HPCSA to appeal dropping of two charges against anti-abortion doctor

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The disciplinary hearing into anti-abortion doctor Jacques de Vos by the Health Professions Council of SA has been adjourned to 2 April 2020, to allow the HPCSA to appeal a decision by its own committee to drop two of the four charges against de Vos.

According to a Cape Argus report, this latest postponement came after HPCSA prosecutor Zolile Gajana took issue with its disciplinary committee’s setting aside of two of the four charges against de Vos.

Gajana said: “It’s my considered view as well as that of my superiors, that we’ll take that decision under review.” This means the proceedings will have to wait until Gajana takes the case to a judge who will assess the lawfulness of the disciplinary council’s decision. Gajana said by dropping the two charges, the disciplinary committee had reviewed the decision of the preliminary committee of the HPSCA and the matter should not proceed any further until the decision had been appraised by a judge of the High Court. In the meantime, de Vos’ advocate, Keith Matthee, asked the disciplinary council to allow his client to plead. Matthee said the HPCSA had not yet complied with the 30 August ruling of the disciplinary committee which ordered them to provide information needed for De Vos to plead.

Disciplinary committee chair Andre Swart said as a result of the prosecutor failing to provide all the required information to the defence, he wondered whether there was any bad faith on the part of the HPCSA. However, de Vos waived his right to claim that the HPCSA were acting in bad faith, to proceed with the hearing.

De Vos has pleaded not guilty to the charges brought against him, says a Daily Maverick report. In his plea, de Vos’s counsel argued before a hearing of the HPCSA that the doctor was acting in the best interests of both the mother and the baby “by trying to save the life of a healthy unborn child”.

The committee heard how de Vos, who was present at the hearing, was “trying to prevent the mother from authorising Dr Archary or any other doctor to kill her unborn child given the risk of physical and/or psychological effects such acts would have on her”, his attorney, Keith Matthee, argued.

The report says when hearings began two months ago in Cape Town, de Vos’s defence had argued that four charges against him should be dismissed because the delay had prejudiced his client. The committee decided that the first two charges would remain.

A Cape Argus report says the first of the charges that was dropped by HPCSA’s professional conduct committee was charge three.

This saw de Vos accused of distributing pamphlets that imposed his religious beliefs at the hospital on colleagues, patients and members of the public, while also attempting to influence his colleagues to adopt his views by sending them text messages. The committee also dropped the fourth charge, in which the doctor was accused of failing to remain objective when advocating for contraceptives and not having acted in a patient’s best interest.

Cape Argus report (subscription needed)

Daily Maverick report

Cape Argus report (subscription needed)

See also

HPCSA vs anti-abortion doctor: Defence wants charges dropped

HPCSA fails to meet the document deadline in De Vos case

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