August 3, 2012 (LifeSiteNews.com) - An Australian obstetrician who published a website explaining how to perform late-term chemical abortions without medical supervision will not be banned from practicing medicine.
The Queensland Civil and Administrative Tribunal (QCAT) last week published its decision that Dr. Adrienne Freeman was guilty of unprofessional conduct - a level down from the more serious charge of professional misconduct.
A sanction will be decided for Dr. Freeman in September at the earliest.
In April, LifeSiteNews.com exclusively obtained a copy of the website at the centre of the proceedings - www.safehomeabortion.com.au - which Dr Freeman subtitled “The Planet Guide for Lonely Females” and “Safe Choice, Secret Choice, Eclectic Choice.”
The website was originally published by Dr. Freeman in 2010, although she pulled it down voluntarily more than a month before it was due to be formally launched, after the Medical Board of Australia and the Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RANZCOG) questioned its legality.
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It featured six videos with step-by-step instructions explaining how to cause an abortion up to 29-weeks-gestation solely using the drug misoprostol, which Dr Freeman suggested buying illegally on the black market.
In one video, Dr Freeman says, “Side effects can be expected, and in fact are eagerly awaited.”
Dr. Daniel Challis, an experienced obstetrician from the Royal Hospital for Women in Sydney, analyzed for QCAT the online advice given by Dr. Freeman, finding that it could potentially result in babies being carried to term with severe abnormalities such as Moebius Syndrome, or even the death of the mother.
He also listed a series of risks stemming from a lack of medical supervision, including cervical shock, low blood pressure, infection, prolonged uterine bleeding and the difficulty laypersons would experience determining if the abortion had been successful.
Judge Fleur Kingham conceded that, had Dr Freeman’s advice been followed, it could have posed a real safety risk to members of the public. Nonetheless, she did not find that this constituted professional misconduct, defined as “conduct substantially below the standard reasonably expected of a registered health practitioner of an equivalent level of training or experience.”
She said she accepted Dr Freeman’s motivation was “well-intentioned, albeit seriously misguided, when considered in the context of her ideological position about increasing the access of women to termination services.”
“There is no suggestion that Dr Freeman intended harm, rather that she hoped this would raise the profile of an issue about which she feels passionately,” Judge Kingham stated.
In 2010 - after a drawn-out series of appeals - Dr. Freeman was found guilty of unprofessional conduct for sending a patient home to abort her 19-week-old baby using misoprostol without clear instructions or supervision.
QCAT’s decision this week came only several days after the British Medical Journal published the results of a 10-year survey showing that Australian medical tribunals more frequently remove or deregister doctors for character flaws and lack of insight rather than for errors in care or poor clinical knowledge.