A Vancouver Sun investigation into children who have survived abortions in B.C., has led to Advocates for Human Life demanding that the government take steps to protect these children.

“Somewhere in B.C., “wrote Sun reporter Terry Glavin, “there is a normal healthy child, not yet five years old who survived an abortion attempt in Vancouver some years ago.”

This child survived a prostaglandin (also called prostin) abortion and, as the reporter discovered, “It is not unknown in B.C. for a fetus to survive” this particular procedure.  Prostaglanding is a labour-inducing drug used as an abortion methods when the unborn child has reached a stage of development beyond 16 weeks.  Unlike abortion methods which dismember or poison the unborn child, the drug itself may not injure the child.  If the child is sufficiently developed, and is given immediate medical attention, it has a chance for survival.

There are no records of how many children survive this abortion procedure and medical personnel are reluctant to discuss such incidents.  As B.C. neonatologist Dr. John Smyth explained, “It’s kind of strange that at one point you have a fetus that is considered suitable for disposal and just a very few weeks later, vast amounts of time, energy and resources are expended to keep the baby alive.”

Five resigned with her

Nevertheless, nurses are often the ones who are left with permanent memories of having to leave live aborted babies to die.  Kathryn Larouche told the Sun that when she resigned after a year assisting at prostaglandin abortions, five other nurses left with her.

“We were supposed to turn the other way,” Larouche said of the live-birth incidents.  “We weren’t supposed to do anything.  There were a couple of people…They told us, ‘Don’t do anything.  Leave it alone.  It will die.’”

In 1974, the Sun obtained hospital records of a case in which a child survived for 24 hours following an abortion.  “In the controversy that ensued,” Glavin writes, “several other cases came to light, including a 1970 case…in which an abortion produced a live infant who was left to die in a pan.

“Another well-known incident was the 1979 Baby Grieve case, in which a baby was born during an abortion performed on a mentally retarded inmate of the Glendale Institution in Victoria.”

“The child lived for 10 hours.  The birth and death were registered with the department of vital statistics and a coroner’s inquest determined that the Criminal Code had been violated because no recognized therapeutic abortion committee approved the abortion, but the matter was dropped.”

Advocates for Human Life spokesman, George Carruthers, admits that “these are uncharted waters.  But, children, if they are out there were handicaps, because they are survivors of late abortions should have a remedy, a mechanism to entitle them to compensation for damages.”

The group, which has about 80 B.C. lawyers on its membership list, wants the government to establish a public enquiry to investigate the numbers of children who have been born alive as a result of abortion procedures in B.C., and to immediately enact legislation requiring medical personnel to give ordinary medical assistance to children who survive abortions.

Legal rights of abortion survivors

“The provincial government must give immediate consideration to legislation designed to protect the legal rights of abortion survivors,” the Advocates for Human Life statement says, “Children who survive abortions could be allowed to sue the abortionist who assaulted them.  If the child is given up for adoption, a mechanism could be implemented so that the adopting parents are aware of the reason for the child’s premature birth, of any problems the child many face as a result, and of the identify abortionist who assaulted the child in utero.  If the abortion caused severe damage to the child, the child could have the option of seeking compensation under the common law tort of assault.”

In addition, the association calls on the provincial government to “enact legislation requiring that whenever a possibly viable fetus is threatened with abortion, the fetus be represented by legal counsel during the meeting of the hospital therapeutic abortion committee.  At present, of course, no one speaks on behalf of the intended victim of the abortion.  This is intolerable, especially when the child being killed could live on its own, outside of the mother’s body.”