Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Astonishing Responses to a Live Birth

Live Action News has reported a situation in which a Family Planning Associates clinic in Arizona actually called 911 for help after a baby was born alive during an abortion. Live Action provides a link to local news coverage of the incident.

The news report bends over backwards to balance between abortion-rights and pro-life views on the incident, alternatively referring to the baby as a baby and as a fetus. The coverage also fairly represents what both sides had to say about the incident.

In the 911 calls, a clinic worker told the dispatcher a fetus that was removed had vital signs.
"There was a termination that was performed," the worker said. "There is a fetus that is breathing right now, so we need someone to do services."
The 911 operator asks if the fetus has been harmed in any way.
The worker answered no, and said the fetus needed further help other than what the clinic could provide.
"The fetus is breathing so we need care for it now," said the caller. "We can't provide that care except for oxygen and we're trying to keep the fetus stable until someone arrives."
There was an important omission or area of confusion in the report, which said, "According to documents, the doctor told police that she checked several times if the fetus had a heartbeat but didn't find one." The visual during that portion of the report is of the police report, the text of which indicates that the practitioner was listening for a heartbeat before the baby was born.

As the baby was being weighed, the police report indicates, a worker said, "Oh my god, this fetus is moving!"

According to reports, the baby died about five minutes after arrival at the hospital. The reports do not indicate whether the child was a boy or a girl. There is also no indication if the original estimate of the baby's age was accurate. This site addresses errors in estimating gestational age: "The accuracy of ultrasound in predicting gestational age gets worse as the pregnancy advances. By 20 weeks, ultrasound is accurate only to within plus or minus two weeks, and by the third trimester, its accuracy falls to plus or minus 3 weeks." 

According to this article, preemie survival rates on average are:
  • 22 weeks: 0-10%
  • 23 weeks: 10-35%
  • 24 weeks: 40-70%
  • 25 weeks: 50-80%
  • 26 weeks: 80-90%
  • 27 weeks: greater than 90%
Thus, even if the ultrasound was being read with due skill, the baby might well have been a 23-week baby with up to 35% chance of survival. In calling an ambulance, and evidently providing oxygen to the baby, the clinic was doing the right thing.

Of course, the pro-life response to such a happening is to stop aborting these babies in the first place. However, it seems common sense that if a facility is aborting potentially viable babies, they have a responsibility to be prepared for live births. At minimum, there should be means of keeping the baby safe and warm while administering oxygen, and a written emergency plan, reviewed as often as other emergency plans, for providing necessary support while awaiting an ambulance.

Overall, I find the events in Arizona staggering in that:
  1. The clinic actually responded appropriately.
  2. The news outlet even bothered to cover the incident.

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