Australia Botched Abortion Case Focuses on Baby’s Condition After Birth

National   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Aug 15, 2006   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Australia Botched Abortion Case Focuses on Baby’s Condition After Birth Email this article
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by Steven Ertelt Editor
August 15, 2006

Sydney, Australia ( — The trial of an Australian abortion practitioner who is accused of killing a premature baby during an abortion using a drug that wasn’t approved at the time is focusing on the condition of the baby. The debate between attorneys on both sides is on whether the baby’s life began.

Abortion practitioner Suman Sood is on trial for manslaughter, using unlawful drugs, and producing a miscarriage.

She had given a woman, who was 23 weeks pregnant, both parts of a two-part abortion drug, which was not approved at the time and isn’t supposed to be given to women so late in pregnancy.

According to the charges against her, Sood also failed to perform a medical examination on the woman and failed to ask her the reasons for the abortion, both required by Australian law.

The woman gave birth to a premature baby boy in the toilet in her bathroom at home and by the time paramedics could rush the infant to the hospital, he was dead.

Defense lawyers for Sood claimed during the latest phase of the trial that the baby was not alive and did not breathe or have a functioning heart.

"Alive is a concept you will have to think carefully about in this case," lawyer Phillip Boulten said, according to a report in The Australian newspaper.

"He was not breathing. You can’t breathe by making gasping efforts every two or three minutes. This child’s heart was not working. It was not pumping blood around the body," Boulten contended. "The baby’s lungs were not working. There was no evidence the brain was acting."

But government prosecutor Mark Tedeschi told the jury that the four-month old unborn child took gasping breathes every two to three minutes. At one stage, the baby had a heartbeat, Tedeschi said, but never moved.

He said the evidence showed the baby had been alive for hours before death.

Sood has pleaded innocent to the charges and denies giving the women the abortion drug.

The court also heard from the paramedic, John Hando, who took the woman to the hospital after she gave birth to the dead baby in her toilet in her bathroom at home. He said Sood gave the woman a drug to "soften her fetus."

Hando said he found the baby face down in the toilet when he came to the woman’s house at 4:30 a.m. He indicated the baby was blue and he did not find a heartbeat or notice any breathing.

He said he took the baby to the hospital, where a nurse cut the umbilical cord and the baby let out a gasp.

"The fetus took a breath. The midwife said words to the effect: ‘It’s alive, quick, get one of the doctors," he said, according to a Sydney Morning Herald report.

Sood was the only abortion practitioner to agree to do the abortion and wanted $1,500 AU for it, according to a Courier Mail news report.

After the first visit, Sood directed her to come back two days later for the abortion drugs. She gave the woman two pills to swallow and inserted another into her vagina.

That night the woman felt painful cramps and went to her bathroom.

"I started pushing and one thing dropped out and then another thing dropped out and after that I was too scared to stand up," she told the court, according to the Courier Mail.

After calling an ambulance, the baby boy was determined to have died.

When the woman didn’t return to Sood’s abortion business, Sood called her and asked if she was coming in for the abortion.

"I said: ‘No, I’ve already had the baby’," the woman said. "She asked me: ‘What’s going to happen with the extra $100 that I owed her for the tablets’. I said: ‘I don’t know’. She hung up."

Sood has performed more than 10,000 abortions.