A staffer at an abortion business in Australia has been charged with infecting more than 50 women with the same strain of hepatitis C.
The heath chief of the Australian state of Victoria released the accusations against the abortion practitioner in April of last year concerning the infections at the Croydon Day Surgery abortion business. The health department investigation into the abortion operation where James Latham Peters was the anesthesiologist involved asking as many as 3,600 women who had abortions at his center since 2006 about their experience at the abortion facility.
The Victorian Police and the Medical Practitioners Board of Victoria revealed last year that the patients’ infections are an identical genetic match to his own hepatitis C strain in 22 of the confirmed 44 cases. Another 19 women showed signs of infection but officials could not confirm whether they obtained it from the abortion center.
Now, Peters is charged with 54 counts of endangering lives negligently causing serious injury and recklessly causing serious injury, according to 9 News in Australia. Peters appeared before the Melbourne Magistrates Court as Prosecutor Helen Faturous told the court it would take time to prosecute the case because of the complexities involved.
Deputy Chief Magistrate Jelena Popovic allowed Peters to be released on bail with a $200,000 bond and the surrender of his passport, the news station reported. He is slated to appear in court again on September 30. Peters has been directed by health officials to not work in any medical or health related field and he must not contact staff at medical centers where he previously worked.
Paula Shelton, an attorney who is filing a class action lawsuit on behalf of the victims, told 9 News, that they are pleased he was finally charged in connection with the infections.
“Obviously the information that is gained throughout any criminal proceedings will be evidence very relevant in any class action,” she said, adding that the criminal case would delay the class action suit.
“It’s pretty tough for them looking down the barrel of a serious chronic illness, which can cause liver failure,” she said. “It’s very interesting that having tested patients from other facilities they’re now saying that there are no infections so there is something very, very special about this (Croydon) clinic that has allowed this to happen.”
Victoria’s Chief Health Officer Dr John Carnie told the Herald Sun newspaper the investigation has now concluded but he can’t say whether the infections were intentional.
“It would be very hard to determine some accidental means that would involve this number of patients at just the one clinic,” Dr Carnie said.
“This is an extremely traumatic and distressing episode for these patients,” he added. “Many of them will be extremely angry that they have been put at risk.”
Peters has been prohibited from practicing medicine and he reportedly has a history of drug usage and was convicted of possessing child pornography. In 1996, he was convicted of forging more than 100 prescriptions for pethidine. The Age newspaper reported that the Croydon Day Surgery abortion business knew of the convictions but hired Peters anyway.