Appearing at the Senate Committee hearing today on the issue of babies who survive abortions being left to die, Michelle Pearse, ACL’s new CEO, called for the Human Rights (Children Born Alive Protection) Bill 2022 to be strengthened by including provisions for a child protection advocate to be provided to any baby showing signs of life.
This ground-breaking recommendation would include the advocate in each state and territory having immediate authority to act in the child’s best interests.
Mrs Pearse informed the Senate Committee of a Northern Territory Coroner’s report into the death of baby Jessica Jane. Ms Pearse said,
“Following being aborted, Jessica Jane was born alive and placed on a metal kidney dish in an empty room for approximately 80 minutes until she died. According to Nurse Williams who delivered her, Jessica Jane, although premature, was apparently healthy, had no apparent abnormalities and her vital signs were relatively good. She weighed 515 grams.
“When the doctor who authorised the abortion was informed of the live birth and that the baby’s Agpar scores were strong, his only response was to say ‘So?’. The nurse checked on her every 10-15 minutes and observed crying and movement. But the baby was left to die where she lay. The Coroner stated that ‘after about an hour her heartbeat and breathing slowed until death.’
“Cases such as this are not rare. From 2010 to 2020 in Victoria and Queensland alone, over 700 babies were born alive and subsequently died following abortions. A baby every week. These babies are refused life-sustaining care as would be the case for wanted babies born at the same gestation.
“This isn’t a debate about abortion. This is a debate about whether or not the baby who is still alive following a medical procedure on its biological mother carries the same rights as other prematurely delivered babies.
“It is the Senate’s decision whether to give that baby a chance to live – or at least a chance to die peacefully with good palliative care – if there is no chance the baby will survive.”
Ms Pearse concluded by posing this question to the Senate Committee, “Is it your decision to accept the withholding of medical care, so the intent of the abortion is finalised as quickly as possible, despite the living and breathing baby?”