Lawyers for anti-abortion doctor slam ‘vague’ charges
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Cape Town - The lawyers for anti-abortionist Dr Jacques de Vos have labelled the charges by the Health Professions Council of SA (HPCSA) as “vague” and the delay of almost three years in charging him “excessive”.
This emerged when the HPCSA’s disciplinary inquiry against De Vos resumed on Monday.
De Vos, 32, represented pro bono by law firm De Wet Wepener Attorneys and senior counsel Keith Matthee, landed in hot water for allegedly dissuading a pregnant woman from terminating her pregnancy and likening it to the “killing of a human being”.
De Vos was charged with, among others, accentuating his personal or religious beliefs over the patient’s rights and for failing/neglecting to remain objective when advocating the use of contraceptives.
He could potentially be sanctioned with a warning, a fine, suspension, or have his registration with the HPCSA terminated.
Matthee argued that the charges were vague and the delay of almost three years was excessive.
“The result of this conduct by certain doctors at 2 Military Hospital and the HPCSA, is that without a hearing, De Vos has been suspended from practising as a doctor for in excess of two years. He has also not been able to do his community service. He has thus been severely punished, and continues to be punished, without any hearing or explanation,” he said.
Matthee said the HPCSA failed to comply with the ruling of the disciplinary committee in August to provide all prescribed information.
He said the disciplinary was being used against De Vos to stop him from practising as a doctor as 2 Military Hospital’s paediatrics obstetrics and gynaecology departments refused to sign off on the disciplinary process, citing ethical reasons. HPCSA proforma complainant Zolile Gajana submitted to the committee that all relevant documentation was provided to the attorneys and that the process was set in motion in May last year.
“Just over a year had elapsed since July 2018 when the charges were re-enrolled and until August 2019 when the hearing commenced, we will submit. In fact, the HPCSA considers the matter a priority and has dedicated time and effort to ensure that it proceeds timeously and fairly,” he said.
Gajana said the HPCSA did not suspend De Vos; it was self-imposed as he was still required to complete a mandatory period with the obstetrics and gynaecology department to move on to his community service.
Gajana said the disciplinary committee had to focus on the merit of the charges as the onus was on De Vos to prove his conduct was not unbecoming of a doctor because he could turn to another forum if he felt he had been treated unfairly.
Arguments are set to continue today.