Australia Doctors Group Doesn’t Want Abortion Records Released Again

National   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Jun 26, 2006   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Australia Doctors Group Doesn’t Want Abortion Records Released Again Email this article
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by Steven Ertelt Editor
June 26, 2006

Victoria, Australia ( — An Australian doctors group is upset that a state court allowed the released of a hospital’s medical records related to an illegal late-term abortion investigation. The Victorian Australia Medical Association wants the state’s law to be changed to prevent it from happening again.

Last July, the Victorian Supreme Court ordered that Melbourne’s Royal Women’s Hospital turn over the medical records to prosecutors of a woman who had a late-term abortion. Last month, RWH decided not to appeal the decision related to the documents of the 32-week abortion.

The board is investigating the conduct of five doctors who were involved in the abortion procedure. 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.

The investigation ensued after 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. Senator McGauran had earlier obtained copies of the records from the state coroner.

However, the AMA group wants to make it so the Medical Practitioners Board can refuse to investigate a complaint made by someone who is not involved in the matter.

"None of the people around that case, either that be the nursing staff or social workers or psychologists or the hospital ethics committee, the patient, the patient’s family or any doctors, had a concern about that case and did not feel it was appropriate to notify," Mark Yates, president of the Victorian AMA, told Australia’s ABC News.

"When it was notified, the patient did not want the records released," he added.

Senator Julian McGauran told ABC that he thinks the AMA objects because it wants to avoid scrutiny if it is ever the subject of an investigation. He said the board already has discretion to pursue a probe or not.

McGauran also told ABC he thinks the AMA’s pro-abortion position is another reason for their opposition.

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.