Date Tue, 27 Mar 2001 114133 EST
from the desk of Dan Zanoza
Nurse's Testimony shocks Illinois Senate Judiciary Committee
SPRINGFIELD, IL, March 27, 2001 (RFM NEWS) EXCLUSIVE
RFM News has exclusively obtained a written transcript of Nurse Jill Stanek's written testimony before the Illinois Senate Judiciary Committee's hearing on the Born Alive Infants Protection Act. Stanek, a labor and delivery nurse at Christ Hospital and Medical Center in Oak Lawn, Illinois, was first to expose an abortion procedure which many are calling "live-birth abortion."
Stanek will appear in front of the Senate Judiciary Committee Tuesday afternoon in Springfield. Following is a transcript of Mrs. Stanek's testimony.
I am a Registered Nurse who has worked in the Labor & Delivery Department at Christ Hospital in Oak Lawn, Illinois, for the past 5-1/2 years. Christ Hospital performs abortions during the second and even third trimesters of pregnancy.
The abortion method being called into question that Christ Hospital and other Illinois hospitals practice is called "induced labor abortion." This abortion technique sometimes results in infants being aborted alive. In the event that an infant is aborted alive at Christ Hospital, she or he is given no medical assessments or care whatsoever, but is left to die.
The induced labor abortion procedure can be performed using a couple different medications, 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.
At Christ Hospital the physician inserts a medication called Cytotec into the mother's birth canal next to the cervix. The cervix is the opening at the bottom of the uterus that normally stays closed until a mother is about 40 weeks pregnant and ready to deliver. But Cytotec irritates the cervix and stimulates it to open early. When this happens, the pre-term baby drops out of the uterus, sometimes alive.
In the event that a baby is aborted alive at Christ Hospital, he or she is not given any medical care, but is rather given what my hospital calls "comfort care." "Comfort care" is defined as keeping the baby warm in a blanket until the baby dies, although until recently even this was not always done. The baby is then offered to the parents to hold until he or she dies. If the parents do not want to hold their dying aborted baby, as is most often the case, it is left to nursing staff or support staff on the floor to hold the baby until he or she dies. And, until this past December, when staff did not have time or the desire to hold the baby, the baby was taken to our Soiled Utility Room and left there alone to die. Christ Hospital's comfort care policy, #WHS492, only requires that live aborted babies be checked for signs of life once an hour, or "as needed in order to verify time of death."
It is not uncommon for live aborted babies to linger for an hour or two or even longer. At Christ Hospital, one of these babies once lived for almost an entire eight-hour shift. Last year alone, of the 13 babies that I am aware of who were aborted at Christ Hospital, at least four lived between 1-1/2 to 3 hours, two boys and two girls. Christ Hospital says that it compassionately aborts babies with very serious mental or physical handicaps. But Christ Hospital will also abort for life or health of the mother. So at least two of the second-trimester babies who were aborted last year, for instance, were completely healthy.
One night, a nursing coworker 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 ½ 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 coworkers have told me about incidences of live aborted babies whom they have cared for. 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.
A nursing coworker told me about an incident she was involved in last spring that she said "I just can't stop thinking about." She participated in the abortion of a healthy 23-1/7 week baby who was given no medical assessments or care after delivery, but was allowed to languish for 2-1/2 hours until she died, even though she showed early signs of thriving. Just three weeks after this baby was aborted, another mother came to the hospital under similar circumstances, carrying an identically aged baby, and she was offered the same options. But she said that she wanted her baby. And so present at her delivery--because Christ Hospital is a Level III mother/baby care hospital -- was a neonatologist, a pediatric resident, a pediatric nurse, and a respiratory therapist, all assigned specifically to take care of that little girl at delivery. And for the two days that I tracked her, that little girl lived.
Christ Hospital is one of only 11 hospitals that the State of Illinois has designated as a Level III perinatal institution -- its highest ranking -- which means that Christ Hospital is considered to have both the best equipment and the most highly trained medical personnel care for the sickest of the sick mothers and babies.
Another nurse friend told me about the patient she was caring for who had chosen to abort her second trimester baby, having been told that the boy had gross internal and external fetal anomalies. When her baby was aborted alive, however, he looked fine. The mother became hysterical and screamed for someone to help her baby. A neonatologist was called over, but told the family that the baby had been born too early to help. The mother was so traumatized that she had to be tranquilized, and it was left to the grandparents to hold the little baby boy the ½ hour that he lived.
Last July, I was asked to testify before the U. S. House Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution regarding the babies I knew about who were aborted alive and left to die at Christ Hospital. Another nurse who worked at the hospital, but who has since moved to Virginia, Allison Baker, also agreed to testify. Allison described walking into the Soiled Utility Room on two separate occasions to find babies left naked on a scale and the metal counter. She told about the patient, that she herself had, who didn't know that her aborted baby might be born alive, and after he was taken to the Soiled Utility Room she kept asking, "Is he dead yet? Is he dead yet?"
Allison and I were called to testify in Washington in regard to a bill called the Born Alive Infants Protection Act. This bill simply clarifies an apparently confusing tenet -- that any baby born alive, completely separated from his or her mother, whether through abortion or not, has the same rights as American citizen human beings that you and I have. This would include the right to medical assessments and care -- and not just "comfort care" when a baby is not wanted.
The Born Alive Infants Protection Act flew through the Judiciary Subcommittee, which had some well-known pro-choice congresspersons on it such as Jerry Nadler and Maxine Waters. It then passed in the House by a large vote of 380-15. Almost everyone on both sides of the abortion debate clearly saw that what was being discussed was infanticide. It was still confounding that 15 Congresspersons could vote against this bill in favor of infanticide, but they did. World Magazine listed these people and called them "the Fanatical Fifteen." The congressional session did end before this bill could be introduced in the Senate last autumn and still stands to be reintroduced in the House very soon.
Meanwhile, here in Illinois, life and death go on. Four months ago, Christ Hospital unveiled its "Comfort Room." So now I can no longer say that live aborted babies are left in our Soiled Utility Room to die. We now have this prettily wallpapered room complete with a First Foto machine, baptismal gowns, a footprinter, and baby bracelets, so that we can offer keepsakes to parents of their aborted babies. There is even a nice wooden rocker in the room to rock live aborted babies to death.
It is wrong that current Illinois law mandates a doctor to pronounce a born-alive aborted baby dead but does not mandate the doctor to assess that baby for life and chances of survival. It is wrong that Illinois law mandates both birth and death certificates be issued "admitting that these aborted babies are indeed human" but does not give these babies any rights whatsoever to medical care. No other children in Illinois or America are treated this way. It is just not right that a baby should be left to die simply because her mother does not want her. It is not right 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. They're being allowed to destroy the very evidence that might make them liable for lawsuits if they have been wrong.
What is the difference between a teen-age girl at her prom putting her unwanted baby in the garbage to die and the medical staff at a hospital putting an unwanted baby in a Comfort Room to die? There is no difference.
The Senate Judiciary Committee begins hearing testimony Tuesday, March 27th, over Senate Bills 1093, 1094 and 1095, sponsored by Senator Patrick O'Malley (R-18-Palos Park), which would give equal protection under the law to all premature babies born alive--regardless of their age or whether their mother wants them or not; would require medical evaluation of all live births; defines "human being" in Illinois statutes; and sets up legal groundwork for civil liability.