by Steven Ertelt
April 12, 2006
Sydney, Australia (LifeNews.com) — An Australian court has quashed a previous conviction of an abortion practitioner charged with defrauding the nation’s Medicare system by overbilling women having abortions. Suman Sood, who is also on trial for a botched abortion, was charged with almost 100 counts of fraud.
Last year, a court convicted Sood, owner of the Fairfield Women’s Health Clinic abortion business of 96 counts of Medicare fraud.
Government prosecutors said she was bulk billing the government for reimbursement costs for the abortions while illegally charging women additional cash fees for the abortions.
According to the Sunday Times newspaper, Sood would charge anywhere from $120 to $1000 for the abortions depending on how far along the baby was in the pregnancy.
Sood was sentenced to 300 hours of community service and fined more than $20,000, but the NSW Court of Criminal Appeal overturned her conviction and sentence and ordered a new trial. The court’s basis was Sood’s contention that she did not intend to defraud the government.
"She denied that she had any dishonest intention," Chief Justice James Spigelman wrote in the ruling. "She said she believed that she was entitled to charge the additional fees because the relevant item did not include any of the other services she provided."
The Sunday Times reported that Sood’s was not the only abortion business charging additional costs for abortions and the court seemed to concur that the practice was legitimate and not fraudulent.
"It is impossible rationally to exclude such a reasonable possibility," Justice Michael Adams wrote. "The circumstances here are inherently and irreducibly ambiguous."
The court did not set a date for the new trial.
Meanwhile, Sood has pleaded not guilty to charges of manslaughter in the death of the unborn child and using a drug to produce a miscarriage.
Sood is on trial for botching a late-term abortion in which the unborn baby survived and died hours after birth. She gave the woman an abortion drug even though RU 486 was not approved for use in Australia.