By Pat Hansard
The Interim

In June, the Alberta College of Physicians and Surgeons approved faticide, the deliberate killing of 20-week and older fetuses prior to their mother’s abortions. The procedure involves puncturing the heart of the unborn child with a surgical needle full of potassium chloride. Death occurs within seconds, but not without pain, as no anesthesia is used.

The college says the purpose is to reduce suffering, but the question is, whose suffering? Killing the child prior to its abortion or allowing him or her to die without aid following the abortion will still result in a dead child. Suffering occurs in both instances. Indications are that the reduction of suffering is intended for others involved.

An accidental live birth of a child intended for abortion, known in the industry as “the dreaded complication,” causes great distress among medical personnel. Perhaps this new procedure will reduce their suffering. Four nurses from Calgary Foothills Hospital leaked stories of babies who survived their mother’s abortions to The Report Newsmagazine in April 1999. These nurses told of rocking infants as old as 35 weeks gestation until they gasped their last breaths.

Dr. Larry Ohlhauser, college registrar, has indicated that in those cases where the child has fatal defects, it is better for the safety of the mother to have the fetus die in the womb, than to deliver a live infant only to have it die later. However, pro-life advocates argue that the tests used to detect potentially fatal anomalies are flawed and often indicate problems that are not evident once children are born.