Australian Doctor Investigated for Refusing to Do Sex-Selective Abortion

International   |   Anne Roback Morse   |   Oct 7, 2013   |   5:26PM   |   Washington, DC

9News National in Melbourne, Australia, reported this morning that Dr. Mark Hobart has been under investigation for months after refusing parents’ request to abort their daughter.  The couple reportedly sought an abortion because they had discovered that they were pregnant with a girl. Despite the investigation, Dr. Hobart defended his decision. “The pregnancy was well advanced, and I refused to refer the patient because there was no medical reason to do it.” [Emphasis added.]

This case demonstrates the clash of politics against good medicine.  In his interview with 9News, Dr. Hobart is quoted as saying, “I think it demonstrates the problem with abortion law that stops doctors from using their conscience whether it is appropriate or not… It’s very wrong.” [Emphasis added.]

Moreover, this case stands in stark contrast to medical practice in the United States, where a recent trend has developed among states to prohibit by law race-selective abortion and sex-selective abortion.  This legislation both protects children who would otherwise be killed before birth simply for being the ‘wrong’ gender in the eyes of their parents, and further bolsters conscience-rights protections for medical professionals in the United States who refuse to perform, participate in, or refer for abortions.

19 wk baby

Although Dr. Hobart clearly rejects the notion of sex-selective abortions in general, he further expressed objection to abortion at such a late developmental stage as well, saying, “I don’t know any doctor in Victoria that would be willing to refer a woman that wanted to have an abortion just because of gender at 19 weeks.”

To provide some context, the image at left (taken from the Rush University Medical Center Website) portrays a 19-week old preborn child in the womb.  The child depicted here would be the same age as the girl fetus Dr. Hobart was asked to abort.  The Rush University website further describes the 19-week fetus as:

“YOUR BABY: COVERED FROM HEAD TO TOE.  This week, your baby-to-be weighs in at an impressive 7.5 – 8 ounces (225 g) and measures 6 inches (15 cm) in length. Lanugo — fine, downy hair — covers his skin and a white, waxy substance (vernix caseosa) protects it during its nine-month amniotic bath. Permanent teeth buds are taking shape behind the already formed milk teeth buds.”

(Photo credit: Rush Health, original image and article can be viewed online here. Original article reviewed for medical accuracy by Dr. Irina Burd, MD, PhD, Maternal Fetal Medicine, Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, MD).

The Herald Sun also reports:  “The irony is that Victoria’s abortion laws, among the most extreme in the world, were driven by a bipartisan feminist agenda. Yet now those laws are being used to punish a doctor who refused to participate in the sort of selective abortion of female fetuses which has made girl babies an endangered species in India and other patriarchal societies.” [Emphasis added].

At this time, it is unclear whether the Medical Board of Australia and the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency will strip Dr. Hobart of his medical license, but support for Dr. Hobart among the medical community appears high. As Dr. Hobart indicates: “The general response from my colleagues is disbelief and revulsion.

Such is the expected reaction of any civilized people to the intentional killing of girls simply because they are girls.  This should be doubly true of those who have dedicated their lives to the treatment and healing of others.  A doctor’s role is to apply the very best health care possible equally to every single patient – regardless of race, sex, or age.  That cannot be accomplished when the law interferes with the role of the doctor thereby undermining the doctor’s responsibility to both their patients.  Thankfully, physicians in the United States are currently shielded from such absurd charges – and hopefully the barbaric practice of sex-selective abortion will soon be outlawed here altogether.