MILITARY HOSPITAL ACKNOWLEDGES WRONG DONE TO PRO-LIFE DOCTOR

The commanding officer of 2 Military Hospital has written to the attorneys of Dr JH De Vos, acknowledging that wrong has been done by preventing Dr De Vos from being signed off as a medical intern.

Dr De Vos was a medical intern at 2 Military Hospital when he was suspended without a hearing from the Gynaecology rotation for his views that the unborn child is a human being. The Intern Curator, Dr Ismail, together with the head of gynaecology, Dr Van Wyk were responsible for taking this action at the beginning of 2017. Dr De Vos’ internship was completed in June 2017 after which he was due to start his community service. However, the Dr Van Wyk (gynaecology) and Dr Walele (paediatrics) then refused to sign Dr De Vos off, effectively barring him starting his community service.

Dr De Vos was then charged with unprofessional conduct, and after more than two years of delays, the professional conduct committee on 3 December 2019 struck down two of the charges against Dr De Vos and confirmed that the disciplinary hearing does not stop the hospital from signing Dr De Vos off.

In the meantime the new officer commanding of 2 Military Hospital has written to Dr De Vos’ attorneys, acknowledging the wrongful actions of his predecessors and committed to assisting Dr De Vos to be signed off. Subsequently, the paediatrics department confirmed that Dr De Vos is signed off.

*Despite all these developments, Dr Van Wyk persistently refuses to sign Dr De Vos off. Lawyers for Dr De Vos are now considering his options to take Dr Van Wyk and or Dr Ismail to Court to compel them to sign him off, and for compensation for the damages that he has suffered, in their personal capacities.*

Dr De Vos, who is a member of Doctors For Life International (DFL) is supported by DFL and legal team (De Wet Wepener Attorneys and Adv Keith Matthee SC) on a pro bono basis. For more information contact Doctors For Life at [email protected]  or 057 004 0004.

DOCTOR WHO ADVISED UNBORN BABY IS A HUMAN BEING PLEADS “NOT GUILTY” TO CHARGES

Media Release

The hearing of Dr De Vos resumed today in respect of counts 1 and 2 (that he tried to persuade a mother not to kill her healthy 19-week-old baby). As the hearing started the lawyers for Dr De Vos indicated that the HPCSA still had not complied with the ruling of the Disciplinary Committee on 30 August 2019, i.e. they had not provided the information needed for Dr De Vos to plead.

The Committee Chairperson indicated that, as a result of the prosecutor failing to provide the information, the Committee wanted to relook at whether there is any bad faith on the part of the HPCSA.

Dr De Vos then waived his right to claim that the HPCSA were acting in bad faith in order to proceed with the hearing. His reason for waiving this right among other things was that after 2 ½ years of bad faith by those driving the matter against him, the time had come for the truth of the matter to be heard.  The hearing then proceeded and De Vos pleaded “not guilty” to counts 1 and 2. Below is a copy of Dr De Vos’ plea wherein he briefly set out the truth of the matter.

The hearing has been set down for 2, 3, 22 and 23 April 2020.


Dr De Vos, who is a member of Doctors For Life International (DFL) is supported by DFL and legal team (De Wet Wepener Attorneys and Adv Keith Matthee SC) on a pro bono basis. For more information, please contact Doctors For Life International at 032 481 5550 or [email protected]

Read Dr de Vos’s plea here:

TWO CHARGES AGAINST PRO-LIFE DOCTOR SET ASIDE

Doctors For Life International welcomes the progress made in defending Dr Jacques de Vos against the persecution he had to endure for advising that an unborn baby is a human being. Dr De Vos has been barred from continuing with his medical career for more than two years now and has been charged with unprofessional conduct by the HPCSA. His hearing has been delayed and rescheduled, and charges have been changed on more than one occasion. On 28 and 29 October 2019, Dr De Vos’ legal team argued among other things, that the delays render the hearing unfair and the charges are unlawful.

On 3 December 2019 the Disciplinary Committee made a ruling that counts 3 and 4 are set aside and that the hearing is to continue on counts 1 and 2 only. This means that the only charge now facing Dr De Vos is that he tried to convince a woman not to authorise a doctor to kill her healthy 19 week old unborn child.

Secondly, after some two years of linking their refusal to sign Dr De Vos off with the outstanding disciplinary proceedings, the Wynberg Military Hospital has now abandoned this position. (In this regard the Disciplinary Committee of the HPSCA in effect in its reasons delivered on Tuesday has confirmed this de-linking. Prior to this despite letters to the HPSCA requesting clarity on this, no response was forthcoming from the HPSCA.)

The hearing will continue on *9 December 2019* at the Southern Sun Hotel, Newlands, Cape Town. The parties will try and reach an agreement about the future conduct of this matter as regards to the single incident relating to the unborn child.

Dr De Vos, who is a member of Doctors For Life International (DFL) is supported by DFL and legal team (De Wet Wepener Attorneys and Adv Keith Matthee SC) on a pro bono basis.

For more information, please contact Martus De Wet at [email protected]

PRO LIFE DR DE VOS HPCSA HEARING UPDATE RULINGS AND REASONS OF DISCIPLINARY COMMITTEE’S DECISION AWAITED APPLICATION FOR REVIEW TO HIGH COURT CONSIDERED

Media Release

The long-awaited professional conduct hearing of Dr De Vos, who allegedly advised a mother that her unborn baby is a human being, started on 27 and 28 October 2019 in Cape Town. Over two days, four grounds were argued as to why all the charges against Dr De Vos should be set aside. 

In essence, these grounds were: 

1. The HPSCA did not follow its own regulations before the decision to charge Dr De Vos and thus the hearing was a nullity. 

2. The charges were too vague to enable dr De Vos to prepare his defence. 

3. The length of time between when action was first taken against him, April 2017, and the eventual hearing on 29th October 2019, was excessive and for various reasons unfair. In this regard amongst other things the following was emphasized: All the delays were caused by the HPSCA, without any explanation a single charge was withdrawn in July 2018, only to be reinstated a few months later in November 2018, only to be replaced by four wholly new charges some 3 weeks before the first day of the hearing in August 2019, the severe ongoing prejudice to dr De Vos who as a result of the conduct of the HPSCA has not been able to practice as a doctor since June 2017 up to the present day, despite not yet having had a hearing. 

4. Bad faith by the HPSCA – numerous examples were given, including the changing of the charge sheets and the failure to give necessary information in terms of undertakings by it. 

Various decisions of the Constitutional Court and the Supreme Court of Appeal were relied on by Dr De Vos.

During the first day, the prosecutor for the first time provided some of the information sought by De Vos to prepare for the hearing (e.g. a medical report), and conceded that other crucial information is not in their possession (e.g. the text messages referred to in the charges, and the statement by the complainant (patient) in charges 1 & 2). 

At the end of the second day, after a short adjournment by the disciplinary committee of the HPSCA, it ruled that counts 1 and 2  “were properly before it” (which suggests it was thinking of the nullity argument) and could continue. Furthermore, it stated that it still had to decide about counts 3 and 4. No reasons were provided at the time of the ruling, and the Committee said it would give its reasons for its decision later.

Dr De Vos’s legal representative informed the committee that before they could decide on the way ahead, they needed a decision about counts 3 and 4 and the reasons for all their decisions. The main reason for wanting the reasons is so that a decision can be made as to whether the decision should be taken to the High Court on review. The disciplinary committee was also informed that a piecemeal approach, starting with counts 1 and 2 whilst they made a decision on counts 3 and 4, was impractical and ill advised.

What is of possible significance is that when it made its ruling the committee of the HPSCA stated that counts 1 and 2 were “properly” before it. This suggests that at this stage the committee had only addressed the nullity argument of Dr De Vos, and not the arguments as regards the vagueness of the charges, that a fair hearing was no longer possible and that the matter was driven by bad faith on the part of the HPSCA. When clarity was asked for in this regard, the chairperson stated that their ruling also took into account the other said points. This is one of the reasons why the reasons of the committee are so important – to enable the legal representatives of Dr De Vos to try and understand how the committee arrived at its decision, not least of all how it dealt with the cited decisions of the Constitutional Court and the Supreme Court of Appeal. This is crucial before the legal representatives advise Dr De Vos on the way ahead. 

Dr De Vos, who is a member of Doctors For Life International (DFL) is supported by DFL and legal team (De Wet Wepener Attorneys and Adv Keith Matthee SC) on a pro bono basis. For more information, please contact Doctors For Life International at 032 481 5550 or [email protected]

29 October 2019, DE VOS UPDATE:

The legal team for Dr De Vos argued that the case against him is a nullity and that it should be struck off the roll. Arguments continued until 16h30 and will continue today at 9h30.

Among other things, De Vos’ legal team argued that the charges are vague, the delay of almost three years is excessive, and that the HPCSA has not provided the prescribed information to De Vos’ legal team despite the ruling of the disciplinary committee on 27 August.

The HPCSA prosecutor argued that all information has been provided. This was disputed by De Vos’ legal team. Some additional information was then provided.

However, the committee must still rule on all the points raised by De Vos’ legal team.

Arguments will continue tomorrow at 9h30 at the Southern Sun Hotel, Newlands.

More more information contact Doctors For Life International at [email protected]

DR DE VOS HPCSA HEARING UPDATE

The HPCSA prosecutor confirmed that hearing will proceed on *28, 29 and 30 October 2019* at the Southern Sun Hotel, Newlands. Dr de Vos’ legal team will apply to the six-member disciplinary committee to strike the matter permanently from the roll. The hearing starts at *10h00* and is open to the public to attend.

Despite best effort of Dr de Vos’ legal team to obtain the prescribed documents needed for a fair hearing, the HPCSA has not provided it since 2017.  Dr de Vos (who is member of DFL) has been barred (without a hearing) from practising medicine since July 2017 on allegations that he advised a woman that her unborn child is a human being. He was then charged for unprofessional conduct by the HPCSA but the hearing has been delayed on a number of occasions by the HPCSA.

For more information, please contact Doctors For Life International at 032 481 5550 or [email protected]
(Issued by Doctors For Life International)

UNFAIR PERSECUTION OF DOCTOR WHO WANTED TO SAVE UNBORN CHILD, MUST STOP

Claims that the HPCSA Pro Forma Complainant (prosecutor) has finally provided Dr De Vos with the prescribed information for him to prepare for the HPCSA Disciplinary Inquiry on 28 – 30 October 2019, are false. Although the HPCSA sent Dr De Vos some documents on 14 October 2019, none of the documents provided are that which the Disciplinary Inquiry ordered the Pro Forma Complainant to provide no later than 30 August 2019. Dr De Vos, who is a member of Doctors For Life, has been charged by the HPCSA for advising that unborn children are human life. He has also been barred from practising for more than two years now without any form of hearing.

The information required for Dr De Vos to prepare for the hearing against him, has been requested as early as April 2018. Instead of providing the documents, the charges were withdrawn to avoid the hearing scheduled for 3 and 4 August 2018, only to be reinstated but scheduled for more than 12 months later (27  and 28 August 2019). Dr De Vos’ legal team (De Wet Wepener Attorneys and Adv Keith Matthee SC) continuously pleaded with the HPCSA to provide the information so that Dr De Vos can prepare for the hearing. On 27 August 2019, the Chairperson of the Committee, Mr A Swart ordered the Pro Forma Complainant to provide the required information not later than 30 August 2019.

The order included that the HPCSA Pro Forma Complainant was to provide Dr De Vos with:   

1.  How far was the pregnancy of the complainant?

2.  Was the pregnancy terminated?

3.  If so, what method was used to terminate the pregnancy?

4.  Copies of the statement by the complainant(s) about the allegations contained in the charge sheet.

5.  Copies of any other statements. 

6.  A copy of the written complaint addressed to the registrar in terms of section 2(1) of the Regulations Relating to the Conduct of the Inquiries in Alleged Unprofessional Conduct (Health Professions Act)

7.  Copies of the alleged pamphlets and text messages.

8.  More particularity is required as regards where and when during 2015 the alleged conduct happened.  

The HPCSA Pro Forma Complainant has only provided three statements to Dr De Vos’ legal team, some 6 weeks after the information had to be furnished.. None of the other required information has been provided.    Even if all the information is now provided, it would be so late, that it would be impossible for Dr De Vos’ legal team to prepare properly. In line with a recent Constitutional Court decision (Stokwe v Member of the Executive Council: Department of Education, Eastern Cape and Others) delivered in February 2019, the extreme delays in this hearing (all caused by the HPCSA functionaries) now render the hearing unfair.   

Doctors For Life joins the calls of thousands of people who are now calling on the HPCSA to drop the charges and to stop the grossly unjust treatment of Dr De Vos. 

FAIR HEARING NO LONGER POSSIBLE FOR DOCTOR WHO RESPECTED LIVES OF UNBORN PATIENTS

In April 2017 Dr De Vos was prematurely removed from the Gynaecology and Obstetrics rotation at 2 Military Hospital, Wynberg. He was given no hearing by the concerned doctors. He was transferred to Casualty until the completion of his 2 ½ year internship period. (This is usually 2 years but as a result of his disability he was allowed to complete his internship in 2 ½ years).

During May 2017 the HPCSA was informed of this situation by Dr De Vos. During June 2017 Dr De Vos tendered to complete the remaining time in the Gynaecology department if that would still be necessary for the successful completion of his internship. 2 Military Hospital refused and handed the matter to the HPSCA.

After countless letters from his attorneys, the HPSCA eventually decided to charge Dr De Vos and set the disciplinary hearing down for August 2018, more than a year after he completed his internship period in June 2017. Despite the severe prejudice to Dr De Vos of this long delay, he was given no explanation by the HPSCA. A week before the set down date the HPSCA unilaterally withdrew the charge – once again, no explanation was given. Precisely the same charge was reinstated a few months later in 2018, but the new hearing date stipulated by the HPSCA was now August 2019. Once again no explanation was given for this conduct by the HPSCA, including why the long delay before the next stipulated hearing date.

In July 2019 the charge was changed to totally different charges, including changing the date and year in which the alleged offences were committed.

Throughout the period from 2017 up until August 2019, Dr De Vos’s attorneys have been trying to obtain information about the charges in order that they can prepare a defence. This has not been forthcoming. At the hearing in August 2019 this was brought to the attention of the disciplinary committee. As a result of this the hearing could not proceed on that day. However the HPSCA representative undertook to have the relevant information to Dr De Vos by 30th August 2019. The new date set down for the hearing was at the end of October 2019.

As of today, 12th October 2019, the said information has not been given to Dr De Vos. This information includes basic things for example such as the original letters of complaint against Dr De Vos which are required by law before any disciplinary process can be initiated against a doctor. Another example is the statement by the woman who dr De Vos engaged about her decision to end the life of her 19 week old unborn child, the subject matter of one of the new charges. The only reasonable explanation for this failure by the HPSCA is that there never were such letters of complaint nor was there ever such a statement.

The result of this conduct by certain doctors at 2 Military Hospital and the HPSCA, is THAT WITHOUT A HEARING DR DE VOS HAS BEEN SUSPENDED FROM PRACTISING AS A DOCTOR FOR IN EXCESS OF 2 YEARS. He has also not been able to do his community service. Every delay in this matter has been the fault exclusively of the HPSCA and their various representatives. He thus has been severely punished, and continues to be punished, WITHOUT any hearing or explanation.

In a letter dated 9 October 2019, his attorneys have now advised the HPSCA and the other parties concerned as follows:

  1. “Despite the daily severe prejudice to Dr De Vos flowing from the conduct of all concerned and the close proximity of his disciplinary hearing, other than Dr Molomo, no one else has responded to our urgent letter to you dated 30 September 2019.”
  2. “Given the failure … to comply timeously with the undertaking concerning the information needed by Dr De Vos to prepare his defence, a fair hearing on the stipulated dates has now become impossible. Furthermore having regard to the Constitutional Court decision in Stokwe v Member of the Executive Council: Department of Education, Eastern Cape and Others (CCT33/18) [2019] ZACC 3, any further delay in this matter beyond the end of October 2019 would be unfair. All things highlighted in that judgment considered, not least of all the length of delay at your behest, the complete lack of explanation for this delay and the severe prejudice to our client as a result of this delay, there can be no other outcome but that the HPSCA immediately withdraw all charges against Dr De Vos.”
  3. “Furthermore, to mitigate his losses suffered during the past 2 or so years, it is hoped that the HPSCA will accept that having served 2 ½ years internship he can now proceed to do his community service. In this regard, when making application for his community service you are hereby informed that unless you specify otherwise by the 11th October 2019, Dr de Vos will inform the hospital to which he makes application that he has completed his internship to the satisfaction of the Health Council/HPSCA and now qualifies to commence his community service. We are adopting this approach as our experience in the last two years is that all parties concerned simply either do not respond or fail to respond timeously to our letters/requests as regards the ongoing severe prejudice to Dr De Vos. Alternatively, they simply withdraw charges and then reinstate the same charges a few months later. Or they do not provide the necessary information to enable him to defend himself. The result of all this being, as we stated in our previous letter, that Dr De Vos has already been punished by not being able to practise as a doctor for more than two years, even though he has not yet had a hearing. AND AT THE END OF THE DAY HE HAS SERVED AN INTERNSHIP OF 2 ½ YEARS.”
  4. “We need to highlight that if after investigation it is established that individuals can be identified who were part of the cause of the unlawful damages suffered by Dr De Vos, especially from this letter forwards, such will be held accountable in their personal capacities. As we said in our previous letter to you, we do not see why the taxpayer should have to foot the bill for the negligence/mala fides of individuals.”

The HPSCA and the other parties concerned also have not responded to this letter of 9th October 2019.

The above is a very short summary of the efforts by Dr De Vos and his attorneys to resolve this matter over the last 2 ½ years. Throughout, the HPSCA and various other doctors have in effect done nothing, other than without a hearing prevent Dr De Vos from practicing as a doctor. The only reasonable conclusion to be reached is that the HPSCA has decided to punish Dr De Vos for his medical view, rooted in science, that “doing good, doing no harm” to the life of a human being includes the lives of unborn children. However faced with the medical evidence of people like Dr Warton (his evidence is attached hereto), it knows it will not be able to sustain a charge against Dr De Vos and thus has simply continued to delay the disciplinary process.

EXPERT SUMMARY OF DR CHRISTOPHER WARTON

Case ref: MP 073414179/20899438
In the disciplinary inquiry of: DR JH DE VOS

TRAINING AND EXPERIENCE

  1. I am a qualified medical practitioner having qualified in 1975 and have been registered with the Health Professions Council of South Africa since 1978 Registration number MP0203882. I have taught anatomy, embryology and neuroscience to the medical students and students of the Allied Health Professions at the University of Cape Town since 1980.
  2. I have written two manuals for the teaching of Embryology which have been used extensively by undergraduate medical students at UCT in recent years.
  3. The information relating to embryonic and fetal development relevant to this case has been very well established for many years and is not a matter of the latest research.
  4. The main question posed to me to address in this opinion is whether it is reasonable for a health practitioner, in the light of her/his undergraduate education in embryology, to regard a fetus as human life when seeking to comply with “doing good, doing no harm” to a patient.

EVIDENCE TO BE LEAD:

  • 5) TIMING OF THE BEGINNING OF LIFE
    5.1 Biologically the life of an independent human organism begins at the time of fertilization (conception). At this time its genetic code is set and as a consequence its future physical characteristics are defined with precision. Thus if one were able to read its DNA at this time one could predict its adult form as accurately as one might by examining it’s adult identical twin if indeed it had one.
    5.2 The physical differences between such individuals are the result of differing environmental experiences. Clearly the organism will develop enormously over the subsequent months and years but there is no event during development which fundamentally changes it from a non-human organism to a human organism.
    5.3 Various times or events of development have been used to attempt to define the initiation of human personhood for various practical reasons but the life of the organism is one seamless continuous process.
  • 6) THE NATURE OF A 19 WEEK FETUS
    6.1 There is no specific event which defines the developing fetus as being at 19 weeks. Its heart has started to beat by 24 days of embryonic development (3 ½ weeks). Early brain development is present by 5 weeks, fingers at 7 weeks, toes at 8 weeks, early fetal movements from between 9 and 12 weeks and so on. These fetal movements may be felt by some women in their first pregnancy at 18th – 20th weeks of gestation which equates to 16-18 weeks of development of the fetus.
    6.2 Different organ systems develop at different rates, partially related to when they will be needed. Thus the heart develops early as the embryo needs a circulatory system very early but lungs will only be needed after birth and so develop later. Brain function will, of course, continue to develop for perhaps two or more decades after birth. The 19-week fetus is obviously not cognitively advanced –certainly less than a newborn, but structurally he/she has a fully human form and obvious human appearance and her/his movements are already being felt by his/her mother.
    6.3 We may debate philosophically or legally her/his status but it is entirely reasonable for a person seeing such a fetus to regard him/her as a small human being. In my experience that is a normal response to seeing such a fetus.
    7) In the light of the above in my opinion it is entirely rational and reasonable for a medical practitioner to view a 19 week old fetus as human life to whom she must do good and do no harm. In my experience as a medical practitioner and teacher that is a normal response to seeing such a fetus. This would for example explain why a medical practitioner would carefully consider the effects of any medication she prescribes for the mother, on the fetus.
    SHOULD A WOMAN BE INFORMED OF THE DEVELOPMENT AND APPEARANCE OF HER FETUS WHEN BEING COUNSELLED PRIOR TO A PROPOSED ABORTION.
    8.1 It is usual when obtaining informed consent from a patient to tell them all relevant information so they can make a proper decision. It is unethical to hide from them relevant information.
    8.2 If a woman has an abortion and later discovers that the fetus was more developed than she realized she could legitimately complain that her consent was not informed. It is thus entirely reasonable for a health practitioner to seek to inform such a patient of the nature of the fetus whose life is to be terminated.

Dr C M R Warton
MBChB LRCP MRCS
HPCSA REGISTRATION NUMBER MP0203882