You wouldn’t think that a 22 -week-old baby could survive outside its mother’s womb, breathing on its own for several days, but this one did. But the baby boy wasn’t born prematurely, he had actually been aborted. Some people don’t think of a fetus as a sentient being, at least while it’s inside a woman’s body. And some don’t believe the Soul enters the body until the baby is born. But what about in this case, where the baby was aborted and yet survived the procedure? Can one really know does the Soul enter the body at conception or at birth,
and if so, can one truly justify abortion for anything other than the risk to a mother’s life? It’s a tricky moral question that has stumped many ethicists, particularly considering what an actual abortion procedure consists of.
So, I was surprised when I read that this particular abortion took place in a southern city in Italy, considering Italy is the seat of Catholicism, and Catholics are against any form of birth control. But apparently abortion is legal in that country under certain circumstances ,and the mother had her reasons, whether justifiable or not.
The mother, pregnant for the first time, had opted for an abortion after prenatal scans suggested that her baby was disabled.
The 22-week infant died one day later in intensive care at a hospital in the mother’s home town of Rossano in southern Italy.
However, the infant survived the procedure, carried out on Saturday in the Rossano Calabro hospital, and was left by doctors to die.
He was discovered alive the following day – some 20 hours after the operation – by Father Antonio Martello, the hospital chaplain, who had gone to pray beside his body.
He found that the baby, wrapped in a sheet with his umbilical cord still attached, was moving and breathing.
The priest raised the alarm and doctors immediately arranged for the infant to be taken to a specialist neo-natal unit at the neighbouring Cosenza hospital, where he died on Monday morning.
Since the baby actually survived, and Italians consider “…that a baby, once born, is 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.”, according to Eugenia Roccella of the health department, police are therefore planning to investigate all parties concerned. It could turn into a case of ‘infanticide”, if it’s discovered that doctors and staff were negligent.
The law means that doctors have had an obligation to try to preserve the life of the child once he had survived the abortion.
Roccello added that
“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.”
She said that if initial information is correct, “this 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”.
Apparently, this is not the first case of an aborted baby surviving after a failed procedure. Another Italian baby survived for 3 days after being aborted at 22 weeks. Not only is Italy grappling with the abortion laws as they stand, England is as well.
In 2005 a baby boy in Manchester was born alive at 24 weeks after surviving three attempts to abort him. He is now a five-year-old schoolboy.
It does give one pause. Would that aborted Italian baby boy have survived had he been found sooner; and if he was indeed disabled, was he better off not surviving? I know I wouldn’t want to make a decision like that.