Babies born alive following abortion is not a new phenomenon in Canada. It has occurred since the 1969 abortion law was passed with an amendment made to the Criminal Code of Canada which allowed abortion under certain conditions. A 1975 brief by Alliance for Life presented to Parliament highlighted this often ignored outcome of abortion:
“For the past few years, there have been several hundred hysterotomies performed annually in Canadian hospitals. A hysterotomy, which is similar to a caesarean section, results in the delivery of a live child. The child is then left deliberately to die, a process that takes anywhere from a few minutes to several hours. Nurses are forbidden to make any attempts to save the lives of these children.”
A Vancouver Sun article from May 1974 reveals that an abortion was done on a woman because she was more than 40 years old and “distraught” at being pregnant at that age. The baby born alive weighed 2 ½ pounds, approximately the size of a six or seven months old fetus. The baby lived for 24 hours.
In another case, an alderman for Surrey, British Columbia said she was informed of a baby aborted at five months gestation at the Burnaby General Hospital. “That baby lived four hours after the abortion,” she said.”
From the same Vancouver Sun report, we also learn that in 1970 “a baby of 24 weeks (six months) was aborted, put in a pan and left to expire there.”
In a 1976 brief, the Victoria Pro-Life Society recounted a horrific situation first reported in a news article from the Daily Colonist, Victoria B.C. dated April 5, 1972: “Dr. C.C. Merry, a pathologist at the Winnipeg General Hospital, found a baby boy whimpering in a garbage bag by the hospital incinerator waiting to be burned. He said those who take part in abortion become “blasé” to such occurrences and would not try to save the life of such a baby because the point of the abortion has been to destroy the life.”
Unborn baby at 20 weeks
In 1985, a child was born in a Vancouver hospital after an abortion done at 26 weeks in Bellingham, Washington three days earlier. The mother came to the Vancouver General Hospital complaining of complications. A doctor scheduled a dilation and curettage for the next day as treatment for an incomplete abortion. However, the mother delivered her child at 3.am. The baby girl was born weighing less than two pounds. As the National Post reported in 1999, “Despite the baby crying and gasping for air, a nurse left the baby to die in a room used to store dead fetuses. The hospital’s supervising nurse came on the scene 40 minutes later and ordered a Code Blue – an emergency resuscitation of the baby”. The baby girl was later adopted after spending time in foster homes. Her name is Ximena Renaerts. Her adoptive mother sued the Vancouver General and obtained an out-of-court settlement to help provide for Ximena as she had cerebral palsy as well as an intellectual disability and required 24 hour care. The lawyer for Ximena argued according to the National Post that “the hospital was negligent for failing to keep Ximena warm, clear her airway and provide oxygen which caused the baby to suffer brain damage.”
We know that live births after abortion are still happening in Canada because of statistical reports. Late term abortions can be done via labour induction or saline solution. It is difficult to know how often hysterotomy is now employed as a method of abortion since it is not listed as a separate category in abortion statistics. The Canadian Institute for Health Information responsible for the compilation and publication of abortion statistics includes it in the category “other surgical procedures” which includes two other methods as well.
Much secrecy however surrounds what takes place when a child is born alive today after an abortion. Some hospitals say they provide comfort care. What happens in abortion clinics? Regardless of the method, children born alive after abortion should receive the same medical care that a premature infant of the same gestational age would receive.
A Quebec study of infant deaths between 1987 and 2012 published in 2016 in Neonatology found that an increase in prenatal testing had resulted in an increase in late term abortions leading to an increase in babies surviving abortion and dying a few hours later. The authors of the study noting a lack of clinical guidelines to deal with live births after abortion ask “How are such infants cared for? If not resuscitated, is palliative care provided? Are the infants admitted to neonatal units or do they die in the delivery room? Are parents informed if the fetus survives?”
Such questions require answers. Many in the pro-life movement have other questions. Are babies who survive abortions today offered only “comfort care” and intentionally denied care that would help them survive and grow? Is treatment withheld in order to cause their death? Are they simply left to die? It’s worth mentioning that late abortions (after 20 weeks gestation) are also done for social reasons.
As for the 2018 statistics, Jonathan Van Maren reports at The Bridgehead:
“One of Canada’s best pro-life bloggers is Pat Maloney, who writes at Run With Life and has consistently made use of Freedom of Access to Information Requests to uncover shocking and sobering information about Canada’s ugly abortion regime. Her work on the issue of babies born alive in Canada after abortions and left to die, and her research into the 491 babies that survived abortions and subsequently died between 2000 and 2009 triggered a National Post investigation and a call by Members of Parliament for RCMP involvement. ..
Research like Maloney’s is very inconvenient to the progressive narrative of a compassionately pro-choice country:
Live birth abortions continue to happen in Canada.
Here are the latest numbers of late term abortions in Canada from CIHI. There were 910 late-term (20 weeks and greater) stillbirths and 150 born alive abortions. (See below)
20 of these born alive abortions were greater than 25 weeks gestation.
107 of these born alive abortions were between 21 – 24 weeks gestation.
23 of these born alive abortions were 20 weeks gestation.
Note: These are for hospital abortions only and do not include clinics or physicians’ offices. These numbers also do not include late-term abortions done in Quebec.
The supporters of Canada’s abortion regime would like the discussion to be filled with rhetoric and devoid of facts—and they want to keep the babies who perish after being born out of sight, tucked away in medical bio-hazardous waste buckets or in dumpsters with lids shut tight. Maloney has reminded us once again that they were here, briefly, before dying before they could even see or enjoy this country that our politicians will spend the upcoming weeks bragging about. For them, the promise of Canada is a cruel joke.”