Police reports released Wednesday show a nurse at an abortion clinic thought she saw an aborted fetus move, touching off a debate over whether a child had survived an abortion and was allowed to die.
The police reports shows the mother, 27, had been scheduled for an abortion, but went into what the report called, "spontaneous labor." The doctor at the clinic near downtown Phoenix told police she had checked for a fetal heartbeat before the procedure and found none. She said she believed the baby would be stillborn.
The reports said a nurse went to weigh the fetus, which is standard procedure, and thought she saw it move and struggle to breathe. "Oh my God this fetus is moving," the reports claim she said.
Staff at the clinic then called 911 and paramedics began CPR while transporting the baby to Banner University Medical Center, the report said. But doctors there did not find a heartbeat and pronounced the baby deceased within a few minutes.
Under federal law, abortion clinics have to provide medical care to a baby that survives an abortion.
"Nobody did anything wrong," Kat Sabine, executive director of the Arizona chapter NARAL Pro-Choice America. "Absolutely, nobody did anything wrong. The doctor, in fact, did everything right."
Pro-life activists heard about the case that night in February and, believing the baby was still alive, organized a vigil outside the hospital.
Pro-life activist and lawyer John Jakubczyk said the uproar wasn't over whether the abortion was legal, though he has questions about that. He said it was a moral protest.
"Maybe the child was born and only lived for a moment, maybe the child lived for a lot longer than a few moments. I don't know," Jakubczyk said. "But I do know this; you had a human being who was born, you had a human being who died."