Editor’s note. This update comes from the Irish pro-life organization, LifeZone.
The Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe will soon have to decide whether to take action to deal with the issue of late abortions, answering a written question submitted last month. The question raises particular issues for the United Kingdom following the revelation that each year about 60 foetuses survive after late abortions for several minutes, and sometimes for several hours. They are left to die or killed by medical staff even though some could survive with medical assistance.
The problem also exists in other countries, including Sweden and Italy, where in 2010 a 22 week “foetus” was found alive 20 hours after being aborted. The baby was then placed in intensive care, where he died the next day. He was aborted because he had a cleft lip and palate. Another child in Florence survived three full days after having been aborted. Such events are happening everywhere that late term abortions are allowed, but are rarely reported and made public.
The question asks the Committee of Ministers to act “in order to guarantee that foetuses who survive abortions are not deprived of the medical treatment that they are entitled to—as human persons born alive—according to the European Convention on Human Rights”. Even people who argue that life only begins at birth must accept that a human “foetus” born alive is a person.
To prevent these situations, Norway decided at the beginning of January to prohibit abortion completely after 22 weeks, the threshold of viability outside the uterus as determined by the World Health Organisation.
The Committee of Ministers will provide a written response to this question in the coming weeks. The response adopted by the Committee of Ministers has political authority. Last July, in response to another question, the Committee of Ministers acknowledged the absence of a European consensus as to the existence of a “right to abortion” under the European Convention on Human Rights.