Were You Deceived?
The Rights of Women and How You Can Help to Enforce Them
When you had an abortion, you probably weren’t told all that you had a right to know.
According to the U.S. Supreme Court, you had a right to be fully informed about all the physical, psychological, and emotional reactions which are associated with abortion. You also had a right to know if you were at higher risk of experiencing any of these problems.
You had a right to know everything which a patient might consider relevant to her decision to undergo an abortion. It was also the doctor’s duty to be sure you understood the information. Furthermore, you had a right to know if the abortion was likely to solve your problems or more likely to aggravate existing problems, or to create new ones.
When you went to the abortion clinic, it was their duty to provide you with full disclosure of all the information you needed to make a fully informed choice about abortion. Even if you felt certain that abortion was your best choice, it was their duty to ensure that your choice was not one being made out of confusion, ignorance or fear.
If your doctor failed to fulfill this duty, he violated your rights. In addition, it is likely that he is continuing to violate the rights of hundreds, perhaps thousands, of women like you every year. The well-being of thousands of women depends on holding abortionists fully accountable for respecting the right of patients to full disclosure.
What You Can Do
We can’t turn back the clock to undo this violation of your rights. But with your help, we can put pressure on abortionists to better protect the health of women. Remember, full disclosure is not an option; it is a right.
If you did not receive full disclosure of the relevant information, your consent was actually invalid. In such cases, an individual can bring suit against the doctor and clinic, but it is often difficult to find an attorney to take such a case unless you suffered a major, permanent physical injury. In the near future, we hope to make it easier for women with less severe injuries to be heard in court too.
Toward this end, we are seeking to identify women who would be willing to file complaints alleging deceptive trade practices with the state’s Attorney General. This can be done confidentially.
If you are asked to file a complaint, you will be asked to be as specific as possible with regard to any allegations of “deception, fraud, false pretense, false promise, misrepresentation or the concealment, suppression, or omission of any material fact.” The law which forbids deceptive trade practices also prohibits any conduct that “creates a likelihood of confusion or of misunderstanding.” This is the standard of the law which will be used to evaluate your complaint.
For example, an allegation of false pretense might arise if the clinic advertised or told you that it provided counseling services, when in fact their “counselors” were not actually licensed in any counseling profession. If the “counselor” was simply there to either sell you an abortion, or to act as a “support person” in this time of stress, you were not given the counseling you were promised.
If you were told that you would feel mostly relief after the abortion, and that very few women have trouble adjusting, this may constitute a false promise.
If you asked questions but were given brief, dismissive, or incomplete answers, this could be concealment or suppression of material fact. You have a right to full disclosure, not just what they wanted you to know. On the other hand, if you did not ask questions but later found out that there was something you were not told, this would fall under the category of “omission of material fact.”
What We Hope to Achieve
Our goal is to gather complaints from women regarding the unfair and deceptive practices of abortion clinics in order to urge the Attorney General to intervene on behalf of women under the consumer protection laws of the state.
At this preliminary stage, it is not necessary for you to file your complaint with the consumer fraud division of the Attorney General’s office. As a single complaint, it is likely to be ignored unless it is sent as one of a large number of complaints.
What you can do now is to help us in our initial effort to gather together a large number of complaints. When a sufficiently large number of instances of illegal or deceptive business practices have been documented, these materials will be formally presented to the Attorney General.
If you are interested in participating in this effort, please fill out the form on the other side of this brochure. It would also be helpful if you could include a few neatly written paragraphs describing how you were misled or otherwise injured. If you provide us with your name and address, we will contact you with information about filing an official complaint with the attorney general’s office as soon as we have collected a hundred or more complaints. (Your official complaint can be filed with a request for anonymity, if that is what you desire.)
Please send the completed survey, and any additional materials describing how you were misled or injured, to the address listed on the other side of this brochure.
A Survey of Disclosure Practices in Abortion Clinics
(Omitted from web site)
Originally published in The Post-Abortion Review 7(3) July-Sept. 1999. Copyright 1999 Elliot Institute.