Does this change your opinion of abortion?
A GOVERNMENT agency is launching an inquiry into doctors’ reports that up to 50 babies a year are born alive after botched National Health Service abortions.
The investigation, by the Confidential Enquiry into Maternal and Child Health (CEMACH), comes amid growing unease among clinicians over a legal ambiguity that could see them being charged with infanticide.
[The Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists] guidelines say that babies aborted after more than 21 weeks and six days of gestation should have their hearts stopped by an injection of potassium chloride before being delivered. In practice, few doctors are willing or able to perform the delicate procedure.
For the abortion of younger foetuses, labour is induced by drugs in the expectation that the infant will not survive the birth process. Guidelines say that doctors should ensure that the drugs they use prevent such babies being alive at birth.
In practice, according to Stuart Campbell, former professor of obstetrics and gynaecology at St George’s hospital, London, a number do survive.
“They can be born breathing and crying at 19 weeks’ gestation,” he said. “I am not anti-abortion, but as far as I am concerned this is sub-standard medicine.”
This is a concern for these surgeons because:
“If a baby is born alive following a failed abortion and then dies (because of lack of care), you could potentially be charged with murder,” said Shantala Vadeyar, a consultant obstetrician at South Manchester University Hospitals NHS Trust, who led the study.
Not that it’s an ethical problem, they’re just worried if they’ll get sued. Who has the right to determine when life begins or what lives are worth living?
The issue will be highlighted by Gianna Jessen, 28, who survived an attempt to abort her. She is to speak at a parliamentary meeting on December 6 organised by the Alive and Kicking campaign, which is lobbying for a reduction of the abortion limit to 18 weeks.
Jessen, a musician from Nashville, Tennessee, was left with cerebral palsy but is to run in the London marathon next April to raise funds for fellow sufferers.
“If abortion is about women’s rights, then what were my rights?” she asked.
“If people are going to talk about abortion, then it’s important for them to know that these are babies that can be born alive and survive.”