International

22-week infant survives for two days after botched abortion

abortion, premature

An Italian baby survived an abortion and was left for dead, raising concerns about the conduct of the hospital staff.

The baby’s mother opted to have an abortion after discovering that the baby would have a disability. But the baby, who was at 22 weeks gestation, survived the abortion for two days. Instead of providing him medical care, however, doctors at the Rossano Calabro hospital left him to die. A priest found him 20 hours after the procedure, wrapped in a sheet with his umbilical cord still attached, moving and breathing. He immediately informed doctors, who then had the baby boy taken to a neighboring hospital’s neonatal intensive care unit. Unfortunately, it was too late; the little boy died.

Italian law mandates that a baby born alive after an abortion should receive medical care, so Italian police are now investigating the case as a homicide, while the government has opened an investigation into the hospital staff.

“The minister of health will send inspectors to the hospital in Rossano Calabro to investigate what actually happened, and to see if the Law 194, which prohibits abortion when there is a possibility of the foetus living separately from the mother, and permits it only when the continuation of the pregnancy would result in life-threatening danger to the mother,” said Eugenia Rocella, undersecretary of state in the health department. “[T]his would be a case of deliberate abandonment of a seriously premature neonate, possibly also with some form of disability, an act contrary to any sense of human compassion but also of any accepted professional medical practice.”

Undersecretary Rocella added that the baby was “an Italian citizen equal to all the others, and is entitled to all fundamental rights, including the right to health and therefore to be given full support.”

The case has spurred even more controversy, as it is the second baby to have survived an abortion in just three years. In Italy, abortion is legal in the first trimester, but after it is limited to specific circumstances, like the prenatal diagnosis of a disability. While abandoning a live infant is in no way compassionate, the very act of abortion itself isn’t either. We don’t know what type of abortion procedure was used at Rossano Calabro hospital, but it may have been an induction abortion. Dr. Anthony Levatino explains this type of abortion, typically committed beginning at 25 weeks of pregnancy, in the video below:

Babies have survived being born at 22 weeks, and some even younger than that. Extremely premature babies who are born so early have a much higher chance of survival when they are given active care, which raises the question of whether or not this baby may have survived had he been given medical care right away.

Unfortunately, the practice of leaving babies to die after surviving an abortion is all too common.

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