US PROFESSOR TO TESTIFY IN TRIAL OF PRO-LIFE DOCTOR

Lawyers for Dr Jacques de Vos, who has been charged by the HPCSA for allegedly advising a mother that her healthy 19 week unborn baby is a human being, have given notice to the HPCSA that US professor Priscilla Coleman may be called as an expert witness.

Prof Coleman, Professor of Human Development and Family Studies, Bowling Green State University, Ohio, USA is a leading international expert on abortion and mental health. According to Prof Coleman, “over the past several decades, the number of peer-reviewed studies identifying adverse mental health outcomes associated with abortion have increased dramatically”.

She states that “hundreds of studies have revealed that women who choose abortion experience increased risk of mental health problems, including substance abuse, anxiety, depression, suicidal ideation and suicide, among other conditions and symptoms”.

Her research offers the largest quantitative estimate of mental health risks associated with abortion available in the world. Results (involving 877 297 participants, 163 880 of whom experienced an abortion) revealed that women who aborted compared to women who have not, experienced 81% increased risk for mental health problems. The results revealed that women who have abortions have the following increased risks: anxiety disorders 34%, depression 37%, alcohol abuse 110%, marijuana abuse 220% and suicide behaviours 155%.

After many delays on the part of the HPCSA since 2017, Dr De Vos pleaded “not guilty” to professional misconduct before a HPCSA Professional Conduct Committee in December 2019. The HPCSA prosecutor must now commence with evidence at the hearing scheduled on 2 April 2020 in Cape Town.

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 032 481 5550.

EXPERT SUMMARY OF DR CHRISTOPHER WARTON

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:

  1. 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.

  1. 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.

8. 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.

9. The question of whether the fetus is born alive may be of concern to those seeking abortion. If a surgical method is adopted the body of the fetus is dismembered during the procedure and therefore it cannot be born alive. If a medical method is used the fetus may be born alive or may have died during the induced labour. A fetus born at 19 weeks cannot survive even with intensive medical care. The most common cause of its subsequent death is related to the immaturity of the lungs which makes respiration very difficult. While in the uterus the fetus may be active and this is generally felt by the mother. If born alive the newborn may have a heartbeat, breathing movements and some limb movements. It will die within minutes or a few hours.

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

Prof. Chris Warton to represent Doctors For Life Int. in a TV debate on abortion.

Upcoming event:

This week Thursday, 13 February 2020 Prof. Chris Warton will be representing Doctors For Life International (DFL) in a TV debate on the topic of abortion. The debate will be a live broadcast between 06:00am & 08:00am on “Groot Ontbyt” on Kyknet as well as “Groot FM”. (It’s a TV and a radio station combined)

Prof. Warton is a professor in anatomy at the University of Cape Town, and one of DFL’s longest standing members. Please tune in and support Prof Warton and DFL by sending comments to the station’s SMS and whatsApp lines below during the show.

Tune in to Groot FM Live Streaming: http://ndstream.net/grootfm/pc.htm

Comment via WhatsApp: 061 610 4576
Send SMS: 49 905

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: