Mon, 14 Feb 2000

Police arrest doctor, midwife over abortion

JAKARTA (JP): Police detectives in Kelapa Gading, North Jakarta, arrested a doctor, his male assistant and a midwife for allegedly performing some 200 illegal abortions over the past 11 months.

Speaking on Saturday, North Jakarta Police chief Col. Wisjnu Amat Sastro identified the suspects as doctor Agung Waluyo, 41, his assistant Arman Sasmita, alias Roby, and midwife Siti Jubaedah, alias Jujuk.

The officer said the abortions were performed at the doctor's home on Jl. Musik Raya.

"The midwife assisted the doctor in his work and set the prices as well, while his assistant was assigned to dispose of the aborted fetuses in the nearby Sunter River," Wisjnu said.

Women were charged different prices for the abortions, depending on how far they were into their pregnancies. They prices ranged from between Rp 600,000 (US$80) and Rp 2 million, the officer said.

"Agung said he knew abortions were illegal, but he said he had to do it since he felt sorry for the pregnant women, who did not want to keep their babies for various reasons, including financial and emotional difficulties," Wisjnu said.

Speaking to reporters, Agung, a father of two children, expressed his sorrow at performing the abortions.

"I got this calling ... it was like a social responsibility for me to get rid of these women's problems ... at a reasonable price," the 1986 graduate of the School of Medicine at the University of Indonesia said.

Agung claimed to have done his best to be selective about which patients he would perform abortions for.

"I was very selective about my patients. I would never abort a fetus that was over two months old," he said.

Jujuk, however, said women were charged more if their pregnancies had advanced to the point where it became risky to perform an abortion.

"If it (the fetus) was already more than two months old, which is risky for such operations, we usually raised the price," she said.

The midwife did not say how much she was paid for assisting Agung in the operations.

Dumping fee

Roby said he was paid Rp 100,000 per day for dumping the aborted fetuses into the river.

He said he usually dumped the fetuses at night to avoid detection. "I would never risk someone seeing ... I had to be very careful."

In late 1997, plastic bags filled with dozens of fetuses were discovered under the overpass of the Tanjung Priok-Pluit toll road on Jl. RE Martadinata in North Jakarta. A few days earlier, a dozen fetuses had been found in Central Jakarta.

City police detectives who worked on the two cases arrested two doctors, three midwives, a number of other employees and pregnant women for their involvement in illegal abortions at two separate maternity clinics -- Clinic Herlina and Clinic Amelia.

Police said hundreds of fetuses had been aborted at the two clinics since 1986.

The Central Jakarta District Court sentenced the doctors and the midwives to jail terms ranging from between one and six years.

The stiffest terms were handed down to doctors Budiman and Jaya Lelana, and the owners of the clinics, who were also midwives -- Herlina, Kurniasih, alias Cicih, and Yuli Budianti. (ylt)