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For C-SPAN viewers


I appeared on Washington Journal this morning with blogger Jane Hamsher. When the subject of abortion arose I suggested that Barack Obama and not Sarah Palin was the extremist due to his opposition to the Born Alive Infants Protection Act (or its equivalent in Illinois). Hamsher denied that babies are ever born alive as a consequence of botched abortions. I invited viewers to write to me for evidence that it has happened. Below is a section of the Judiciary committee report on the Born Alive Infants Protection Act of 2001. It details what happened to Baby Hope and others.

1st Session 107–186
AUGUST 2, 2001.—Committed to the Committee of the Whole House on the State
of the Union and ordered to be printed
Mr. SENSENBRENNER, from the Committee on the Judiciary,
Submitted the following
together with
[To accompany H.R. 2175]
[Including cost estimate of the Congressional Budget Office]

A. ‘‘Live-Birth’’ Abortions
The legal and moral confusion that flows from these pernicious
ideas is well illustrated by disturbing events that are alleged to
have occurred at Christ Hospital in Oak Lawn, Illinois. Two nurses
from the hospital’s delivery ward, Jill Stanek and Allison Baker
(who is no longer employed by the hospital), testified before the
Subcommittee on the Constitution that physicians at Christ Hos-
pital have performed numerous ‘‘induced labor’’ or ‘‘live-birth’’ abor-
tions, a procedure in which physicians use drugs to induce pre-
mature labor and deliver unborn children, many of whom are some-
times still alive, and then simply allow those who are born alive
to die.27
According to medical experts, this procedure is appropriately
used only in situations in which an unborn child has a fatal de-
formity, such as anencephaly or lack of a brain, and infants with
such conditions who are born alive are given comfort care (includ-
ing warmth and nutrition) until they die, which, because of the
fatal deformity, is typically within a day or two of birth. According
to the testimony of Mrs. Stanek and Mrs. Baker, however, physi-
cians at Christ Hospital have used the procedure to abort healthy
infants and infants with non-fatal deformities such as spina bifida
and Down Syndrome.28Many of these babies have lived for hours
after birth, with no efforts made to determine if any of them could
have survived with appropriate medical assistance.29 The nurses
have also witnessed hospital staff taking many of these live-born
babies into a ‘‘soiled utility closet’’ where the babies would remain
until death.30Comfort care, the nurses say, was only provided spo-
Mrs. Stanek, who testified in front of the Subcommittee on the
Constitution during its hearing on H.R. 4292 and H.R. 2175, testi-
fied regarding numerous live-birth abortions that she alleges have
occurred at Christ Hospital. The first she described as follows:
One night, a nursing co-worker was taking an aborted
Down’s Syndrome baby who was born alive to our Soiled
Utility Room because his parents did not want to hold
him, and she did not have time to hold him. I could not
bear the thought of this suffering child dying alone in a
Soiled Utility Room, so I cradled and rocked him for the
45 minutes that he lived. He was 21 to 22 weeks old,
weighed about 1⁄2pound, and was about 10 inches long. He
was too weak to move very much, expending any energy
he had trying to breathe. Toward the end he was so quiet
that I couldn’t tell if he was still alive unless I held him
up to the light to see if his heart was still beating through
his chest wall. After he was pronounced dead, we folded
his little arms across his chest, wrapped him in a tiny
shroud, and carried him to the hospital morgue where all
of our dead patients are taken.32
Mrs. Stanek testified about another aborted baby who was
thought to have had spina bifida, but was delivered with an intact
spine.33 On another occasion, an aborted baby ‘‘was left to die on
the counter of the Soiled Utility Room wrapped in a disposable
towel. This baby was accidentally thrown in the garbage, and when
they later were going through the trash to find the baby, the baby
fell out of the towel and on to the floor.’’34Mrs. Stanek further tes-
tified regarding a live-birth abortion that was performed on a
healthy infant at more than 23 weeks gestation, a stage of develop-
ment at which premature infants have an almost 40% chance of
survival.35According to Mrs. Stanek,
[t]he baby was born alive. If the mother had wanted every-
thing done for her baby, there would have been a
neonatologist, pediatric resident, neonatal nurse, and res-
piratory therapist present for the delivery, and the baby
would have been taken to our Neonatal Intensive Care
Unit for specialized care. Instead, the only personnel
present for this delivery were an obstetrical resident and
my co-worker. After delivery the baby, who showed early
signs of thriving, was merely wrapped in a blanket and
kept in the Labor & Delivery Department until she died
21⁄2hours later.36
Mrs. Baker testified regarding three live-birth abortions she wit-
nessed at Christ Hospital. According to Mrs. Baker, she was in-
formed about the live-birth abortions, described by the hospital as
‘‘therapeutic abortions,’’ when she began working in the high risk
labor and delivery unit at Christ Hospital in August 1998. She de-
scribed her first encounter with this procedure as follows:
The first occurred on a day shift. I happened to walk into
a ‘‘soiled utility room’’ and saw, lying on the metal counter,
a fetus, naked, exposed and breathing, moving its arms
and legs. The fetus was visibly alive, and was gasping for
breath. I left to find the nurse who was caring for the pa-
tient and this fetus. When I asked her about the fetus, she
said that she was so busy with the mother that she didn’t
have time to wrap and place the fetus in a warmer, and
she asked if I would do that for her. Later I found out that
the fetus was 22 weeks old, and had undergone a thera-
peutic abortion because it had been diagnosed with Down’s
Syndrome. I did wrap the fetus and place him in a warmer
and for 21⁄2hours he maintained a heartbeat, and then fi-
nally expired.37
The second induced-labor abortion Mrs. Baker witnessed in-
volved a 20 week-old fetus with spina bifida who was born alive.
According to Mrs. Baker,
[d]uring the time the fetus was alive, the patient kept ask-
ing me when the fetus would die. For an hour and 45 min-
utes the fetus maintained a heartbeat. The parents were
frustrated, and obviously not prepared for this long period
of time. Since I was the nurse of both the mother and the
fetus, I held the fetus in my arms until it finally expired.38
The third incident witnessed by Mrs. Baker involved a 16 week-
old fetus with Down’s Syndrome. ‘‘Again,’’ Mrs. Baker testified, ‘‘I
walked into the soiled utility room and the fetus was fully exposed,
lying on the baby scale.’’39 Mrs. Baker then found the nurse who
was caring for the mother and the baby and offered her assistance.
‘‘When I went back into the soiled utility room,’’ Mrs. Baker said,
‘‘the fetus was moving its arms and legs. I then listened for a
heartbeat, and found that the fetus was still alive. I wrapped the
fetus and in 45 minutes the fetus finally expired.’’40
When allegations such as these were first made against Christ
Hospital, the hospital claimed that this procedure was only used
‘‘when doctors determine the fetus has serious problems, such as
lack of a brain, that would prevent long-term survival.’’41 Later,
however, the hospital changed its position, announcing that al-
though it had performed abortions on infants with non-fatal birth
defects, it was changing its policy and would henceforth use the
procedure to abort only fatally-deformed infants.42
B. Confusion Regarding the Status of Abortion Survivors
The confusion regarding the status of abortion survivors is re-
flected in events that happened two years ago in Cincinnati, Ohio.
A young woman learned she was pregnant and sought the assist-
ance at the clinic of the abortionist Dr. Martin Haskell, inventor
of one variation of the partial-birth abortion procedure.43Dr. Has-
kell performed the first step of the partial-birth abortion proce-
dure—dilating the woman’s cervix—and she was to return the next
day. The next morning the woman began experiencing severe ab-
dominal pains and reported to the emergency room of Bethesda
North Medical Center in Cincinnati. While she was being exam-
ined, the young woman gave birth to a baby girl.44 The attending
physician placed the baby in a specimen dish—like any other sub-
stance that is removed from the body—to be taken to the lab by
a medical technician. When the technician, Shelly Lowe, saw the
baby girl in the dish she was stunned when she saw the girl gasp-
ing for air. ‘‘I don’t think I can do that,’’ Ms. Lowe reportedly said.
‘‘This baby is alive.’’45
After doctors concluded that the baby was too premature to sur-
vive (by some estimates she was born at 22 weeks, although some
members of the hospital staff believed she was older), Ms. Lowe
held the baby, whom she named ‘‘Baby Hope,’’ until the child died,
wrapping her in a blanket and singing to her as she stroked her
cheeks. Ms. Lowe said: ‘‘I wanted her to feel that she was wanted.
. . . She was a perfectly formed newborn, entering the world too
soon through no choice of her own.’’46 Surprisingly, Baby Hope
lived for 3 hours, without the benefit of an incubator or other in-
tensive care, and breathing room air, but her condition was not re-
assessed by the physicians.47 And although it is impossible to de-
termine at this point whether a reassessment would have made
any difference in Baby Hope’s ultimate survival, the lack of any
uch reassessment, coupled with the attending physician’s initial
placement of then-breathing Baby Hope in a specimen dish, at
least raises serious questions as to whether a similarly-situated in-
fant who was wanted by her mother would have received the same
Confusion regarding the legal status of abortion survivors is not
a problem only in the United States. Evidence of this confusion can
be further illustrated by events that occurred in Professor Peter
Singer’s native country of Australia. On April 10, 2000, in Sydney,
Australia, a Coroners Court heard testimony regarding a baby who
survived an abortion in 1998 and lived for 80 minutes while hos-
pital staff waited for the baby to die.48 When the midwife nurse
called the abortion doctor (who was not present) to inform him that
the baby had survived, he responded, ‘‘So?’’49 The nurse then did
what she could to make the baby comfortable, covering her with a
blanket to keep her warm until her breathing and heartbeat slowed
and she died.50
The coroner who investigated this incident condemned the ac-
tions of the abortion doctor, stating that ‘‘‘[t]he [baby] having been
born alive deserved all the dignity, respect and value that our soci-
ety places on human life. . . . The fact that her birth was unex-
pected and not the desired outcome of the [abortion] should not re-
sult in her and babies like her being perceived as anything less
than a complete human being.’’’51Noting that the old, infirm, sick
and terminally ill are all entitled to proper medical and palliative
care and attention, the coroner stated that ‘‘newly-born unwanted
and premature babies should have the same rights. The fact that
[the baby’s] death was inevitable should not affect her entitlement
to such care and attention.’’52
A similar incident occurred in Germany in 1998.53In that case,
an infant survived an abortion attempt at 25 weeks gestation. The
doctors who attempted to abort the baby left it wrapped in a blan-
ket for 10 hours ‘‘under observation’’ but without any medical as-
sistance. The doctors then consulted with the parents and decided
to provide the baby medical assistance. The infant survived, but
was severely damaged and has had several operations. The Ger-
man government brought charges against the physicians.