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In 2012, Claudine Domoney, a London teaching hospital gynaecologist and sexual and reproductive health (SRH) specialist of 25 years standing, received a text message asking if she offered sex-based terminations in her private clinic. She replied that she did not, but offered the patient an appointment to come in to talk. It was a consultation that would result in criminal investigation and a General Medical Council (GMC) fitness to practice hearing. Following the recent case of Dr Hadiza Bawa-Garba, a paediatrician convicted of gross negligence manslaughter and subsequently struck off the medical register,1 I spoke with Claudine about her own experience.
A British-Asian woman, Neha, came to that consultation at Claudine’s practice accompanied by a white woman who introduced herself as Neha’s advocate. Claudine described how the advocate dominated the room, vocally as well as physically, and sat at an odd angle which, it was later revealed, was due to a hidden camera filming the encounter. "At one point, I did something which I don’t think I’ve ever done in a consultation before," Claudine said. "I put my hand up to block this other woman who kept intervening. ‘I need to hear what Neha thinks,’ I repeated."
Neha explained that her second husband already had a boy from a previous marriage, and the couple now wanted a girl. Neha was pregnant with another boy, and so she wanted a termination. This reasoning didn’t add up. "The only thing that would have fitted the odd dynamic was coercion of some sort, such as domestic violence," said Claudine. “Usually you can see where the discord is, whether it’s a bad relationship with the partner or the mother. Even if they’re not in the room, you can feel them through what the patient says. But I couldn’t work it out." Twenty-five years of practice had …
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