Former military hospital doctor Jacques de Vos is facing a disciplinary inquiry for advising that abortion is the killing of a human being. Picture: Phando Jikelo/African News Agency (ANA)
Former military hospital doctor Jacques de Vos is facing a disciplinary inquiry for advising that abortion is the killing of a human being. Picture: Phando Jikelo/African News Agency (ANA)

ACDP throws weight behind SA doctor charged for advising against abortion

By Mwangi Githahu Time of article published Aug 29, 2019

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Cape Town - The case of Jacques de Vos, a former Military Hospital doctor charged before the Health Professions Council of South Africa (HPCSA) for advising that the termination of a pregnancy is the killing of an unborn human being, has brought the issue of abortion in South Africa into sharp focus, with both pro-life and pro-choice supporters setting out their arguments.

On Tuesday, the matter was heard at a disciplinary inquiry and was then postponed to October 3 to allow the prosecutor of the case time to furnish the doctor’s legal team with all the necessary information they need to prepare their defence.

De Vos is represented in court by Keith Matthee SC who is appearing pro-bono, together with Martus de Wet and Khotso Modise of De Wet Wepener Inc.

De Vos, who is a member of a pro-life organisation called Doctors For Life International (DFL) has been barred from practising as a physician for over two years, since the complaint was lodged with the HPCSA.

At the time of his suspension, De Vos, 32, was a medical intern at 2 Military Hospital in Wynberg.

A statement from DFL said: “This case is likely to attract great interest in the medical community as health care practitioners such as Dr De Vos are often victimised and discriminated against for upholding the sanctity of life for unborn children and for advising women of the adverse effects of abortion on the mother of the unborn child.”

In South Africa, a woman’s reproductive rights, including the right to an abortion, under specific circumstances, are constitutionally guaranteed and the state is required to advance those rights.

However, African Christian Democratic Party (ACDP) MP Marie Suikers, who is one of De Vos’s most vocal supporters, said yesterday: “We believe in the sanctity of human life, and we look forward to a time when the life of an unborn child will be given the reasonable protection that it deserves.

“We stand for the unborn and support Dr de Vos’s position that a foetus is a human being,” said Suiker.

At a recent Sexual and Reproductive Health workshop by Health-e News and Global Health Strategies, it emerged that stigma and judgement from colleagues make working conditions difficult for termination of pregnancy (TOP) service providers in the public health sector; that many opt to leave the service rather than continue to work in hostile environments.

According to a press statement put out by Section27 and Sonke Gender Justice earlier in the year, “To withhold information relating to the availability of abortion constitutes a violation of the right to bodily integrity; reproductive health care; the right to be informed of a range of diagnostic procedures available; and the right to give informed consent before receiving medical care.”

@MwangiGithahu

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Cape Argus

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