Johannesburg – An anti-abortion doctor who did not want to assist a patient terminate her pregnancy wants to be acquitted of all charges.
Last week, the Health Professions Council of SA (HPCSA) withdrew charges against Dr Jacques de Vos.
The doctor, who has not been able to practise for three years, now wants to go after his senior colleagues, who he claims laid the complaint against him, and the HPCSA.
The termination of pregnancy is legal in South Africa until the woman is 20 weeks pregnant. For women who are over 20 weeks pregnant, they can only get the procedure done if it is a threat to the mother’s life or the child has serious congenital disorders.
Health-care workers who refuse to assist women terminate pregnancies can do so under the Section 15(1) of the Constitution, which guarantees the right to freedom of conscience, religion, thought, belief and opinion.
De Vos’s lawyer, Martus de Wet, said his client had already pleaded not guilty so the HPCSA had to come with a verdict.
“We want them to come with a verdict because the way it is now, they can reinstate the charges at any time in the future. We don’t want that to happen.”
At the time of the incident, De Vos was an intern doctor at the 2 Military Hospital. De Wet said while the HPCSA claimed the 19-week pregnant woman backed out of the investigation, it was untrue as she never laid a complaint. The woman was able to get an abortion from another doctor, he claimed.
“They are painting an incorrect picture. There was never a complainant. In fact she never submitted a complaint,” he said.
De Wet said once the HPCSA comes up with a verdict, they will also ask for a probe into the doctors who complained about De Vos.
The HPCSA was not available for comment.