“THE DAILY MAIL” (UK newspaper): Tuesday June 29, 2004 OUR BABY DAUGHTER LIVED THREE HOURS AFTER THE ABORTION
“A couple whose baby was born alive after an abortion at 21 weeks have told of their anguish as Health Service staff stood by and let her die.
The little girl, who had Down’s Syndrome, survived for three hours after being delivered into a cardboard bowl.
Her parents, who claim they were ‘coerced’ into a termination in the first place, claim nurses at Macclesfield District General Hospital were reluctant to offer any medical help.
They say that they were told later that their baby had not ‘really’ been alive, even though she was clearly breathing.
The disturbing case follows a warning from doctors and midwives that babies are being born alive after botched abortions then denied medical care and left to die.
The parents, who do not wish to be named, already have a toddler, a teenager and a 12-year-old with learning disabilities and felt unable to cope with another special needs child.
Consultants and nurses did not suggest the possibility of continuing the pregnancy and having the Down’s child adopted, it is alleged.
The 41-year-old mother, who is considering legal action, said last night:
“I don’t want any other woman to go through the same nightmare.”
“If I had been given any idea that the baby would be born alive after an abortion I would never have gone through with it. They coerced me.
“I have seen how society treats children with disabilities and it frightened me to bring another special needs child into the world, but somehow we would have coped with it.”
Two days before the abortion in March, the woman was given tablets which she was told would cut off the blood supply to the placenta and kill the baby in the womb.
“We were sent home and to our distress the baby was still clearly moving. When we went back to hospital on the Monday we were told the tablets didn’t kill the baby but they were to get the baby ready for labour.
“We said if there was an outside chance of this baby being born alive we would not go through with it, but they assured us the baby would die during labour.”
The baby was born after a two-and-a-half-hour labour induced by drugs.
The mother said:
“She was perfectly formed and tiny. I wanted to hold her and was handed the baby in a cardboard dish. My partner got her out and she gasped for breath. Her heart was visibly beating.
“She felt really cold and so he put her inside his shirt to keep her warm. All the time she was alive there were about ten different staff who came in and looked but they never said a word. The offered no assistance.”
After an hour and a half, she begged for an incubator, which was wheeled in and not switched on. The baby eventually died in her aunt’s arms.
The day after her death, a nurse told the mother: “The baby was not really alive. She was just having reactions.” The 46-year-old father, a trading analyst for a betting firm, said he was “devastated” by the tragedy.
“Our lives have been changed for ever” he said. “Emotions ran high, our relationship suffered. We have stumbled through our lives since that day.”
Pro-life campaigners said the case was a tragedy for the entire family.
Nuala Scarisbrick, of LIFE, said:
“They are the victims, not just the baby. The callousness of putting a baby in a sick bowl and the mother having to warm the baby is appalling.”
East Cheshire NHS Trust, which runs the Macclesfield hospital, said guidance from the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists for late abortions had been followed.
A spokesman added:
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“It is regrettable that the patient’s experience was so distressing and we would wish to reiterate our sympathies.”