A New Zealand mother seeking an abortion learned that her unborn baby was still alive months after being told that her baby did not have a heartbeat, a health commission investigation revealed this week.
The woman, who is referred to only as Ms. A in reports, later underwent a second abortion that killed her unborn child, Stuff New Zealand reports.
According to the investigation report, Taranaki Base Hospital in New Zealand made an “inexplicable mess” in the woman’s case.
Ms. A went to the hospital for an ultrasound prior to her abortion in 2015; however, the ultrasound sonographer did not detect her unborn baby’s heartbeat, according to the report. A separate scan that measured the woman’s blood flow indicated that her unborn baby was still alive, but the medical staff did not follow up, the investigation found.
Here’s more from the report:
Dr B read the ultrasound scans and documented there was “no obvious fetal heartbeat seen” and “no evidence of viability”.
Ms A was told the results of her scan the following day.
Eight days later, she met with a doctor to discuss miscarriage options. She was under the impression she would undergo surgery to remove the fetus she had miscarried.
However the doctor recommended a non-surgical option and Ms A chose tablets.
She became sick and bled heavily for at least a week.
Eight weeks later, concerned that her menstrual cycle had not resumed, she took a pregnancy test, which came back positive.
Tests put the gestation age at 17 weeks and 3 days, “plus or minus 10 days”. Surgical terminations are only available until 20 weeks’ gestation.
At the time of Ms. A’s ultrasound, the sonographer told the investigative board that she was new to the hospital and had received only a brief training. The sonographer also said she had a very long list of patients to see on the day she saw Ms. A, her second day of work, and she did not receive any breaks.
It also was the first day of work for Dr. B, the radiologist who saw Ms. A. According to the report, Dr. B said his experience involving prenatal scans was limited to first trimester emergency cases, and the hospital knew that.
The hospital where Ms. A had the ultrasound now is under new ownership, according to the report. To protect from future mistakes, the new owners set up a protocol requiring two trans-vaginal scans to confirm if the baby was miscarried, according to the report. It also apologized to Ms. A for the errors.
Rather than choose life for her unborn baby, Ms. A had a surgical abortion when she was about 17 weeks pregnant, the report states. More than 11 weeks had passed since she had been told that her unborn baby did not have a heartbeat.
At 17 weeks, an unborn baby already looks and acts a lot like a born baby. During this stage of development, the unborn baby’s teeth are developing, and they can respond to touch. Their taste buds, finger prints and fingernails already have formed. Many babies at this stage can be seen yawning or sucking their thumbs.