By Jonathon Van Maren
It is a matter of fact that sometimes, babies that are being aborted manage to survive and are born alive—and that when this happens, they are often left to die. I have interviewed both survivors of abortion who are part of a miniscule number of people who survived a procedure specifically designed to kill them, as well as medical professionals who tended to the aborted babies as they fought for each breath before expiring—slightly off-schedule, but dead as planned nonetheless. Earlier this week, I reported on the heartbreaking story of an aborted baby who passed away sobbing in his mother’s arms, and in August I noted my friend Pat Maloney’s discovery that in Canada during a five year period, 766 babies were born alive and left to die.
Abortion activists rarely make a peep when stories like this surface, because it draws attention to the inconvenient fact that abortion is the act of killing someone, and that occasionally, when that killing is done incompetently or the procedure is bungled in some way, the baby that is being killed shows up just long enough to remind everyone that abortion is barbaric. When Maloney released her findings on the 766 babies that had died of “live birth abortions,” the news came and went without a ripple. But several years ago, the National Post did take the time to research this topic in response to an earlier investigation Maloney had done that revealed 491 babies being born alive and left to die after abortions. They titled their investigation “Birth of a legal quandary: Live-birth abortions a perilous grey zone in Canada’s criminal code.” Some relevant excerpts:
The MPs [requesting an investigation] are right about the fact that between 2000 and 2009, 491 aborted fetuses indeed exhibited “evidence of life” following their removal from the womb — be it a momentary heartbeat, a sudden gasp or, in rare cases, crying. But, while the statistic may speak to one of the most uncomfortable grey areas of Canadian law, doctors say that it is too much to assume that this represents the killing of otherwise healthy babies that the MPs allege.
Take note here of the language being used: There is no denial that babies are being killed here, only that most of these babies were presumably not “otherwise healthy.”
“It’s not 491 babies left screaming in bedpans, trust me,” said a veteran obstetrician who preferred to remain anonymous.…Even a fetus that has “absolutely no chance of survival” — say, because it is aborted too early in the pregnancy, or because of severe developmental or genetic problems — may be deemed as “live-born” if it exhibits a heartbeat or signs of motion, Dr. Douglas Black, president of the Society of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, said in an interview conducted before the MPs’ letter was released. “Then they are subsequently allowed to pass away, depending on what the circumstances are, sometimes in their mom’s arms,” he said.
In one example, a woman undergoes an abortion at 23 weeks after her fetus is diagnosed with fetal anencephaly, a genetic condition in which the fetus fails to develop a brain. “Fetus was born alive and survived for one hour,” reads the description.
In the vast majority of Canadian abortions, the fetus does not receive any documentation, since it is deemed to be bodily discharge. One of the most standard methods, pioneered by Henry Morgentaler, involves using a small medical vacuum to suction out the contents of the uterus. As it is only conducted during the first trimester, it is performed far too early for the fetus to show any vital signs after separation from its mother.
As the pregnancy progresses beyond the first trimester, the procedure becomes more complicated. After a certain period, the fetus becomes too large to be suctioned out and must be removed by inducing labour and extracting it through the birth canal.
In most of these cases, the fetus emerges with no signs of life. And if it’s more than 20 weeks old, Statistics Canada counts it as a stillbirth. Any younger than that and it remains undocumented as bodily discharge. Where the statistic cited by the MPs comes in — the 491 fetuses — is where a fetus shows any “evidence of life,” no matter how briefly, following separation from the mother. In those cases, reporting standards call for medical personnel to report that a “live birth” has occurred and issue the fetus with a birth and death certificate.
Evidence of life can include “beating of the heart, pulsation of the umbilical cord, or definite movement of voluntary muscles,” explains the official Statistics Canada classification. The subjectiveness of the classification is known to cause bedside arguments among medical staff over whether a live birth certificate is necessary…But live-born fetuses can pose a massive legal headache for hospitals, as a fetus is indeed considered a legal human being “when it has completely proceeded, in a living state, from the body of its mother,” according to the criminal code. In those cases, doctors “have a duty to do the best [they] can for what is now a person in the eyes of the law,” said Dr. Eike-Henner Kluge, former director of ethics and legal affairs for the Canadian Medical Association.
In most of the 491 cases, however, this duty would likely extend only to keeping the fetus comfortable and free of pain for the few minutes until it dies…Nevertheless, given the legal complexities surrounding a live birth, Dr. Kluge questioned why any doctor would allow a fetus to emerge alive from the womb, saying it is likely due to “professional failure.”
Requiring medical staff to examine a fetus for vital signs — even when medical intervention could not possibly ensure its survival — is the bizarre consequence of the fact that, ungoverned by a legal framework for abortions, Canadian fetuses exist in a legal no-man’s-land between birth and death.
Throughout the Post investigation, language is used to hide what is actually taking place. “Fetus” is used to make it seem as if the baby is some creature of another species, which is why the baby is also referred to as an “it.” In reality, of course, we are speaking of an unwanted son or daughter killed by a medical professional—the word “fetus” itself is simply Latin for “young one.” A photo of one of these children would immediately dispel any notion that these practices are sane, civilized, or moral.
Babies who survive the initial abortion attempt and are left to die are the abortion industry’s dirty little secret. They constitute a “complication” to the abortion procedure because they live too long. Their little spasms of life that show us that we have become a cruel society, and challenge us to remember their humanity—and to try and recover our own.
For anyone interested, my book on The Culture War, which analyzes the journey our culture has taken from the way it was to the way it is and examines the Sexual Revolution, hook-up culture, the rise of the porn plague, abortion, commodity culture, euthanasia, and the gay rights movement, is available for sale here.