Jewish World Review May 17, 1999 /2 Sivan, 5759
(JWR) ---- (http://www.jewishworldreview.com)
THE WOMAN WAS 22 WEEKS PREGNANT when she sought the assistance of Dr.
Martin Haskell, the originator of the partial-birth abortion procedure, to
rid herself of her already-kicking child.
Haskell performed the first stage of the partial-birth abortion. He
inserted a seaweed-based substance into the woman's cervix and instructed
her to return the following day. In the usual course of events, the seaweed
absorbs the amniotic fluid from the womb and expands, thus slowly dilating
the cervix. The next day, new seaweed is inserted. On the third day, the
abortionist opens the cervix with his fingers, feels around for the baby's
legs and pulls them out of the birth canal. He rotates the fetus' shoulders
so that the baby's face is oriented toward the mother's lower back and then,
using scissors, he punctures the bottom of the baby's skull and suctions the
brain out through a tube.
But in this case, things did not go according to plan. The woman complained
of severe abdominal pain on the first night and, being far from Haskell's
clinic, reported to the emergency room of her local hospital, Bethesda
North, in Cincinnati. As she was being examined (she did not say she was
pregnant), the baby was born -- alive. Pediatricians and neonatologists came
running. The baby girl weighed in at 1 pound. The doctors decided that the
child was very unlikely to survive and instructed that nothing be done.
Connie Boyles, a nurse, and Shelly Lowe, a medical technician, saw the baby
girl gasp for air and were stunned. Lowe, knowing that the nurses were busy
caring for other patients in the emergency room, asked if she could hold the
child she dubbed "Baby Hope" until she died. The request was granted.
Lowe wrapped Baby Hope in a blanket and settled into a rocking chair for
what she imagined would be just a few minutes. She sang to her and stroked
her cheeks. "I wanted her to feel that she was wanted," Lowe explained
later. "She was a perfectly formed newborn, entering the world too soon,
through no choice of her own." The baby sucked on her lower lip, opened and
closed her hands, and moved a bit as Lowe held her. She also did something
else -- she continued to breathe on her own.
Dr. John Willke, a pro-life activist and former obstetrician, says he
doesn't quarrel with the initial determination made by the emergency-room
physicians that Baby Hope was too small and too premature to survive. But,
he says, when she was still alive and breathing room air 30 minutes after
birth, her status should have been reassessed. An excellent neonatal care
unit was a mere helicopter ride away. And she might have been saved.
As it is, nothing was done. After three hours, Baby Hope died in the arms
of the compassionate Shelly Lowe. The state of Ohio issued her a death
certificate. The cause of death was listed as "extreme prematurity secondary
to induced abortion." Would Dr. Haskell have issued her a death certificate
at his shop, or does he simply throw the bodies in the trash?
Very few premature infants survive when born before 23 weeks, though there
have been survivors at 22 weeks. Still, one has to wonder: If a woman who
did want her baby spontaneously aborted in an emergency room, would the
doctors have been so quick to give up on the child? Would they ignore the
signs of unusual vitality this infant showed? (Most premature babies have
trouble breathing without assistance. That this infant was able to breathe
room air was amazing.) Was Baby Hope's value as a human being secondary to
her value to the mother?
If we judge people's humanity by any standard other than that each is a
unique individual with G-d-given rights, we demean every person's dignity. A
child is a child. Would-be adoptive parents wait years and years or go
abroad in search of children to love.
Lowe was asked at a press conference what her position on abortion was. She
said she had been pro-choice but was now pro-life. What changed her mind?
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©1999, Creators Syndicate