Why does one abortion doctor face charges and five do not? Because these stories are about the professional behaviour of six doctors and not about abortion.
Dr Leslie Cannold says the criminal law isn’t the best way of dealing with rogue medical practitioners like Dr Sood.
“[…] she clearly was not a good practitioner and something needed to be done to stop her from hurting patients. But on the other hand, the case really seems to point out that the procedures that are available, like the Medical Board, which has been aware of her activities and aware of the problems with her for over a decade, as I’ve understood it, is really not properly empowered to do something about it. So on the one hand you think, well at least something’s been done, but yet on the other hand, this was such a problematic way to do it. With any other procedure of course you wouldn’t have been able to use the criminal law to try and stop a rogue practitioner, and in this instance what’s happened is, we’ve had a confirmation of a very antiquated law which essentially states that abortion is a crime, and it only can be lawfully provided if the doctor agrees that the woman has basically good reasons that satisfy the criteria and the law. And that’s very unfortunate in this day and age, when all other medical procedures are legitimate and lawful, if the patient gives informed consent.”
“It’s reinforcing what is a very unfortunate law around abortion in New South Wales, there’s a similar law in Queensland, and a similar law in Victoria, our most popular states. So most of the women in this country are governed by law, and many of them are unaware of it, that still say abortion is a crime, the criminal is the doctor, the criminal is the woman, and the only way in which you can escape criminal prosecution is if the doctor forms a reasonable belief that the abortion was necessary for the physical and mental health of the woman. And again, I just think in this day and age, that’s just a really inappropriate way to be monitoring any health practice, including abortion. Whereas if it was taken out of the Crimes Act, it could be regulated by the Health Act.” -Leslie Cannold
The confirmation of a foetus having dwarfism, the news of which lead to the woman becoming acutely suicidal, needed to be medically managed by five specialists. The woman with support from her specialist team chose to abort the foetus. This story became public because of Senator Julian McGauran’s desire to shock the public into a pro-life stance.
These disparate stories are about assessing a Doctor’s professionalism. They are not about abortion. It was Julian McGauran who made it about abortion. He did this because his belief system transcends his reach and this was the only way that he could get his agenda noticed. Well, we’ve noticed and we still say it’s a woman’s right to chose. Moreover, we are incensed that a woman’s privacy and her right to reproductive choice was not respected. That right includes the best possible care if the choice is to terminate a pregnancy.
Dr. Sood was charged with unprofessional conduct. Five doctors were not. They were found to have exhibited professional conduct. Some pro-life politicians will do anything to progress their agenda, and that includes attacking a psychologically vulnerable woman.
These antiquated laws need to come off the books and politicians need to stop looking to the prosecutors to rescue them by simply not prosecuting, but rather to say,
“We no longer think in 2006, abortion, those who provide it and those who obtain it, are criminals, and that’s why we no longer have abortion in the Crimes Act.” – Leslie Cannold.
Image from here