Ms B † (2004) – New Zealand

Dying mum begged docs to abort baby

Ms B died of catastrophic heart failure because of a high-risk pregnancy that should have been aborted. In 2005, her sister filed a complaint with the New Zealand Health and Disability Commissioner, alleging negligent care by the hospital. Ms B had requested a termination after being told her heart condition could compromise the pregnancy and her life, but she had been either persuaded by staff that the risks were small, or that it was (by 21 weeks) too late for the termination to be legally performed. Her sister stated that Ms B “did not want to be an incubator” and had wanted the baby to take his own chances. She added that Ms B did not believe that she would survive the pregnancy and wanted it terminated to give her the opportunity to live.

Yet, both Ms B and her fetus died. Apparently, on the basis that her pregnancy had been wanted, her doctors never discussed the option of termination with her. They downplayed her deteriorating condition and ignored her request for an abortion, intent on trying to save her and the pregnancy instead. The Commissioner’s report on the death does not mention “conscientious objection” or whether the doctors were objectors, but the report shows the same suspicious pattern found in the cases of Savita (Ireland) and the two Valentina cases from Italy. Doctors failed to offer or discuss termination, did not pay attention to her stated wishes/concerns and emotional state, and her family complained that her wishes for a termination were disregarded.

Report from the New Zealand Health and Disability Commissioner (60 pages) Dying mum begged docs to abort baby