In a long-delayed victory, a South African doctor is no longer facing unprofessional conduct charges for telling a woman that an abortion kills a human being.
The Sunday Times reports the Health Professions Council of South Africa dropped the charges against Dr. Jacques de Vos, 33, on Tuesday after more than two years of legal proceedings and postponements. During that time, de Vos was not allowed to practice medicine.
The woman who filed a complaint against de Vos in 2017 recently decided that she did not want to pursue the case anymore, according to the report.
De Vos’s attorney, Martus de Wet, celebrated the victory for his client but emphasized the hardships that he has faced because of the unjust prosecution, the news outlet IOL reports.
“The withdrawal of the charges after a year cannot reverse the impact of the procedural unfairness to the career of the young doctor,” de Wet said. “This case also signifies the danger we face when disciplinary procedures are used to silence or intimidate health professionals who are open about their beliefs in the sanctity of life.”
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The charges go back to 2016 at 2 Military Hospital in Wynberg, when de Vos was completing his medical training. Allegedly, he told a patient who was 19-weeks pregnant that life begins at conception, that her “fetus was a human being” and that an abortion kills an unborn human, Sowetan Live reported in 2019.
However, de Vos lost his job and was suspended from practicing medicine because he told the truth. He was only one week away from finishing his medical degree when he was suspended.
Tuesday was a huge victory for the young, pro-life doctor. Priscilla Sekhonyana, a spokesperson for the council, announced that the charges were dropped.
“The HPCSA has received an affidavit from the complainant indicating that she no longer wishes to proceed with the complaint that was filed against Dr. de Vos,” Sekhonyana said. “She further advised that she does not wish to testify against Dr. de Vos nor participate in the hearing.
“Based on this decision by the complainant, the HPCSA has no alternative but to withdraw the charges against Dr. de Vos,” she said.
Now, the pro-life doctor hopes for a full acquittal based on the evidence that he and his lawyers presented to the council.
“While we view the withdrawal as the closing of their case, our client had already made a plea and as such he is entitled to an acquittal,” his lawyer said. “We presented expert evidence to the panel which has never been contradicted, so they must pronounce on it and tell us that a doctor who acts in that way is not in breach of his ethical duty.”
De Vos and his lawyers said they presented “uncontradicted and unchallenged evidence” from three experts who verified that what de Vos told the woman was true. They said de Vos was acting in the woman’s best interests by giving her complete and accurate information about abortion, including the potential risks and the development of her unborn child.
According to IOS:
De Wet said the defence team, which was led at the hearings by advocate Keith Matthee, had also asked the disciplinary committee to request the HPCSA to investigate those responsible with driving a vendetta against De Vos and to charge them with unprofessional conduct.
South Africa has some of the most liberal abortion laws in the world, allowing abortions on demand for basically any reason and taxpayer-funded abortions. Abortions became legal in 1996 under the Choice on Termination of Pregnancy Bill. Celebrated leader Nelson Mandela supported the legislation.
Now, tragically, pro-life doctors are being persecuted simply for telling the truth.
The concerning situation draws attention to the importance of conscience protection laws. Without them, medical workers can lose their jobs and, worse, be prosecuted just for telling the truth. It also provides worrying evidence that abortion activists do not want women to know the truth, and they will use powerful leaders and governing bodies to keep women in ignorance about their unborn babies’ lives and the violence of abortion.