Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Yes, they do perform abortions at 36 weeks

When I talk about late-term abortions in Canada, people are often sceptical. They say: "Nah, they don't do late-term abortions in Canada, it's illegal".

Or they say: "sure, they might do late-term abortions, but they're only done at 21-22 weeks."

Or they say "they don't them when the baby is on the verge of birth. No sane doctor would do that."

Well, guess what? I found information that completely blows those myths out of the water.

I stumbled on a report on perinatal mortality in 1998, published by the Quebec College of Physicians (Collège des Médecins du Québec).

I have learned in my recent research on late-term abortions (which are called "terminations") that the deaths produced by late-term abortions are often counted as stillbirths or perinatal deaths, depending on the jurisdiction. I have to sort that out, but I'm working on it.

What do I find, but a chart listing late-term abortions and the gestational ages of the babies who died this way (p. 16 on Adobe Acrobat). Oddly enough, it also mentions whether their were babies born alive in that group, and whether or not there was a malformation or choromosomal defect.

I've reproduced the chart here:

Gestational Age (Weeks) Abortions with malformation/ chromosomal defect Abortions with NO malformation/ chromosomal defect
18 0 1
19 1** 0
20 3 2
21 5 3**
22 8*** 6***
23 7** 1
24 5** 2
25 2** 0
26 5**** 0
27 1 1
28 2 0
31 2** 0
32 0 1
33 2 0
36 2 0
Unknown * 0 2


* The gestation age was unknown, but the baby weighed more than 500g
** 1 live birth in the group
*** 2 live births in the group
**** 3 live births in the group

The authors of the reports state (translation following quote)

Après avoir étudié ces dossiers, les membres du CEMMP pensent qu’une réflexion éthique s’impose, compte tenu de la disparité dans l’approche, de l’absence ou de l’insuffisance de la documentation à l’appui d’une telle intervention
dans plusieurs dossiers, et plus particulièrement de la naissance vivante de foetus pesant plus de 500 g (13 cas), entre autres éléments. Il y aurait lieu également de s’interroger sur les causes de ces interruptions tardives ; outre les délais liés à l’amniocentèse réalisée au 2e trimestre, les IVG à la demande pour des grossesses de plus de 22 semaines (11 cas) ou avec un produit de conception pesant 500 g et plus soulèvent plusieurs interrogations.


After having studied these files, the members of the CEMMP [Le comité d'énquête sur la mortalité et la mobidité périnatale, i.e. the authors of the study] believe that there should be an ethical examination of the situation, given the disparity of approaches, and the absence or paucity of documentation that justify these interventions, in many cases; more particularly in the case of the birth of a living fetus weighing more than 500 g (13 cases). We must also question ourselves on the causes of these late-term abortions. The delays related to 2nd trimester amniocentesis, the request for abortions past 22 weeks (11 cases) or with products of conception past 500g raises many questions.

These authors are not comfortable with the status quo.

Now, you might be telling me that this was almot ten years ago, but nothing leads me to believe that the situation has drastically changed. In light of Quebec's recruitment of late-term abortionists in 2004, I would surmise there could be more late-term abortions, not less.

And this is occurring in ONE province.

The issues I see surrounding late-term abortion is that the coding and the medical definitions are not uniform, plus, as the authors say, and that there is often a lack of documentation about these issues, as if medical personnel would like to sweep this under the carpet. This is not only a matter of protecting unborn lives from the threat of abortion, but also developing better ways to prevent defects. If we don't know how many fetuses with Down Syndrome are killed in late-term abortions, how can we prevent abortions through pro-life medical intervention? People who do this kind of statistical research do seem to get frustrated about the lack of information late-term abortions: not necessarily pro-lifers like me, but people who are trying to investigate stillbirths and birth defects.

I think it would benefit both the pro-life effort and the medical community if there was in place some kind of policy or law which required doctors to count late-term abortions. Also, it would be helpful if the law required that abortion be listed as a partial cause of death. Right now it's not, which is dumb. If a doctor injects a fetus with a lethal dose of potassium chloride, shouldn't that be listed as a cause of death?

Late-term abortion exists in the shadows, as this research shows. People believe all kinds of myths about it, but if the medical community only brought it out in the open, we'd know the truth. I have a hunch that many people do not want the world to know the truth.

I will keep you updated on my findings, as warranted.

EDITED JULY 21, 2007 for clarity.

Visit Opinions Canada
a political blogs aggregator