Police ‘investigation’ fails to allay concerns about ‘genetic termination’ abortions

An “investigation” into eugenic infanticides at a Calgary hospital has failed to exonerate the hospital, and pro-lifers vow to continue searching for the truth.

In April, Alberta Report magazine broke a horrifying story about babies born alive and left to die after “genetic terminations” at Calgary Foothills Hospital. A “genetic termination” is a form of late-term abortion in which babies suspected of having a lethal or serious genetic problem are subjected to early induction of labour, with the hope that they will die before actually being born.

The article said that there were at least 11 cases of survivor babies being left to die and, after public pressure, the police investigated to see whether or not the hospital had committed any crimes.

On May 4, Reform MP Jason Kenney (Calgary Southeast) sent a letter to Calgary Police Services asking that they investigate the “allegations of eugenic infanticide” at Calgary Foothills Hospital. He also wondered whether Section 223(2) of the Criminal Code of Canada was violated. Section 223(2) states that, “a person commits a homicide when he causes the injury to a child before or during his birth as a result of which the child dies after becoming a human being.” Canadian court decisions have established that a child does not enjoy the status of a “person” with full legal rights until he or she has emerged fully from the birth canal.

Alberta Pro-Life, led by Joanne Hatton, also demanded immediate action. The police investigation was completed in late July and it seems to have raised more questions than it answered.

Hatton and Kenney both told The Interim there were serious problems with the investigation. Hatton said, “Usually in an investigation you investigate. The police didn’t question witnesses or even try to identify them.”

Other problems with the investigation, cited by both Hatton and Kenney, include a dependence upon written records and a failure to investigate whether they were tampered with; only one of 11 alleged infanticide cases was looked into; the police seemed to trust the Calgary Regional Hospital Association (CRHA) despite their evasions and refusal to cooperate.

Kenney said that such a seriously flawed investigation undermines confidence in both the hospital and the police. He said that if the allegations in the Alberta Report article are true, there was indeed a homicide under Section 223(2) of the Criminal Code. He wants another “complete investigation” of all the cases.

The CRHA admits that Foothills performed more than 50 genetic terminations last year, although they won’t divulge how many babies were born alive. Kenney says each case should be looked into to determine if the baby was born alive and if so, whether proper care was provided.

Hatton also is calling for a new investigation, but said the police cannot be trusted to do the job. Hatton said “the police decided this was about abortion and since abortion is legal they only pretended to do something about it.”

The hospital was surely hoping to be exonerated but Hatton said the investigation just leads to more questions. She said that it is in the hospital’s best interest to get to the bottom of this issue and restore confidence in it as an institution. An independent investigation would do that.

Kenney said “if there is not a compelling response” to his July 30 letter to Calgary police chief Christine Silverberg asking for clarification on a number of questions regarding the investigation, he “will look at ways to get a full, proper investigation.” That might include asking the Alberta attorney-general or health minister to conduct a province-wide independent probe.

Neither the Health Ministry nor the Attorney-General’s office returned The Interim’s calls.

Link Byfield, publisher of Alberta Report, also wants to see an independent investigation. He suggests that such an investigation be composed of people with a legal or forensic background who do not have a stake in the CRHA, including people of various views on abortion. They could examine the legal and medical issues and determine whether or not proper palliative care was provided to the babies who were accidently born alive.

Byfield doesn’t think the police adequately examined that issue. But he doesn’t blame the two investigating detectives. “They probably felt the tone from higher up.” Byfield said “It became apparent very soon that the scope of the inquiry was very limited.”

But critics agree the underlying issue is not that there was an improper investigation or that the police turned a blind eye to allegations of infanticide. The most important issue here was the possibility of infanticides.

As Kenney told The Interim, “This is an indication of the dumbing down of our collective conscience as we allow the culture of death to creep into new areas.”