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Informing the Patient

As with contraception, physicians who do not perform abortions must fully inform all obstetrics patients of this restriction at the first patient visit, with this information documented in the patient chart. If a physician suspects that a pregnant patient may have a medical reason for terminating the pregnancy or may be carrying a defective fetus, the physician has a duty to inform the patient of the problem and the options available to her. If the patient decides to have an abortion, the physician is not obliged to perform the abortion but has a duty to refer the woman to a physician who will.

The information given to the patient should be complete and reasonably objective. A physician should never withhold information or downplay the seriousness of a problem in an attempt to guide a patient's decision. The essence of informed consent is that the patient has all the information necessary to make the decisions. A failure to inform the patient properly can create liability for the torts of wrongful life and wrongful birth.

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