The Supreme Court decision that upheld a woman’s right of privacy in deciding
on abortion limited this right to the period when the fetus is not viable. As a
purely medical matter, the safety and ease of induced abortion decrease as
the pregnancy progresses. This puts a time restraint on the provision of
abortion services. A patient must be provided necessary information and care
in a time frame that maintains her options and safety.
When medical care practitioners first see patients in the second trimester, they
must make special efforts to get test results or referral appointments quickly.
The medical care practitioner who knows that time is short should personally
ensure that the patient has access to timely care. A medical care practitioner
whose delay prevents the patient from aborting a damaged fetus can be liable
for the consequences.