A BABY survived an abortion only to be left screaming unattended in a sluice room, according to evidence collected by police for consideration by the Director of Public Prosecutions.
The baby boy was named Timothy John by nurses who later told police that they had persuaded a consultant at the Luton and Dunstable Hospital to allow the child to be taken from the sluice room to a special care unit.
Police have now completed investigations into the incident and the file has been sent to the DPP. Police succeeded in gaining access to the case notes, though a doctor at the hospital has claimed that they had received inadequate co-operation from the authorities there.
The baby has been estimated by experts to have been 34 weeks from conception at the time of the abortion. Under the 1967 Abortion Act, abortions are only legal if the child is not capable of being born alive, and this has generally been taken as 28 weeks.
The mother was examined by her general practitioner, a partner in her father's medical practice, and a specialist before the abortion. They gave the age of the foetus as 23 weeks.
The 23-year-old mother of the baby was admitted to hospital on September 23 at 8am and the baby was born at lOpm.
Nurses say he was then taken crying in a sheet to the sluice room and left screaming for five or ten minutes. A nurse has told police that it was feared his cries would wake other patients.
Life, the anti-abortion group which drew the attention of police to the incident on October 6, said this week: "The child had to save his own life by screaming his head off."
The child was found to weigh almost four pounds. He has been
placed in the care of foster parents and is reported to be doing well.
The mother of the child said at the weekend that she had told police that the baby was conceived when she was raped. She had been frightened to tell her parents and only admitted her pregnancy on return from a holiday in Corfu, weeks later. She said that she had been attacked in Luton, her home town.
The South Bedfordshire District Health Authority has asked the North West Thames Regional Health Authority to take action over the incident. But the superior authority has decided to wait until the outcome of the police investigations are known.
Two main issues are involved: • Why the baby was aborted at an age which enabled it to sustain independent life.
• Why the baby was not immediately given support to keep alive.
Mrs Diane Munday of the British Pregnancy Advisory Service, which funds clinics where abortions are carried out, pointed out last week that the complaint by Life coincided with new efforts in Parliament to have the abortion law tightened up.
Mrs Nuala Scarisbrick of Life said that the complaint to police had been made before any action in Parliament had been contemplated.
Mr John Corrie MP, who introduced an unsuccessful Private Members' Bill to limit the Abortion Act in 1979, has drawn first place in the ballot for Bills again. But he has said he is reluctant to repeat the attempt because of the abuse his family was given before.