Melbourne doctor’s abortion stance may be punished
- by:Peter Rolfe
- From:Herald Sun
- April 28, 20139:00PM
Dr Mark Hobart fears he may face tough sanctions after reporting an abortion specialist for providing an abortion to a couple who wanted a boy instead of a girl. Picture: Jon Hargest Source: Herald Sun
A MELBOURNE doctor who refused to refer a couple for an abortion because they wanted only a boy has admitted he could face tough sanctions.
Dr Mark Hobart fears he could be punished for refusing to give the Melbourne couple a referral after discovering they were seeking an abortion because they didn’t want to have a girl.
Obstetricians have proposed parents be banned from knowing the sex of unborn babies until it is too late to terminate, to prevent gender-based abortions.
By refusing to provide a referral for a patient on moral grounds or refer the matter to another doctor, Dr Hobart admits he has broken the law and could face suspension, conditions on his ability to practice or even be deregistered.
But he was willing to risk punishment in pursuit of principles. He said he did not believe any doctor in Victoria would have helped a couple have an abortion just because they wanted a boy.
“I’ve got a conscientious objection to abortion, I’ve refused to refer in this case a woman for abortion and it appears that I have broken the rules,” he said.
“But just because it’s the law doesn’t mean it’s right.”
The Sunday Herald Sun yesterday revealed the couple had asked Dr Hobart to refer them to an abortion clinic after discovering at 19 weeks they were having a girl when they wanted a boy.
Victoria’s Abortion Law Reform Act 2008 specifies the obligations of registered health practitioners who have a “conscientious objection” to abortion.
Under the Act, if a woman requests a doctor to advise on a proposed abortion and the practitioner has a conscientious objection, he or she must refer the woman to a practitioner who does not conscientiously object.
“That is the letter of the law,” he said. “It leaves me in limbo.
“It’s never been tested … it is a very complicated area.”
Medical Practitioners Board spokeswoman Nicole Newton said doctors were bound by the law and a professional code of conduct.
“The board expects practitioners to practise lawfully and to provide safe care and to meet the standards set out in the board’s code of conduct,” she said.
Another doctor who was brought before the Medical Board in January for airing his views against abortion was cautioned and warned he could be deregistered if it happened again.