A legal nightmare for young pro-life doctor Jacques de Vos finally came to an end this week when the Heath Professionals Council of South Africa (HPCSA) decided to withdraw all charges against him after more than two years of delays and postponements.
“We are delighted — it is victory and we think it is due. But it’s not the end of the road when it comes to the case itself,” said Martus de Wet, attorney for the former military hospital doctor who was suspended in June 2017 and subsequently charged with unprofessional conduct because of his pro-life views.
He said that they viewed the HPCSA’s “withdrawal” as closing of their case but since De Vos had pleaded he was entitled to an acquittal or a conviction.
“We want an acquittal with reasons; we have said to the panel we have presented [expert] evidence to you which has never been contradicted, so you must pronounce on it and tell us that a doctor who acts in that way is not in breach of his ethical duty,” he said.
He said the pro-deo defence team, led at the hearings by Adv Keith Matthee, has also asked the disciplinary committee to request the HPCSA to investigate those responsible with driving a vendetta against De Vos and to charge them with unprofessional conduct.
According to De Wet, the legal team has good evidence that the entire case against De Vos was set in motion and driven by certain people in positions of power at 2 Military Hospital, Wynberg at the time — including Drs Van Wyk (gynaecology head) and Ismail (intern curator) — who have allegedly been pushing an agenda to deal as harshly as possible with the young doctor because of his view that an unborn child is a human being.
“Our intention is to get to the root of it — somebody needs to be held accountable for the suffering,” said De Wet.
The malicious campaign against him has prevented De Vos from working as a doctor for nearly three and a half years, which, considering the fact that he has a serious health problem, is a massive gap out of his career, said De Wet. De Vos suffers from deep vein thrombosis and uses a wheelchair.
He said once De Vos is formally acquitted of all charges “he will pursue his options for damages as well”.
Commenting on charges that De Vos faced during the hearing, that by advising a woman seeking an abortion that her unborn child was a human being, he had not acted in her best interests or respected her autonomy, De Wet said right from the beginning of the hearing, for which they have more than 300 pages of transcripts, the defence asked the HPCSA about the whereabouts of the complainant.
“And there has been ducking and diving until now — and finally there is no complainant. So, it really begs the question: who is behind this?” he said.
In recent defence heads of argument submitted to the disciplinary committee, it is stated that the defence submitted the summaries of the evidence of three expert witnesses to the committee. The submissions were never contradicted or challenged, which vindicated the evidence that an unborn child is human life, that an elective abortion may result in long term adverse emotional and psychological damage to the mother, and that adoptive parents are freely available in the Western Cape.
The heads of argument also notes that the expert evidence — including evidence that both the pregnant mother and the unborn child were patients of De Vos — supports the young doctor’s claims that he acted in a highly professional way towards his patients.
The expert evidence was obtained by Doctors For Life International, of which De Vos is a member.
The ACDP, which last year brought the injustice being perpetrated against De Vos to the attention of the Department of Health in the portfolio committee, today called on the HPCSA to apologise to the pro-life doctor.
Although the HPCSA has withdrawn charges against De Vos it should apologise to him for hindering his career, says ACDP MP Marie Sukers in a tweet posted today.
The HPCSA in its withdrawal of charges against Dr Jacques De Vos, should apologize for the impact their long drawn out disciplinary process had on the career of the young physician. His convictions and beliefs,is what was on trial! Unashamedly Christian, unashamedly Prolife!!— Marie Sukers (@SukersMarie) October 7, 2020