Member of West Australian parliament wants to know why 27 abortion survivors neglected

By Dave Andrusko

West Australian MP Nick Goiran is nothing if not determined.  Thwarted at every turn, he refuses to give up. He wants to know why 27 babies who survived an abortion were left to die unattended.

Anne Lim writes

The Liberal MP tabled [introduced] a petition in the Legislative Council calling for an inquiry into why these babies – six of whom survived abortions after 26 weeks of gestation – were not given the same care as any other premature baby.

It is through Goiran’s questions in parliament since 2011 that the Health Minister revealed that 27 babies in WA survived abortion between 1999 and 2016. The majority were late-term abortions – 15 were between 20-25 weeks and six were 26 weeks or later.

Adding to the tragedy is that while the Health Minister has made it clear no medical care was offered to many of these babies, the law is clear that it should have been. As Lim explains: “once born, a baby is a WA (Western Australian) citizen, whether accidental or not, and entitled to all the rights and privileges of any WA citizen.”

Goiran told Lim, “Health practitioners tell us that in Western Australia the protocol is that if the baby is 23 weeks or more, then they engage with all the resources that are available and the skills and so on. It’s a call to action at 23 weeks or more.”

There were, he explained, “at least six [late-term abortions] that were 26 weeks or more, so why were those six Western Australian babies given a lesser standard of care than other Western Australian babies at 26 weeks or more?”

The answer remains elusive, in spite of Goiran’s determined and long-standing efforts.

“A few years ago, I pursued this very vigorously with the then health minister,” he told the newspaper. “[They] agreed to direct the panel that makes the decisions on late-term abortions, that they have to report to the health minister every year explaining … the conditions that the baby had that justified the abortion.

Goiran described that as a great win “This is very important because we know that historically there have been some for Down syndrome and dwarfism,” he said.

“The bad news is that there’s been no transparency – those reports are hidden. I have asked repeatedly for them to be tabled in parliament and that has been refused. I have applied under the Freedom of Information Act for those reports to be released – the Department of Health has rejected the application. I have applied for a review of that decision – the review was also rejected. The reports remain unreleased, so I am now applying to the Freedom of Information Commissioner for an independent determination on that issue.”

Meanwhile, Goiran has introduced a petition organized by the Coalition for the Defence of Human Life.

The petition containing 7,000 signatures, has been referred to the Standing Committee of the Environment and Public Affairs. According to Lim, the committee has contacted the organizer– Dwight Randall, president of the Coalition for the Defence of Human Life—“seeking a submission within 30 days on the purpose behind the petition.”

“The point I will make is this is a matter that ought to be investigated – these babies were born alive and neglected and left to die, and every child born is entitled to care,” says Randall.

So why the minimum media coverage and “political paralysis” surrounding around late-term abortion survivors who are not being treated properly? According to Goiran because it is connected with abortion “which is seen as a no-go area.”

“It’s a tragedy right before us. If a Western Australian dies in any other tragic situation, or unexpected situation, there is always a call to arms, there are cries for an inquiry and rightly so … but in these cases no one wants to talk about it.”