Kiwi Doctor Guilty of Prescribing Ulcer Drug to Pregnant Women For Abortion

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By Reissa Su | April 11, 2014 6:34 PM EST

A rural doctor in New Zealand has been found guilty of supplying ulcer drugs to "desperate" women who wanted to end their pregnancies.

REUTERS
A balloon with the words "The right to live" is seen among umbrellas during a anti-abortion march, in Madrid November 17, 2013.

The doctor, whose identity was kept unknown, has been suspended from his practice after the Health Practitioners Disciplinary Tribunal's findings. The health professional was guilty of misconduct for giving ulcer drugs to pregnant women to induce abortions. The suspended female physician told the Tribunal that what she did was a "necessary service."

According to reports, one of the cases involved a woman whose fallopian tube was removed because of a ruptured ectopic pregnancy. The doctor, known only as Dr. N, prescribed misoprostol to four women who wanted to have abortions. The drug is commonly used to treat stomach ulcers. The ulcer drug cannot be prescribed to pregnant women since it can cause miscarriages or fetus damage.

The tribunal said Dr. N tried to hide her actions by failing to update the records of her patients. She has been practicing medicine for more than 30 years. She was reported by a fifth-year medical student who saw her giving a woman pills tucked in an envelope and overheard her saying, "I think you are having a miscarriage and this will help it along." The identity of the medical student remained anonymous to the public.

The Tribunal said the witness had understood the female patient was given a drug for abortion. But the pregnant woman was not informed of the drug's effects. No clinical exam was also conducted.

When asked why she gave the ulcer drug, Dr. N said she was aware that her license could be suspended but she had "saved " the patient from getting the abortion procedure done.

Dr. N added it was a "necessary service" and she felt "justified" in her decision to give ulcer drugs to pregnant women.

The Tribunal said the ulcer drug poses risks when used to induce an abortion since the desired outcome might not happen or the pregnancy will continue with the risk of a birth defect. If a miscarriage did occur, it might "not be complete."

The Tribunal charged the doctor for violating the Contraception, Sterilization and Abortion Act 1977. The doctor's  suspension will lapse on Nov. 27. She was granted another practicing certificate 3 days later which will last for 12 months. 

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(Photo: REUTERS / Javier Barbancho)
A balloon with the words "The right to live" is seen among umbrellas during a anti-abortion march, in Madrid November 17, 2013.
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