Silent No More: Physician’s Legal and Ethical Obligations to Patients Seeking Abortions

Introduction

More than half of the pregnancies among American women are unintended, and half of these are terminated by abortions; in 1988, 1.6 million abortions were performed in the United States. Often, a woman is in-formed by a physician or other health care provider that she is pregnant. This Article explores the ethical and medical principles that should guide physicians and other health care providers in conversations that follow the confirmation of pregnancy. It argues that physicians should not automatically assume that a pregnant woman wants to continue or end the pregnancy. Rather, the doctor should ask the woman what her reaction is to the news that she is pregnant, and provide medical information informing the patient of her choices. The physician should then refer her to those appropriate medical services that he or she does not personally provide.

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