Two women jailed over illegal abortions carried out in Hong Kong public housing flat

They were arrested in an undercover operation after policewomen posed as customers

PUBLISHED : Monday, 21 August, 2017, 8:30pm
UPDATED : Monday, 21 August, 2017, 11:34pm

Two women were jailed for 10 to 17 months by a Hong Kong court on Monday for their roles in illegal abortions performed at a Lam Tin public rental housing flat where a pressure cooker was used to sterilise surgical instruments.

Li Shuk-fan, 75, admitted at the High Court to two counts of conspiracy to use an instrument with intent to procure a miscarriage. She was jailed for 17 months.

She was responsible for conducting the surgeries and claimed to have 30 years of experience as an “obstetrician” in mainland China.

Illegal abortions carried out in small Hong Kong public housing flat, High Court hears

Lo Wun-yi, 65, a registered Chinese medicine practitioner who referred women to Li for the procedures, had earlier pleaded guilty. She was given 10 months in prison.

Abortion is legal in Hong Kong only when the pregnancy is deemed to place the mother at risk. It is also allowed if doctors conclude that the child would be physically or mentally abnormal after birth.

Consent from at least two doctors is required. The legal abortions are carried out at the Family Planning Association or authorised hospitals.

Lo and Li were arrested in September 2014. The court heard that they had collaborated on three to four illegal abortions in a 300 sq ft flat in Kwong Tin Estate since earlier that year.

Judge Andrew Bruce SC said the two did not consider the safety of patients even though their operations were carried out smoothly.

“If something had gone wrong, there would be serious consequences for the patients,” the deputy High Court judge said.

On September 15, 2014, an undercover policewoman, who pretended to be pregnant, visited Lo’s practice at her home in a Lam Tin residential building with another undercover officer.

Lo brought the two to Li’s home at a public estate flat for the abortion the next day. The officers were told the procedure would only last two minutes.

Police entered the flat and arrested Lo and Li after one of the undercover officers went to the toilet and called her colleagues.

Surgical instruments were found during the search, including a pressure cooker used for sterilising operating tools.

The Department of Health said the Chinese Medicine Council would follow up on Lo’s registration as a practitioner.

Based on current regulations, a practitioner will have his or her name removed from the registry, or face other disciplinary action such as warnings, if found guilty of professional misconduct after a council inquiry.