Earlier today news broke about a rural New Zealand doctor who has been censured for performing illegal abortions and then committing fraud to cover her tracks.
This case is very troubling for two important reasons:
1. The extremely light penalty handed down to this doctor by the Health Practitioners Disciplinary Tribunal
This doctor gave four women (that we know of) the drug misoprostol to induce abortion, without proper oversight and care, and then she hid her illegal actions by falsifying patient records (by not updating their medical files).
One of her patients later suffered an ectopic pregnancy and had to have a fallopian tube removed after it ruptured.
This doctor’s actions weren’t just illegal, but they were perpetrated with a high degree of premeditated dishonesty.
Not only did his doctor put her patients lives at risk (just think about how dangerous the practice of falsifying official patient records alone could be), but she also caused serious harm to one of those patients as a result of her actions.
Yet despite all this, the penalty handed down to her was a mere six month suspension.
I really struggle to comprehend how such serious offending could result in such a light penalty. It’s hard to believe that this would even have much of an impact for the doctor involved, let alone act as a deterrent to others intent on placing their patients in harms way with similar actions.
Not only is this doctor now able to continue practising medicine, but she also has her name suppressed, which means that the general public are not even able to protect themselves by choosing not to use this doctor if they so desire.
I think that many New Zealanders would opt not to use the services of a medical professional who had previously placed their patients in harms way and engaged in dangerous and illegal medical practices like these. Yet that option is not available to them, because this doctor has been able to maintain secrecy despite her grave misconduct.
The Health Practitioners Disciplinary Tribunal’s handling of this case has left me wondering exactly what sort of conduct is actually considered serious enough to warrant a doctor being publicly named, or permanently barred from practicing medicine in NZ.
I would have thought that deliberately placing patients at risk, causing harm to them, and falsifying official patient records would have been serious enough to end a doctor’s career in this country – the fact that it is not is truly alarming.
2. This is what abortion-on-demand looks like
There are currently groups agitating for the introduction of an extreme abortion law in New Zealand, a law which would result in abortion-on-demand, without the current checks and balances.
Yet what this doctor did was effectively to provide abortion-on-demand to her patients.
Imagine a New Zealand where this kind of dangerous conduct was happening on a regular basis, in many more facilities, all over the country.
It’s not hard to see how this woeful state of affairs would eventually result in the deaths of pregnant New Zealand women.
This is precisely why we need to be extremely wary of any abortion activists who are lobbying to introduce such an extreme abortion law in this country.
Compromising patient safety is simply not an acceptable outcome, yet that is exactly what would happen in an extreme law allowing abortion-on-demand were introduced here.
All of us should care about this case and the associated issues.
This isn’t just a women’s issue – all of us have sisters, mothers, wives, daughters or female friends and associates whose lives are put at great risk by the sort of conduct that this doctor engaged in.
There is just no way that this should ever be considered acceptable practice in New Zealand.