Australia Hospital Turns Over Woman’s Records for Late-Term Abortion Probe

National   |   Steven Ertelt   |   May 17, 2006   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Australia Hospital Turns Over Woman’s Records for Late-Term Abortion Probe Email this article
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by Steven Ertelt Editor
May 17, 2006

Canberra, Australia ( — An Australian hospital has decided to turn over the medical records to prosecutors of a woman who had a late-term abortion. Royal Women’s Hospital decided not to appeal a court order requiring it to release to the Medical Practitioners Board the documents of a woman’s 32-week abortion.

The board is investigating the conduct of five doctors who were involved in the abortion procedure and the hospital could have taken its case against turning over the records to the Australia High Court.

Last month, a three judge court of appeals panel ruled against RWH and cited a prior High Court case as precedent.

The woman in question, known as Mrs. X in court records, had an abortion six years ago of a baby doctors thought may have had dwarfism.

Liberal senator Julian McGauran, who is pro-life, complained that the condition was no reason to allow the woman to have a late-term abortion and he asked the medical board to investigate the doctors involved in the abortion.

The board agreed and, in its preliminary investigation, asked the hospital for the medical records and it refused to comply. The woman does not want the hospital to release the records but after the hospital consulted with her and her attorney, it chose to release them and not appeal the appellate court ruling.

RWH chief executive Dale Fisher said the hospital normally released medical records to the board but did not comply in this case because the woman didn’t want the information released.

"We continue to believe the release of the file, triggered by a third party complaint and against the patient’s wishes, represents a breach of the woman’s trust and right to privacy," she told The Age newspaper.

Health Services Commissioner Beth Wilson previously argued against releasing the files saying she worries women will turn to illegal abortion practitioners to hide their abortions.

According to The Age, the medical board released a statement saying it would protect the woman’s privacy as it further investigates the late-term abortion.

"The board will continue to protect the patient’s identity and will now complete the investigation as quickly, sensitively and efficiently as possible," it said. "The board looks forward to working with the hospital to achieve this."