UN's Rapporteur on Torture Called to Investigate Cases of Children Born Alive After Late Abortions

Appeal Notes Cases in Canada, UK

Strasbourg, France, (Zenit.org) | 846 hits

In an “urgent appeal”, the European Centre for Law and Justice has called the UN Special Rapporteur on Torture to investigate on children born alive after late abortion, and on methods of late abortion, especially in the United-Kingdom and Canada: in Canada, between 2000 and 2011, 622 babies born alive after an abortion were left to die, and 66 in the United Kingdom in 2005. Some cruel methods of late abortion constitute torture, especially the one called dilatation and evacuation: the foetus, still alive, is dismembered to be pulled out of the womb in pieces.

The ECLJ has communicated to the UN Special Rapporteur on Torture cases of torture due to late abortion. Appointed by the United Nations Commission on Human Rights, the Special Rapporteur on Torture can examine questions relevant to torture in all countries. He transmits urgent appeals to States, undertakes fact-finding country visits and submits annual reports to the Human Rights Council and the General Assembly.

Scientific evidence proves that foetuses and premature babies can feel pain at least as much as adults. Foetuses are responsive to touch at 8 weeks and have the physical structure to experience pain at 20 weeks.

As early as 16 weeks, an infant can survive for a while out of the womb, and it is considered viable at 22 weeks. However, in Canada, there is no legal limit for abortion, even if medical rules recommend limiting abortion on demand to 22 weeks. In the UK, abortion is legal until 24 weeks, and until the end of pregnancy in case of foetal anomaly.

British Department of Health figures show that 2860 abortions at 20 weeks or more were carried out in England and Wales in 2012. In 2012, 160 abortions were done after 24 weeks, including 38 between 28 and 31 weeks, and 28 after 32 weeks. Sixty-six babies were thus aborted after 28 weeks, which was the viability limit defined by the WHO until 1975: an infant born at that gestational age can survive without medical help.

In Canada in 2011, there were 823 abortions between 17 and 20 weeks, 549 after 21 weeks[1]. These figures are severely underestimated since they do not include Quebec (more than 26,000 abortions a year, including over 1500 after 14 weeks) nor clinics, though more than half abortions are done in clinics.

Late abortion being difficult to perform, it happens that babies are born alive after an abortion. In 2007, a study published in the British Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology[2] concluded that about 1 in 30 abortions after 16 weeks’ gestation result in a born-alive infant. At 23 weeks’ gestation, the number reached 9.7%. In that case, they are left to die without any care, or killed. TheGuidance from the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists[3]recommends killing these babies by lethal injection. When they are not killed, they are not fed, not even covered, no care is given them even if they were wounded by the attempted abortion. They are left to suffer and die alone. According to official statistics, between 2000 and 2011 in Canada, 622 babies were born alive and left to die after an abortion. They were 66 in 2005 in the United Kingdom, where no statistics were published on this issue the following years.

Concerning Syria, the Special Rapporteur recently stressed that deprival of food, water, shelter and medical care constitutes a crime against humanity. Depriving newborn babies of elementary care, whatever the conditions of their birth, constitutes torture and should also be considered a crime against humanity.

Some methods of abortion, especially dilatation and evacuation, should be banned because of the inhumane suffering they cause for the foetus. According to the statistics of the Canadian Institute for Health Information, 1226 abortions in 2010 and 1341 in 2011 used the method of dilatation and evacuation in Canadian hospitals (except Quebec and not including clinics)[4], while among the 160 late abortions in England and Wales in 2012, 43% were by dilatation and evacuation.

In the case of dilatation and evacuation, the cervix is dilated, then the “content of the uterus” is pulled out with a clamp. In the end, the pieces are examined to make sure everything has been removed. This means that the body is gathered like a puzzle, because in many cases it has been dismembered during the operation. If there was no feticide injection first, or if the injection did not cause death[5], the foetus was alive while its members were being torn off one after the other. This frightfully cruel method is inhumane and constitutes torture.

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[1] http://www.cihi.ca/cihi-ext-portal/pdf/internet/TA_11_ALLDATATABLES20130221_FR

[2] http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.1471-0528.2007.01279.x/abstract

[3] http://www.dailymail.co.uk/health/article-512129/66-babies-year-left-die-NHS-abortions-wrong.html and http://www.lifesitenews.com/news/66-british-babies-survived-abortion-all-were-left-to-die-without-medical-ai

[4] 2010: http://www.cihi.ca/cihi-ext-portal/pdf/internet/TA_10_ALLDATATABLES20120417_FR; 2011:http://www.cihi.ca/cihi-ext-portal/pdf/internet/TA_11_ALLDATATABLES20130221_FR

[5] According to a study, the injection effectively induced fetal death in 87% of women. This means that 13 % survived. Nucatola D, Roth N, Gatter M. A randomized pilot study on the effectiveness and side-effect profiles of two doses of digoxin as fetocide when administered intraamniotically or intrafetally prior to second-trimester surgical abortion.Contraception. 2010 Jan;81(1):67-74. doi: 10.1016/j.contraception.2009.08.014. Epub . Available athttp://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20004276

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The European Centre for Law and Justice is an international, Non-Governmental Organization dedicated to the promotion and protection of human rights in Europe and worldwide. The ECLJ holds special Consultative Status before the United Nations/ECOSOC since 2007.

The ECLJ engages legal, legislative, and cultural issues by implementing an effective strategy of advocacy, education, and litigation. The ECLJ advocates in particular the protection of religious freedoms and the dignity of the person with the European Court of Human Rights and the other mechanisms afforded by the United Nations, the Council of Europe, the European Parliament, the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), and others.

The ECLJ bases its action on “the spiritual and moral values which are the common heritage of European peoples and the true source of individual freedom, political liberty and the rule of law, principles which form the basis of all genuine democracy” (Preamble of the Statute of the Council of Europe).