G.R. No. L-16439, 20 July 1961
Nita Villanueva, the wife of Oscar Lazo, respondent, came to know Antonio Geluz, the petitioner and physician, through her aunt Paula Yambot. Nita became pregnant some time in 1950 before she and Oscar were legally married. As advised by her aunt and to conceal it from her parents, she decided to have it aborted by Geluz. She had her pregnancy aborted again on October 1953 since she found it inconvenient as she was employed at COMELEC. After two years, on February 21, 1955, she again became pregnant and was accompanied by her sister Purificacion and the latter’s daughter Lucida at Geluz’ clinic at Carriedo and P. Gomez Street. Oscar at this time was in the province of Cagayan campaigning for his election to the provincial board. He doesn’t have any idea nor given his consent on the abortion.
Whether the husband of a woman, who voluntarily procured her abortion, could recover damages from the physician who caused the same.
The Supreme Court believed that the minimum award fixed at P3,000 for the death of a person does not cover cases of an unborn fetus that is not endowed with personality which trial court and Court of Appeals predicated.
Since an action for pecuniary damages on account of personal injury or death pertains primarily to the one injured, it is easy to see that if no action for such damages could be instituted on behalf of the unborn child on account of the injuries it received, no such right of action could deliberately accrue to its parents or heirs. In fact, even if a cause of action did accrue on behalf of the unborn child, the same was extinguished by its pre-natal death, since no transmission to anyone can take place from one that lacked of juridical personality under Article 40 of the Civil Code, which expressly limits such provisional personality by imposing the condition that the child should be subsequently alive.
Both trial court and CA wasn’t able to find any basis for an award of moral damages evidently because Oscar’s indifference to the previous abortions of Nita clearly indicates he was unconcerned with the frustration of his parental affections. Instead of filing an administrative or criminal case against Geluz, he turned his wife’s indiscretion to personal profit and filed a civil action for damages of which not only he but, including his wife would be the beneficiaries. It shows that he’s after obtaining a large money payment since he sued Geluz for P50,000 damages and P3,000 attorney’s fees that serves as indemnity claim, which under the circumstances was clearly exaggerated.
* Case digest by Lady Rubyge A. Denura, LLB-1, Andres Bonifacio Law School, SY 2017-2018