Italy Baby Boy Dies When Doctors Do Erroneous Abortion After Bad Test

International   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Mar 12, 2007   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Italy Baby Boy Dies When Doctors Do Erroneous Abortion After Bad Test Email this article
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by Steven Ertelt Editor
March 12
, 2007

Rome, Italy ( — The baby boy who became the victim of an abortion after doctors failed a disability test on him died over the weekend. Physicians advised his mother to have an abortion after they had misdiagnosed a physical deformity but the boy survived the procedure.

Doctors at the teaching hospital Careggi performed two ultrasounds on the boy and his mother and they said he had a defective esophagus. That’s a disorder that surgery could have corrected after birth in some cases.

However, when they went to abort the baby boy, they discovered he was healthy and desperately tried to resuscitate him.

The boy was born health and lived for six days following the failed abortion, which was done at 22 weeks into the pregnancy.

Italy’s abortion law allows abortions up to 24 weeks of pregnancy in certain cases but it also requires doctors to do all they can to save the life of a baby who survives a botched abortion attempt.

Italy’s Health Minister, Livia Tureo, defend the law in an interview with the Corriere della Sera newspaper and said that people who put the abortion law in place 29 years ago could not have predicted that medical technologies would be able to save children born alive at such an early age.

"Neonatal doctors are faced with enormous difficulties, such as how to treat babies who are born prematurely, and where to set the limits for survival," Ms Tureo said.

Hospitals are responding to the case by setting internal policies prohibiting late-term abortions and a Milan hospital has banned abortions beyond 22 weeks.

Meanwhile, a Rome hospital announced an investigation into the director of its abortion center who had apparently been forcing patients there to sign papers prohibiting treating any babies who survived abortions.

The baby weighed 500 grams (less than 18 ounces) at birth but physicians say that he had a brain hemorrhage during the abortion and they doubted he would survive.

According to The Australian newspaper, the boy was transferred to the city’s children’s hospital because Careggi didn’t have room for follow-up care in the intensive care unit.

Hospital officials are defending the doctors saying their physicians advised the mother to have further diagnostic tests but that she opted for the abortion after consulting with a private doctor.

Doctors later said the ultrasound tests did not completely show the baby’s body and that an incomplete diagnostic test with an ultrasound happens in one percent of the cases.

The Catholic Church is outraged by the abortion and the Vatican newspaper L’Osservatore Romano said a human life had been "thrown away in the horrible bureaucracy of a culture that rejects diversity and disability."

It condemned the physician who suggested the abortion as "not only morally but also ethically censurable."