SUBCOMMITTEE ON THE CONSTITUTION
Committee on the Judiciary
U.S. House of Representatives
Hadley Arkes, Edward Ney Professor of Jurisprudence and American Institutions, Amherst College
Allison Baker, Charlottesville, Virginia
Jill L. Stanek, Mokena, Illinois
Matthew G. Hile, Ph.D., St. Louis, Missouri
Gianna Jessen, Franklin, Tennessee
Honorable Stephanie Tubbs Jones (D-OH)
Kenneth Thomas, Legislative Attorney, American Law Division, Congressional Research Service,
The Library of Congress
Gerard V. Bradley, Professor of Law, Notre Dame Law School
F. Sessions Cole, M.D., Professor of Pediatrics and Cell Biology and Physiology, Washington
University School of Medicine, St. Louis, Missouri
Watson A. Bowes, Jr., M.D., Professor Emeritus, Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology,
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Medicine
Robert P. George, McCormick Professor of Jurisprudence, Department of Politics, Princeton
Testimony of Jill L. Stanek, RN
Hearing on H.R. 4292, the "Born Alive Infant Protection Act of 2000"
July 20, 2000
I am a Registered Nurse who has worked in the Labor & Delivery Department at Christ Hospital in Oak Lawn, Illinois, for the past five years. Christ Hospital performs abortions on women in their second or even third trimesters of pregnancy. Sometimes the babies being aborted are healthy, and sometimes they are not.
The method of abortion that Christ Hospital uses is called "induced labor abortion," also now known as "live birth abortion." This type of abortion can be performed different ways, but the goal always is to cause a pregnant woman's cervix to open so that she will deliver a premature baby who dies during the birth process or soon afterward. The way that induced abortion is most often executed at my hospital is by the physician inserting a medication called Cytotec into the birth canal close to the cervix. Cytotec irritates the cervix and stimulates it to open. When this occurs, the small, preterm baby drops out of the uterus, oftentimes alive. It is not uncommon for one of these live aborted babies to linger for an hour or two or even longer. One of them once lived for almost eight hours.
In the event that a baby is aborted alive, he or she receives no medical assessments or care but is only given what my hospital calls "comfort care." "Comfort care" is defined as keeping the baby warm in a blanket until he or she dies, although even this minimal compassion is not always provided. It is not required that these babies be held during their short lives.
One night, a nursing co-worker was taking an aborted Down's Syndrome baby who was born alive to our Soiled Utility Room because his parents did not want to hold him, and she did not have time to hold him. I could not bear the thought of this suffering child dying alone in a Soiled Utility Room, so I cradled and rocked him for the 45 minutes that he lived. He was 21 to 22 weeks old, weighed about 1/2 pound, and was about 10 inches long. He was too weak to move very much, expending any energy he had trying to breathe. Toward the end he was so quiet that I couldn't tell if he was still alive unless I held him up to the light to see if his heart was still beating through his chest wall. After he was pronounced dead, we folded his little arms across his chest, wrapped him in a tiny shroud, and carried him to the hospital morgue where all of our dead patients are taken.
Other co-workers have told me many upsetting stories about live aborted babies whom they have cared for. I was told about an aborted baby who was supposed to have Spina bifida but was delivered with an intact spine. Another nurse is haunted by the memory of an aborted baby who came out weighing much more than expected ~ almost two pounds. She is haunted because she doesn't know if she made a mistake by not getting that baby medical help. A Support Associate told me about a live aborted baby who was left to die on the counter of the Soiled Utility Room wrapped in a disposable towel. This baby was accidentally thrown into the garbage, and when they later were going through the trash to find the baby, the baby fell out of the towel and on to the floor.
I was recently told about a situation by a nurse who said, "I can't stop thinking about it." She had a patient who was 23+ weeks pregnant, and it did not look as if her baby would be able to continue to live inside of her. The baby was healthy and had up to a 39% chance of survival, according to national statistics. But the patient chose to abort. The baby was born alive. If the mother had wanted everything done for her baby, there would have been a neonatologist, pediatric resident, neonatal nurse, and respiratory therapist present for the delivery, and the baby would have been taken to our Neonatal Intensive Care Unit for specialized care. Instead, the only personnel present for this delivery were an obstetrical resident and my co-worker. After delivery the baby, who showed early signs of thriving, was merely wrapped in a blanket and kept in the Labor & Delivery Department until she died 2-1/2 hours later.
Something is very wrong with a legal system that says doctors are mandated to pronounce babies dead but are not mandated to assess babies for life and chances of survival. In other words, our laws currently say that babies have no rights to medical oversight until they are dead. We look the other way and pretend that these babies aren't human while they're alive but human only after they are dead. We issue these babies both birth and death certificates, but it is really only the death certificate that matters. No other children in America are medically abandoned like this.
Abortion is a cancer that is literally killing America. It is killing our children while it is killing our consciences. It began when we took God out of our decision making and proclaimed that the little beings growing inside of women were "products of conception" and not little girls and little boys. Who should be surprised that we keep pushing the envelope so that now we are aborting these "products of conception" alive? I even work at a hospital named "Christ" that does this very thing! It is beyond me to comprehend that we're doing what we're doing now, and so I can't even imagine what horrible ways we will think of next to torture our children. Please help put an end to this by proclaiming infants as American human being homo sapiens with the same legal and medical rights that you and I big people have. Thank you.
Added to second-to-last paragraph of Jill's oral testimony:
"I am also very uncomfortable with the fact that the very doctors who may be miscalculating due dates and fetal birth weights, or misdiagnosing fetal handicaps, are the same ones deciding that these babies should not be assessed after delivery. Shouldn't these babies be given the simple opportunity for second opinion, just like you and I?"
Statement of Allison Baker, RN, BSN
Hearing on H.R. 4292, The Born-Alive Infants Protection Act
Subcommittee on the Constitution
July 20, 2000
In August of 1998 I began working in a high risk labor and delivery unit at Christ Hospital and Medical Center in Oak Lawn, Illinois. When I was hired, I was informed of a procedure called "therapeutic abortion" which was performed in the unit. This procedure was reserved for babies with particular conditions such as Down's Syndrome, Spina Bifida, Potter's Syndrome and many others. It was explained to me that in these cases, the mother would have an induced labor to expel the fetus in order to discontinue growth and life. This was an elective procedure and the patient was to be informed of all the details it involved.
Between August of 1998 and August of 1999, I witnessed three particular cases of therapeutic abortions at Christ Hospital first hand. The first occurred on a day shift. I happened to walk into a "soiled utility room" and saw, lying on the metal counter, a fetus, naked, exposed and breathing, moving its arms and legs. The fetus was visibly alive, and was gasping for breath. I left to find the nurse who was caring for the patient and this fetus. When I asked her about the fetus, she said that she was so busy with the mother that she didn't have time to wrap and place the fetus in the warmer, and she asked if I would do that for her. Later I found out that the fetus was 22 weeks old, and had undergone a therapeutic abortion because it had been diagnosed with Down's Syndrome. I did wrap the fetus and place him in a warmer and for 2-1/2 hours he maintained a heartbeat, and then finally expired.
The second case involved a couple who had requested a therapeutic abortion for their 20 week fetus with Spina Bifida. My shift started at 11:00 PM, and the patient delivered her fetus about 10 minutes before I took her as a patient. During the time the fetus was alive, the patient kept asking me when the fetus would die. For an hour and 45 minutes the fetus maintained a heartbeat. The parents were frustrated, and obviously not prepared for this long period of time. Since I was the nurse of both the mother and fetus, I held the fetus in my arms until it finally expired.
The third case occurred when a nurse with whom I was working was taking care of a mother waiting to deliver her 16 week Down's Syndrome fetus. Again, I walked into the soiled utility room and the fetus was fully exposed, lying on the baby scale. I went to find the nurse who was caring for this mother and fetus, and she asked if I could help her by measuring and weighing the fetus for the charting and death certificate. When I went back into the soiled utility room, the fetus was moving its arms and legs. I then listened for a heartbeat, and found that the fetus still was alive. I wrapped the fetus and in 45 minutes the fetus finally expired.