Abortion Supervisory Committee,
Dear Ms Williams
Doctor Found Guilty of Professional Misconduct
A doctor called Dr N, was recently found guilty of professional misconduct by the Health Practitioners Disciplinary Tribunal for breaches of the Contraception Sterilisation and Abortion Act 1977. She was also found guilty of prescribing the drug Misoprostol unlawfully to four women for the purpose of terminating the lives of their unborn children. Doctor N has been granted permanent name suppression by the High Court. The case is reported on the web site of the Tribunal under recent decisions and is numbered Medical 12/224P.
The Tribunal suspended Dr N from practicing for six months last year and imposed a number of other requirements concerning the conduct of her practice. The Tribunal found that the doctor had acted unlawfully in breach of the Contraception Sterilisation Act 1977. The Act requires that abortions must be authorised by two certifying consultants appointed by the Abortion Supervisory Committee and that pregnancy counseling be available and offered. The law also requires that abortions take place only in a facility licensed to perform abortions. These requirements are there to protect the health and welfare of women and to protect the right to life of unborn children.
It is a serious crime to kill an unborn child. The Crimes Act 1961, section 183 states that anyone who unlawfully administers any poison or drug to any women for the purpose of procuring a miscarriage is liable on conviction to imprisonment for a term not exceeding 14 years.
Why then are criminal charges not being heard in Court?
Four children in the womb have had their lives unlawfully and violently terminated by Dr N. This is a violation of the children’s inalienable human rights, the foundation right being a right to life. The lives and welfare of her four patients were placed in danger by the actions of Dr N. Right to Life has a degree of sympathy for Dr N who claimed that she was suffering from stress from a very busy practice. Dr N may well have been sincere in endeavouring to do her best for four of her patients who were faced with a crisis pregnancy.
The Tribunal has completed its proceedings in this serious and tragic case. Right to Life has been following this case since May 2013, when it was reported in the Christchurch Press. Our Society contacted the Tribunal on 8April and was advised that it was not the duty of the Tribunal to refer this matter to the Police. This tragic case raises a number of important questions. I would be grateful if you were able to provide the requested information.
- Was your Committee aware of this Tribunal hearing concerning Doctor N?
- If so when was your Committee aware of the hearing?
- If your Committee was aware of the hearing, what action did your Committee subsequently take?
- In the opinion of your Committee who was responsible for ensuring that the breaches of the Crimes Act by Doctor N were referred to the Police?
- Does the Committee have a duty in terms of section 14 of the Contraception Sterilisation and Abortion Act 1977, to seek to have the breach of section 183, of the Crimes Act 1961, by Doctor N, investigated by the Police with the object of having charges being laid against Doctor N?
- In view of the permanent name suppression ordered by the High Court it would appear that Dr N will now not be required to be held accountable for the serious breaches of the Crimes Act. Will your Committee be considering making a submission to the Minister of Justice to seek a change to the Health Practitioners Competence Act 2004 to ensure that in future, that where there is a breach of the Crimes Act, that these matters are referred to the Police?
Thank you for your assistance with this enquiry.