ROSSANO, ITALY -- A baby who survived nearly two days before dying in an Italian hospital was aborted only because he had a cleft lip and palate.
Scans of the boy, who was at 22 weeks gestation, had shown the conditions that can be corrected by surgery, but his mother chose to abort him in a hospital in her hometown of Rossano in southern Italy, the Telegraph in London reported. The 11-ounce baby survived the April 24 abortion, but doctors left him to die.
The hospital's Roman Catholic chaplain, Antonio Martello, discovered the boy still alive the next day, about 20 hours after the abortion, according to the Telegraph. The chaplain was praying over the infant and noticed movement under the sheet that was covering the body, the Catholic News Agency reported. Martello informed doctors, who quickly had the child transferred to a neo-natal unit at a hospital in a nearby town. The boy died April 26.
The Italian Ministry of Health issued a statement, noting, "If the news turns out to be true, we are dealing with a very grave case of ... abandonment of a premature newborn, probably also with some form of handicap: an act which is contrary to the sense of human piety and to any medical practice."
Officials are seeking to determine if the death is a homicide, manslaughter or other illegal act, the Telegraph and CNN International reported.
The region's Catholic archbishop, Santo Marciano, said the death should cause society "to reflect on the tragic character of abortion, in so far as it is the suppression of a human being, and in this case, on the illicit character of the definition 'therapeutic.'"
"It also invites us to consider with what ease a person who is seriously malformed and simply undesired is treated inhumanly," Marciano told L'Osservatore Romano, the Vatican newspaper, the Telegraph reported.
The archbishop, over Vatican Radio, said, "I define all this as barbaric," adding, "I believe that non-Christians might also be in agreement on this."