Haunting memories


Issue: "Who'll be king of the Hill?," Oct. 7, 2000

My name is Jill Stanek, and I'm a registered nurse who has worked in the labor and delivery department at Christ Hospital in Oak Lawn, Ill., for the past five years. Christ Hospital performs abortions on women in their second or even third trimesters of pregnancy. Sometimes the babies 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 prematurely deliver a baby who dies during the birth process or soon afterward.... When this occurs, the small, pre-term baby drops out of the uterus, often alive. It is not uncommon for a live aborted baby to linger for an hour or two or even longer. One of these babies was known to live for almost an entire eight-hour shift. In the event that a baby is aborted alive, he or she receives no medical assessments or care but is only given what Christ Hospital calls "comfort care." "Comfort care" is defined as keeping the baby warm in a blanket until he or she dies, although even this so-called 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 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.... The mark that this little person's untimely death left on my heart will never go away. In large part, I ended up here today because of that baby. Other co-workers have told me 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 any medical help. A support associate told me about a live aborted baby who was left to die on the counter in our soiled utility room wrapped in a disposable towel. This baby was accidentally thrown in the garbage. Later, when they later were going through the trash trying to find the baby, the baby fell out of the towel and onto 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 plus weeks pregnant, and it did not look as if her baby would continue to be able to live inside of her. The baby was healthy and had up to a 39 percent chance of survival, according to our national statistics. But the patient chose to abort.... The only personnel present for this delivery were an obstetrical resident and my co-working friend. After delivery the baby, who showed early signs of thriving, was merely wrapped in a blanket and kept in the labor and delivery department until she died two and a half hours later. To me, something is very wrong with a legal system that requires doctors to pronounce babies dead but does not require them to assess babies for life. I am also very uncomfortable with the fact that the very doctors who may be miscalculating birth weights, due dates, or misdiagnosing fetal handicaps, are the same ones deciding that these babies should not be assessed after delivery.... No other children in America are medically abandoned like this.
-This article is taken from Nurse Stanek's congressional testimony

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