"Baby Hope" was scheduled to die in two days, another victim of partial-birth abortion. Her mother had already begun the three-day procedure at notorious abortionist Martin Haskell's clinic, preparing her body to allow the abortionist to pull most of her baby feet-first out of the womb and then suck out the little girl's brain. Instead, the baby took her final breaths in the loving arms of a medical technician at the hospital that treated her mother for pain caused by the initial phase of the abortion procedure.
While the mother was being examined at Bethesda North Hospital in suburban Cincinnati, Ohio, April 7, she gave birth to a 22-week-old unborn baby -- a little girl who was too premature to survive, but who breathed and clung to life for over three hours. Hospital workers who cared for Baby Hope report continuing feelings of sadness and grief, but also peace -- "peace that she was comforted, held close, and even sang to until she took her last breath," according to nurse Connie Boyles. Emergency room technician Shelly Lowe held the baby until she died three hours and eight minutes after her birth. "I sat and held her. I felt no one should die alone," said Lowe at an April 20 news conference held by local pro-life groups. "We had her baptized. I named her Hope because I'd hoped she would make it."
Baby Hope's 19-year-old mother received the first stage of the abortion April 6, which involves inserting devices called laminaria in order to artificially dilate the cervix (the opening to the womb). Early the next morning, the mother arrived at the emergency room of the hospital, complaining of severe abdominal pain, according to the Catholic Telegraph. At first, she did not tell hospital workers that she was five months pregnant or that she had begun the partial-birth abortion procedure.
Suddenly, she gave birth to the little girl. "The baby took a gasp of air, which totally shocked me," Lowe said at the news conference. Neonatologists were quickly called to examine Baby Hope. They determined her "lungs were not developed enough to support life or to permit them to respirate her," according to the Cincinnati Post.
Lowe volunteered to stay with the baby until she died, rocking her and singing to her, watching her make small movements. "Her bottom lip would go in," Lowe said. "She would move her hands. The hands would open and close."
..."Baby Hope" is the name that Bethesda North Hospital Medical Technician Shelly Lowe, gave the baby. She was in her mother's womb for 22 weeks until her mother went to Dayton abortionist, Martin Haskell. At his abortion chamber, lamanaria were inserted to open her womb in preparation for extracting the baby in the process called partial birth abortion. After undergoing the first part of the abortion, the mother experienced acute abdominal pain, went to Bethesda North Hospital and delivered the baby in the emergency room. The baby was 22 weeks old and was born alive. Connie Boyles, a nurse, and Shelly Lowe attended her. A doctor judged that the baby could not survive and did not order intensive care. After a short time it became evident that she was breathing on her own and surviving on room air, but the order was not changed. She lived 3 hours without artificial assistance, raising the obvious question of her possible survivability if she had been given full intensive care. Ms. Lowe rocked and sang to her, talked to her and rubbed her cheeks for 3 hours until she died. "I wanted her to feel that she was wanted.
She was a perfectly formed newborn, entering the world too soon, through no choice of her own.
The baby's death certificate reinforces the tragedy of her short 1ife. The cause of death is listed as "extreme prematurity secondary to induced abortion," which is deemed a "natural" manner of death. She has no official first name and no social security number, and her life is succinctly described by the stark words "never married" and "never worked". She was cremated.
Health care workers at Bethesda Thrth Hospital are still feeling the effects of Baby Hope's death. "Staff who cared for her on the night of her birth have experienced a myriad of emotions," said Boyles, a registered nurse at the Hospital, in a statement released by Ohio Right to Life. "The emotional trauma inflicted on our department is deeper and will last longer than the physical railties that we deal with on a daily basis. Many hours have been devoted to staff counseling and 'venting' as a group and individually."
Lowe and Boyles decided to make the story public and be advocates for Baby Hope, to let people know that late-term babies like her are dying every day through partial-birth abortions -- but the babies are usually killed out of sight, in the "privacy" of abortion mills. Baby Hope "was a patient in our emergency department, a perfectly formed new-born, entering the world too soon, through no choice of her own," said Boyles. "She had no voice to tell us that she needed our help that early morning, because others had decided for her that she was worthless and removed her from the ultimate and perfect life support equipment -- her mothers' womb."
The workers are facing disapproval from other health professionals because they broke their profession's "code of silence" by speaking out about a case, according to Lehner. "Colleagues are shunning them for having talked," she said. "But they were so disturbed by this incident they needed to talk about it."
Pro-abortion groups responded to Baby Hope's life and death by attacking the nurses and pro lifers who brought the story to the public's attention, completely ignoring the little girl who died. "We are ... extremely concerned about the seeming disregard for this woman's confidentiality exhibited by hospital employees who went to Right to Life with this story", National Abortion Federation Executive Director Vicki Saporta said in an April 20 press release. "No woman should have to fear that her personal medical experience will be used as a tool by politicians and anti-choice organizations to further a political agenda." "Talking points" included with the press release described the incident as the "miscarriage of a 22-week nonviable fetus."
A spokeswoman for another pro-abortion group, Sue Momeyer, chief executive officer of Planned Parenthood of Southwest Ohio and Northern Kentucky, told the Associated Press, "I am concerned that what looks like a very difficult and tragic situation is being used for political purposes.
"Momeyer did not explain what she thought was 'tragic' about the 'situation'", said NRLC Legislative Director Douglas Johnson. "After all, an attempt was undertaken to kill Baby Hope through a partial-birth abortion, and Baby Hope did in fact die as a result -- so why does Planned Parenthood, which defends the right to unrestricted partial-birth abortion, use the word 'tragedy'? I suspect that in Planned Parenthood's view, the 'tragedy' is that Baby Hope had the bad taste to fight for life for three hours while others were watching, thereby reminding people of what 'abortion rights' really means."
In the wake of this tragedy, legislators on both the state and federal level called for renewed efforts to pass partial-birth abortion bans. In 1995, Ohio enacted a bill to restrict what it called "brain-suction abortion", intended to curb Dr Haskell's use of what later became known as partial-birth abortion. However, the bill was struck down in federal court in 1997. Subsequent attempts to place a national ban on "partial-birth abortions" were blocked twice at the federal level by President Clinton's vetoes, but have been enacted in a number of other states.
State Rep Jerry Luebbers issued a statement promising to introduce new legislation to ban the procedure in Ohio. "The tragedy of 'Baby Hope' should lead us to redouble our efforts to protect children from what amounts to a form of infanticide", Luebbers said. "To this end, I will soon be introducing a new bill to ban this inhumane partial-birth procedure in Ohio. I am confident that the great majority of Ohio's citizens don't want any child subjected to this brutality."
U.S. Sen Mike DeWine of Ohio called on Congress to pass the ban again despite two presidential vetoes. "Despite our best efforts, partial-birth abortions continue to occur in our own backyard", he said in a statement. "Once again, I am confident Congress will do the right thing and pass this very important bill. It is time to make this bill a law."