Hearings to continue despite two charges being dropped against anti-abortion doctor
Cape Town – The Health Professions Council of SA (HPCSA) has set aside two of the four charges against anti-abortion doctor Jacques de Vos.
The first of the charges that was dropped by HPCSA’s professional conduct committee, chaired by Andrew Swart, was Charge 3.
This saw De Vos accused of distributing pamphlets that imposed his religious beliefs at the hospital on colleagues, patients and members of the public, while also attempting to influence his colleagues to adopt his views by sending them text messages.
The committee also dropped the fourth charge, in which the doctor was accused of failing to remain objective when advocating for contraceptives and not having acted in a patient’s best interest. De Vos’s legal team, led by senior counsel Keith Matthee, had argued that the charges were unlawful and vague.
When the public hearings of the matter resume in Cape Town on Monday, De Vos will be taken to task on the first charge, which is that of dissuading a patient from terminating her pregnancy in 2016 when he was at 2 Military Hospital in Wynberg, and the second charge, which accuses him of failing to respect the patient’s autonomy. At the last public hearing in October, Matthee said that the defence would decide on the way forward after December 9, and that their options included possibly applying to the high court for review.
De Vos was suspended by the HPCSA back in April 2017 because of an alleged statement by a woman who De Vos engaged about her decision to terminate her 19-week pregnancy.
Meanwhile, a senior lecturer in anatomy and embryology who is set to testify at the disciplinary hearing is expected to argue that life begins at fertilisation, “when genetic code is set and future physical characteristics are defined with precision”.
Christopher Warton, who has taught medical students at UCT since the early 1980s, will tell HPCSA that it is “entirely rational and reasonable for a medical practitioner to view a 19-week-old foetus as human life”.
In South Africa, a woman’s reproductive rights are constitutionally guaranteed.