Running Head: LAW AND LEGAL PROCESS – Legal Aspects of Health Care
This paper will discuss specific issues related to California legal statutes and medical treatment. It will address the legality of a foreign educated doctor advertising abortion services in the state, the length of time a respondent has to answer a lawsuit, and any advance notice the plaintiff must give the respondent. I will close by covering subpoenas and a person’s obligation in responding to a subpoena.
In the 1973 Roe vs. Wade decision, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that a woman has a constitutional right to choose abortion prior to a fetus being viable. However, according to the Business and Professions Code, Section 601, Dr. Sanders is not allowed to advertise for abortion services or any related services. By simply advertising for the services she wished to perform, Dr. Sanders committed a felony.
Dr. Sanders has 30 days from the date the summons is served to enter a written pleading in response to the complaint. If no response has been given within the 30 days, the court will make a decision on the case without your input. A respondent is also advised to contact an attorney as quickly as possible in order to file the pleading within the 30 day window. Code of Civil Procedure, Section 412.10-412.30, specifically states that if the defendant fails to respond within the 30 day period, the plaintiff may demand any relief he feels just and right.
Joan’s attorney must give Dr. Sanders at least 90 days prior notice of the intention to commence the action according to the Code of Civil Procedure, Section 364-365. Although failure to comply with the required time limits set forth by the code will not be grounds for dismissal of the case, any attorney that fails to comply with the provisions may be subject to disciplinary action by the State Bar of California. Assuming that Joan is claiming professional negligence against Dr. Sanders, the lawsuit may not fall into the scope of services for which the provider is licensed. California does not recognize abortion as legal, so there may potentially be an issue with the lawsuit depending on how it is presented before the court.
A subpoena is the process by which the attendance of a witness is required by law according to the Code of Civil Procedure, Section 1985-1997. A subpoena requires the person to appear before the court at an appointed time and date with all required knowledge, books, papers or anything else listed in the document. If you are required to travel in order to fulfill your duties, you may request to be reimbursed for your travel fees. Sufficient time must be given in order to secure all the necessary travel and lodging arrangements, if required.
Your obligations to the subpoena include: obeying the order of the subpoena, swearing in before the issuing court, answering as a witness, and to subscribe an affidavit or deposition when required. Failure to perform any of these actions may be punished as a contempt of court by the issuing court. If you fail to appear for the subpoena, you will be fined a sum of $500 and all damages sustained pursuant to your failure to appear. These damages may be recovered in a civil court.
California law clearly states that a licensed medical doctor may not advertise for abortions. Dr. Sanders should have researched the legality of hanging her shingle out before opening her clinic. Since laws vary from state to state, it does not matter that her classmate’s clinic is successful in another state, California law prevails in this particular case.
Dr. Sanders should have been given the full 90 days to respond to Joan’s attorney. Although this will not cause any problems with the lawsuit, it does show lack of professional consideration on the part of Joan’s attorney. The bottom line is that a patient went to a clinic that should not have been performing the medical procedure it was performing and got injured. It will be up to the courts to decide whether or not the patient has any culpability in the injury or if it was entirely the doctor’s fault.