Baby Survives Abortion, Left to Die in Italy

Bishop: Life Is a Fact, Not an Arbitrary Law

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ROSSANO, Italy, APRIL 28, 2010 (Zenit.org).- The former president of the Academy for Life is lamenting the death of a baby who survived an abortion but died two days later after being left without care.

Bishop Elio Sgreccia stated on Vatican Radio that care is a duty even if the law does not require it, denouncing the neglect of a 22-week-old baby boy who survived in a hospital in Rossano after his mother attempted to have him aborted.

Prenatal scans had shown two malformations in the boy, in his palate and lip. His mother went to the Nicola Giannattasio hospital on Saturday to procure a so-called therapeutic abortion.

The baby, weighing just under 11 ounces, was deposited by doctors onto a sheet after the procedure, and placed in a container to await his death.

He continued to breathe, however, and an unidentified person noticed movement in the container on Sunday morning.

This person reported the matter to the hospital's chaplain, Father Antonio Martello, who went and found the baby.

The little boy was still alive, with his umbilical cord attached, some 24 hours after the abortion attempt.

The priest alerted the doctors, who sent the baby to a neonatal unit at a nearby hospital, The Telegraph reported. He died there Monday morning.

Tragic

Law enforcement officials are investigating the case to see if this qualifies as abandonment or homicide.

The bishop of that region, Archbishop Santo Marcianó of Rossano-Cariati, lamented the "arbitrary superficiality" of the staff that did not try to save the child, L'Osservatore Romano reported today.

He asserted that this case should "lead civil society to reflect on the tragic character of abortion, in so far as it is the suppression of a human being, and in this case, on the illicit character of the definition 'therapeutic.'"

The prelate stated, "In fact, it is not a 'cure,' but reinforces the eugenic mentality that is spreading, and which not only increases recourse to abortion, but poses serious questions regarding the alleged benefit to the woman's health and on the natural meaning of maternity."

"It also invites us to consider with what ease a person who is seriously malformed and simply undesired is treated inhumanly," he added.

Archbishop Marcianó expressed the hope that this case will spark a serious and fruitful debate and "lead each one to collaborate so that the value of the life of every human person is recognized as the foundation of a civil and just society."

Bishop Sgreccia pointed out the limits of a law that does not provide for artificial respiration and tube feeding for fetuses of 23 or 24 weeks.

He asserted that doctors should look at "fact" rather than the age of the baby, "because if the aborted fetus, in a voluntary or accidental way, is alive -- also if it is at the limit of survival, at the age limit -- the doctor is in the presence of a fetus that, because it is strong or because the dates were not properly calculated, fortunately, is living."

The doctor "is obliged to make it live," the prelate said.

He added that "the law must clarify this." 

Bishop Sgreccia called for "great care and great vigilance" because the underlying fact "is that it is a life that is born and also that is already outside the mother's uterus, which shows that it can live, and must have all the help possible."