Dr Jacques De Vos was suspended by the Health Professions Council of South Africa in April 2017 for allegedly dissuading a woman to terminate her healthy 19-week pregnancy.
The HPCSA initially brought 4 charges against De Vos:
- Dissuading a patient from terminating her pregnancy in 2016 when he was at 2 Military Hospital in Wynberg
- Failing to respect the patient’s autonomy
- Distributing pamphlets that imposed his religious beliefs at the hospital on colleagues, patients and members of the public, while also attempting to influence his colleagues to adopt his views by sending them text messages.
- Failing to remain objective when advocating for contraceptives and not having acted in a patient’s best interest
Charges 3 & 4 were dropped by the HPCSA’s professional conduct committee after De Vos’s lawyer argued that they were vague and unlawful. In December 2019 De Vos pleaded ‘not guilty’ on the remaining charges.
Case ongoing after multiple delays
The hearing has been ongoing since August 2018. According to reports, there were several delays, most notably when two of the charges were dropped and HPCSA prosecutor, Zolile Gajana, asked for time to bring a high court application to review the decision of the panel to set aside two of the charges against De Vos. In March 2020 there was still no application received.
After the December 2019 postponement, the court date was set for 2 April, however, they could not proceed due to COVID-19.
While the case has been delayed, Dr De Vos was barred from practising medicine since July 2017.
2 Military Hospital acknowledges wrongdoing
Doctors For Life (DFL) writes that “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.”
DFL says the new officer commanding of 2 Military Hospital wrote to Dr De Vos’ attorneys, acknowledging the wrongful actions of his predecessors and committed to assisting Dr De Vos to be signed off. He has since been signed off by the paediatrics department, however, Dr Van Wyk allegedly persistently refuses to sign Dr De Vos off.
The DFL started a fundraising campaign to financially support Dr De Vos’s legal team. To date, they have raised R121 986,68.
The organisation says the funds will be used for direct expenses such as telephone, printing, travel expenses, accommodation, including local and/or international experts. The team is working pro bono and thus funds will not be used to pay attorney or advocate fees.