The Civil Side of Abortion

The recent conviction of a Philadelphia abortion doctor for first-degree murder — and the horrific details of what went on behind the walls of his clinic — made headlines across the country and re-ignited the already-heated debate over abortion law. But there is also a less sensational side to the question of whether an abortion doctor properly carries out the requirements of his or her practice: the question of whether the doctor can be held liable in a civil suit for medical malpractice. Those rules vary widely from state to state and seem subject to constant change.

Despite all the media coverage of the issue, it is likely that a woman who seeks an abortion in her home state has no idea what to expect. Also, amid an experience as emotionally charged as this one, she may not think to question whether she has received the proper care until it is all over. This can form the basis for a medical malpractice suit, and it may be helpful for her to know the law in advance.

Title 20, Subtitle 2 of the Maryland Code outlines the rules for abortion procedures in this state. Title 20, Subtitle 2 states that:

  • Physicians are not liable for civil damages if they perform the procedure in good faith and according to their best medical judgment and the accepted practices of the profession.
  • Refusal by a medical practitioner to perform, participate in or provide a referral for an abortion cannot be grounds for a civil suit, unless the refusal is found to have caused the death or serious injury of a patient.
  • With certain exceptions, such as the likelihood of physical abuse, a physician may not perform an abortion on a minor without giving notice to a parent or guardian.
  • Abortions are subject to all the normal requirements for obtaining the informed consent of the patient before performing the procedure.

Women in Maryland who go through an abortion procedure need to be aware of the law should any complications occur. They should also know that they can speak to a lawyer about their rights if something does go wrong. In such an unfortunate case, contact the skilled Maryland medical malpractice lawyers at LeViness, Tolzman & Hamilton, P.A. to discuss your legal options.