Australian Abortion Practitioner Says She Didn’t Perform Illegal Abortion

National   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Aug 12, 2005   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Australian Abortion Practitioner Says She Didn’t Perform Illegal Abortion Email this article
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by Steven Ertelt Editor
August 12, 2005

Sydney, Australia ( — An abortion practitioner in an Australian medical malpractice case says she didn’t perform the disputed abortion. Suman Sood, the owner of the Fairfield abortion center Australian Women’s Health, says she referred the woman to another abortion facility and told her the abortion could not be performed legally in New South Wales.

Sood is on trial for manslaughter and performing an illegal abortion in a case where she allegedly gave a woman abortion drugs for a pregnancy estimated at 22 weeks. That’s long after the abortion drug is supposed to be used and after the legal limit for performing abortions in the Southeast province.

Sood’s claim appears in an affidavit she filed weeks after the disputed 2002 abortion took place.

She claims to have told the unnamed woman to go to an abortion business in Brisbane, where abortions could be performed that far along into the pregnancy. At 22 weeks, unborn children begin to have a much higher chance of living outside the womb should they be born prematurely.

In the affidavit, Sood said she happened to be at her abortion business during off closing hours and the 20 year-old woman stopped by, so she agreed to examine her.

"I concluded that the patient was not in labor but could be having Braxton Hicks [false] contractions," Sood wrote.

"At no time did I agree to perform a TOP [termination of pregnancy] for this patient or did I give her any medication which would have that effect," Sood attests. "I did not administer anything in the patient’s vagina. I did not ask for or receive any money."

However the woman told the court that Sood gave her one abortion pill to take orally and another to insert vaginally to prepare for the surgical abortion. She said Sood asked for $500 for the abortion and she gave her a partial payment without receiving a receipt.

The woman says she made a followup appointment with Sood for the abortion but, before she could keep it, she gave birth to the baby in the bathroom of her home and had to be rushed to the hospital for care. The baby survived for three hours before dying.

The woman said Sood called her to find out whether she would be keeping her appointment.

When she told Sood she had the baby at home, Sood reminder her that she owed her $100 for the final payment. The woman said Sood told her the total cost of the late-term abortion would have been $1500.

Minna Zoretic, a staff member at the abortion facility told the court she spoke with the woman there and asked why she wanted to have the abortion.

Joan Chodat, another staff member at the abortion center, says she knows Sood gave the woman some sort of drug to take and saw Sood leave the facility.

During a previous hearing, Dr. Robert Gerard Buist, an obstetrician at The Royal Women’s Hospital in Sydney, told the court that the woman was put at risk because Sood gave her improper medical care. He said the woman should have been referred to someone else after taking the drugs.

Crown Prosecutor Paul Leask told the court the woman should have been referred to a counselor to make sure she was ready to undergo the abortion. The woman says Sood never explained the abortion procedure to her.

"We need to be sure that a woman is comfortable with her decision (to abort)," he said, according to an article in The Advertiser newspaper. He also said Sood should have done more to check on the woman’s post-abortion situation to prevent or monitor complications.

"There is the danger of an unattended birth, especially bleeding of the undelivered fetus and placenta," he said. "There is the risk of hemorrhage and infection if the circumstances are not sterile."

Under cross-examination, Sood’s attorney, Phillip Boulten, asked why the woman didn’t take advantage of abortion alternatives. She indicated she talked with her parents about caring for the baby, but they were planning to move overseas to retire.

"I thought about (having the baby) and knew I wouldn’t be able to raise a child," she said. "I was sad about that and then angry. I knew what I had to do."

A final hearing in the case is expected in November.