Arizona police investigating reports of baby born alive at abortion mill
PHOENIX, Arizona, March 2, 2016 (LifeSiteNews) – Pro-life supporters held a prayer vigil outside a Phoenix-area hospital Saturday night for a child reported to have survived an abortion at 21 weeks of age at a nearby abortion facility on Friday. And while police say the baby has since died, pro-life advocates are hoping for more answers on the events surrounding the child's brief life outside the womb.
Details remain unclear, but authorities have begun investigating the incident, according to the Arizona Republic. The Phoenix police confirmed in a statement Monday that a fetus was transported to Banner Medical Center with no fetal heart tones and was pronounced dead immediately upon arrival. A statement from the department followed Tuesday saying “there were no elements of a crime established,” according to RH Reality Check.
Word spread Friday afternoon of the 21-week-old baby, transported from Family Planning Associates Medical Group to Banner-University Medical Center Phoenix after the child had survived an abortion attempt. The newspaper report said pro-life supporters had heard about the incident from a 911 dispatcher, though the reports remain unverified.
The abortion facility staff and officials would not confirm the incident, nor would the hospital, but the hospital released a statement late Saturday night saying that it was "not caring for a baby that survived an abortion procedure, as cited in media reports." A spokeswoman for the Phoenix Fire Department confirmed Friday night that the department "transported a baby to the hospital this afternoon at around 1:40 p.m."
Representatives from the abortion facility have since told RH Reality Check they would soon issue a statement on the incident.
Despite minimal information at the outset, nobody doubted the truthfulness of whether a baby had been transported from the abortion facility to the hospital, Sheila Riely, program director of Life Choices Women's Clinic, told LifeSiteNews, or the media would not have come out to cover it.
"Clearly an abortion clinic does not call an ambulance for a dead child," Riely said. "That is their daily work."
"There seems to be more to the story," she continued. "This is the ugly face of abortion."
Pro-life supporters distributed fliers outside the abortion facility Saturday for the prayer vigil that night for the child, whom they named Baby Chava (Hebrew for "life").
Some 60 people took part in the vigil, said Riely, whose organization operates three Phoenix-area pro-life medical clinics, one a mobile clinic. Participants prayed, sang, held signs, and lit candles, still unsure of the child's fate.
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"We're having a prayer vigil," Tonya Gruszynski, executive director of Life Choices said in a video interview Saturday night outside Banner-University Medical Center.
"There was an unborn baby that was born alive from a failed abortion attempt at Family Planning Associates yesterday," she said. "The paramedics were called; they rushed the baby to this hospital. We were told that the baby is alive, and so we're here praying for the health of the baby."
"We're here to pray for the mother, who certainly was not expecting this, and for the family of that child," Gruszynski continued. "We're also praying for the abortion doctor who performed this procedure on this child, who is faced with the humanity of what an unborn baby is."
Ambulances had been seen at abortion facility in the past, Riely told LifeSiteNews, one just in the last several months.
Family Planning Associates Medical Group was also the site of a December 2012 Live Action video investigation, during which clinic staff discussed how aborted babies can be born alive during an abortion and confirmed they do not resuscitate children who survive abortions at the facility. The staff also proceeded with the pregnant investigator's abortion inquiry despite her unborn child having been shown to be 24 weeks old, past the legal age to abort, and made statements suggesting that infanticide was occurring at the facility.
"So the fetus and everything that goes along with it...they're cremated, and then the ashes we spread out in the desert," Doctor Laura Mercer, then a resident at Family Planning Associates, said at the time.
Live Action called for an investigation of the facility and Mercer, calling their practices "barbaric, inhuman, and deeply disturbing."
Riely said history is repeating itself with Baby Chava. Twelve years ago, after a failed abortion, a child left the same hospital alive and was adopted out. The abortionist in that case was Doctor John Biskind, who later lost his license, and the facility, A-z Women's Center, has since closed.
Investigators have yet to confirm that Baby Chava survived the abortion, but "someone present there believed there was movement or might have been movement," Phoenix P.D. Sgt. Trent Crump said. Crump stated as well that it was too soon to say whether there would be any charges, adding that it didn't appear that the procedure, reported as "elective," occurred outside Arizona's fetal age parameters.
A spokesman for Maricopa County confirmed that the Medical Examiner's Office had received notification of a case with the general description of the incident. However, officials have declined to perform an autopsy because the case does not fall under the jurisdiction described by state law.
The child who survived an abortion previously and was brought to Banner University Medical Center was past 24 weeks of age, Riely said, making the abortion clearly illegal, since viability is generally accepted as being in the 22- to 24-week range.
The concept of fetal viability makes Baby Chava's case critical, with the question of whether it can be proved that the 21-week-old child survived the abortion.
Riely said what happens now depends on the police.
She pointed out that Arizona law requires a report to be made to the Department of Health Services if any injury or condition occurs at an abortion facility that requires ambulance transportation of a patient.
The law, which encompasses viable fetuses along with their mothers, states:
The abortion clinic records each incident resulting in a patient's or viable fetus' serious injury occurring at an abortion clinic and shall report them in writing to the department within ten days after the incident. For the purposes of this paragraph, "serious injury" means an injury that occurs at an abortion clinic and that creates a serious risk of substantial impairment of a major body organ and includes any injury or condition that requires ambulance transportation of the patient.
Given that the 911 tape is a public record and that the law requires an ambulance report, Riely said, more answers should be forthcoming.
"What these will confirm is what we don't know," she said.