An article in the Sunday Times this past Sunday, highlighted a crucial problem regarding late-term abortions and their deep moral consequences. The question regards babies surviving the attempts to abort them past the 18th week.
A British government agency has launched an inquiry into doctors’ reports that up to 50 babies a year are born alive after botched National Health Service abortions.
The number of terminations carried out in the 18th week of pregnancy or later has risen from 5,166 in 1994 to 7,432 last year
Abortion on demand is allowed in Britain up to 24 weeks — more than halfway through a normal pregnancy and the highest legal limit for such terminations in Europe. France and Germany permit “social” abortions only up to the 10th and 12th weeks respectively.
The Department of Health was alerted three months ago to the issue of babies surviving failed terminations..
“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.
Paul Clarke, a neonatal intensive care specialist in Norwich, has treated a boy born at 24 weeks after three failed abortion attempts. The mother decided to keep the child, who is now two years old but is suffering what doctors call “significant ongoing medical problems”.
“The survival of this child was not recorded in any official statistics,” Clarke said. “There is nothing at the moment to force abortion practitioners to account for their failures.”
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. 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.