An Ohio abortion doctor has been sued after he told a woman that she could not reverse her decision to abort her child once the procedure had begun.
According to the lawsuit, on March 2010, the woman referred to as SS, who is from West Virginia, traveled to Ohio to receive an abortion. She went to Dr. Martin Ruddock at the Center for Women’s Health, Inc., in Cleveland. SS was in her second trimester of pregnancy.
Abortionist Ruddock first saw SS on March 16, 2010 when she signed six informed-consent forms at his office. The woman claims she signed the forms prior to ever seeing Ruddock and that required counseling was not provided 24 hours in advance of the abortion procedure.
SS was informed that because of her stage of pregnancy, Ruddock would have to first place dilators, known as laminaria, into her cervix during the first two days, and that the abortion would not be
completed until the third day, which would have been March 18, 2010.
On March 16, 2010, Ruddock examined SS and placed three laminaria into her cervix. During the procedure, SS experienced pain and uncertainty and indicated that she wanted to stop.
Ruddock informed her that it was not possible. According to SS, Ruddock informed her that her water had already broken; that he could not stop; that she could not revoke consent once the procedure had begun; and that if the procedure were stopped, the child would suffer from mental retardation. The procedure continued, and the laminaria were inserted. An abortion procedure report was used to document the procedure.
The next day, SS went to another doctor who removed the laminaria and informed her that her water had not been broken. On March 18, 2010, SS returned to Ruddock’s office and was given a refund after signing a “laminaria removal release.”
SS’s pregnancy resulted in the birth of a healthy baby.
SS sued Ruddock and the trial court granted Ruddock’s motion and dismissed the complaint and all claims raised therein with prejudice. This was based on the language of the laminaria release that the patient signed. So SS took her case to the Ohio Supreme Court which noted that the language in the release did not exempt Ruddock from liability concerning violations of Ohio’s informed consent law, medical record release laws, fraud and misrepresentation claims regarding the pregnancy itself, or spoliation of evidence claims. In May of 2014 the Ohio Supreme Court found there were reasonable grounds for the appeal and reversed the lower court’s decision.
Read decision here.