Between August of 1998 and August of 1999, I witnessed three particular cases of therapeutic abortions at Christ Hospital first hand. The first occurred on a day shift. I happened to walk into a "soiled utility room" and saw, lying on the metal counter, a fetus, naked, exposed and breathing, moving its arms and legs. The fetus was visibly alive, and was gasping for breath. I left to find the nurse who was caring for the patient and this fetus. When I asked her about the fetus, she said that she was so busy with the mother that she didn't have time to wrap and place the fetus in the warmer, and she asked if I would do that for her. Later I found out that the fetus was 22 weeks old, and had undergone a therapeutic abortion because it had been diagnosed with Down's Syndrome. I did wrap the fetus and place him in a warmer and for 2-1/2 hours he maintained a heartbeat, and then finally expired.
The second case involved a couple who had requested a therapeutic abortion for their 20 week fetus with Spina Bifida. My shift started at 11:00 PM, and the patient delivered her fetus about 10 minutes before I took her as a patient. During the time the fetus was alive, the patient kept asking me when the fetus would die. For an hour and 45 minutes the fetus maintained a heartbeat. The parents were frustrated, and obviously not prepared for this long period of time. Since I was the nurse of both the mother and fetus, I held the fetus in my arms until it finally expired.
The third case occurred when a nurse with whom I was working was taking care of a mother waiting to deliver her 16 week Down's Syndrome fetus. Again, I walked into the soiled utility room and the fetus was fully exposed, lying on the baby scale. I went to find the nurse who was caring for this mother and fetus, and she asked if I could help her by measuring and weighing the fetus for the charting and death certificate. When I went back into the soiled utility room, the fetus was moving its arms and legs. I then listened for a heartbeat, and found that the fetus still was alive. I wrapped the fetus and in 45 minutes the fetus finally expired.