July 5, 2022

Dobbed in: a Victorian doctor censured over Facebook post

Dobbed in: a Victorian doctor pinged for his views on abortion

Doctors: beware of Facebook. A doctor in the Australian state of Victoria, where abortion referrals are mandatory, stated in a Facebook discussion that he would refuse to refer. It was a purely hypothetical situation.

However, one of the other participants in the discussion reported “Dr X” to the Medical Board of Australia. He was summoned for a Star Chamber grilling lasting 70 minutes. Fourteen months later, he received a written rebuke warning him that he had acted unprofessionally.

Details about the case are sketchy, as the Board’s deliberations are secret. But Paul Smith, a columnist for the journal Australian Doctor, said that “the board’s actions against Dr X are cause for concern”.

“Why should the medical board have sanctioned Dr X at all? There was no patient at the centre of the case. And importantly isn’t the board confusing its role as protector of the public with that of law enforcer?”

Under a 2008 law, doctors in Victoria with a conscientious objection to abortion are required to refer women who request an abortion to another doctor who will do it. 

Michael Cook
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Victoria