Australia Practitioner: I Didn’t Know Abortion Wrong When Done Without Consent

International   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Jan 19, 2009   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Australia Practitioner: I Didn’t Know Abortion Wrong When Done Without Consent

by Steven Ertelt Editor
January 19
, 2009

Queensland, Australia ( — An abortion practitioner in Australia under fire for doing a late-term abortion on a mentally disabled woman without her consent now says he didn’t know there were any legal ramifications from doing so. Mark Schulberg is also accused of failing to contact authorities about the fact the woman was raped.

The case involves a mentally disabled woman who was more than 24 weeks pregnant at the time of the abortion. The abortion was done at Schulberg’s abortion center in Croydon.

Schulberg allegedly failed to contact police to let them know the woman was a rape victim who was legally incapable of consenting to sexual relations. Her legal guardian authorized her abortion.

Schulberg faced a Medical Practitioners Board hearing in August and, should he be found guilty of serious misconduct, could face a suspension of his medical license.

He had another hearing before the panel yesterday and he said he didn’t know there were any legal consequences from doing an abortion in the situation he did or that a guardian could not consent for a mentally disabled woman’s abortion.

Under state law in Victoria, the guardian of a mentally disabled woman can’t give consent for her for an abortion. Instead, the guardian must submit an application to a state agency that evaluates such requests.

He also claimed to have informally surveyed other Australia abortion practitioners and that they also did not know that was the case.

Schulberg also blamed the medical board for not providing him with that information and said he never suspected the father of the pregnant woman had sexually abused her.

Western Australia Today also reported that Schulberg assumed a sexual assault had occurred and he claimed he planned to obtain a DNA sample from the baby following the abortion for police to use.

However, the board indicated police found out from someone else that the woman was raped and indicated Schulberg did not appear to have contacted authorities about the case.

Last year, Dr. Patricia Moore told the medical panel she was surprised that the abortion practitioner would not notify officials that a sexual assault occurred.

"There was obviously evidence of sexual abuse that was not investigated by many people before the final episode," she said.

In the case, a social worker at Northern Hospital contacted the state for an application for the abortion to go ahead. Not willing to wait, the woman’s father convinced Schulberg to go ahead with the abortion.

Schulberg allegedly talked with the woman’s doctor, who indicated the application had been approved. Schulberg’s attorney said he should have known he needed to wait for the state to give him approval, but said that lack of knowledge about the law doesn’t constitute serious misconduct.

The hearing can result in no action, a settlement, counseling for the medical personnel involved, or a surrender of the medical license.

This isn’t the first time Schulberg has come under fire, as he has routinely been accused of doing "cosmetic" abortions on babies who have club feet, webbed fingers, cleft palates or other conditions that are easily corrected.

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