by Steven Ertelt
September 15, 2006
Canberra, Australia (LifeNews.com) — The Australia Medical Practitioners Board announced today that it will not subject five doctors to formal disciplinary hearings in a case in which they did an abortion on an unborn baby diagnosed with dwarfism. The board looking into the matter on the request of a member of parliament but won’t take further action.
The investigation ensued after Liberal senator Julian McGauran, who is pro-life, complained that the condition was no reason to allow a woman to have an abortion 32 weeks into the pregnancy.
The five doctors at Royal Women’s hospital did the abortion in 2001 and McGauran said the medical board should investigate to see if the abortion violated the nation’s laws.
Following the board’s decision not to take the case further, one of the doctors told ABC TV’s Stateline program that the investigation took way to long and the doctors are still fearful of prosecution. He said that will result in fewer doctors doing abortions in so-called hard cases.
"Because doctors are no longer prepared to offer abortion in many cases when it’s ethical and legal, patients get pushed from pillar to post to get an abortion that is lawful," he said.
The investigation also featured a battle over releasing medical records.
The Victorian Australia Medical Association was upset that a state court allowed the released of the hospital’s medical records. 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 of the woman’s 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 McGauran told ABC that he thinks the AMA objects because it wants to avoid scrutiny if it is ever the subject of an investigation.
McGauran also told ABC he thinks the AMA’s pro-abortion position is another reason for their opposition.