The Italian Ministry of Health has announced that three separate investigations have been launched after a claim that this weekend, a premature baby survived an abortion at 22 weeks (or about five months). Allegedly, Rev. Antonio Martello, a hospital chaplain at Rossano Calabro Hospital in Calabria, was praying in front of the infant’s body 20 hours after the abortion and witnessed it breathing. Martello then said he alerted doctors, who took the baby to a neonatal unit at a different hospital where it allegedly died on Monday. Now legal authorities are investigating the alleged botched abortion as possible manslaughter.
Hmph. I call bulls**t.From what I’ve read about this story so far, it looks meant to stir up an anti-abortion fuss that could later be used to restrict reproductive rights in Italy even more. Italy is a deeply Catholic country and Rome, of course, is the home of the Vatican. Abortion is legal in Italy for the first three months of pregnancy, and Italian law allows an abortion after 20 weeks if the fetus shows developmental defects or for the health of the mother. But abortion rights — and other progressive-minded health measures — are constantly under attack, anyway.
First of all, I’m no expert in obstetrics, so I’ll leave it to the medical professionals to determine whether a baby could live outside of the womb — let alone for a whole day — at 22 weeks. My general understanding is that preemies need to be cared for in special machines, right? So I have a lot of skepticism on that.
Secondly, it sounds fishy to me that the mother’s reason for getting an abortion — initial reports say the baby had a cleft lip and palate, which is treatable — is now cast with doubt. According to CNN, Italian investigators will look into whether the mother’s health was really at risk in the first place. If we really are discussing a botched surgery here, shouldn’t the mother’s reasons be beside the point?
Lastly, the fact that the alleged incident is being investigated as manslaughter — and not, say, the doctors’ malpractice, since abortion is a surgery — sounds fishy to me. According to the Telegraph newspaper, Italian law requires that doctors must try to preserve life if a fetus has survived an abortion and the very fact that such a law would be on the books is strange. In the United States, anti-abortion activists have attempted, through legislature, to give a fetus rights — a concept called “fetal personhood” — so that performing an abortion would legally be considered the same as manslaughter or murder.