Dawson MP George Christensen. Picture: Heidi Petith
Dawson MP George Christensen. Picture: Heidi Petith

'These babies are left to gasp for breath until they die'

Queensland's health minister has responded to an MP's proposal that would result in doctors being slapped with a fine and potentially deregistered if they did not intervene when a child was born alive during an abortion.

Dawson MP George Christensen wants to introduce a private member's bill to overturn clinical guidelines in Queensland that state "if (during an abortion) a live birth occurs … do not provide life-sustaining treatment".

Mr Christensen is seeking community support for his Children Born Alive Protection Bill 2021, which is calling for doctors to face "significant financial penalty and probable deregistration" for children born alive, including as a result of terminations.

"In most Australian states, doctors are not required to provide medical assistance to children born alive as a result of an abortion," Mr Christensen's website states.

"These babies are left to gasp for breath until they die.

"They deserve the same rights and medical treatment as any other human being."

In a statement responding to the proposed bill, Health Minister Yvette D'Ath said: "I stand by legislation around terminations the Queensland Parliament passed through a conscience vote."

Queensland Health Minister Yvette D'Ath speaks during Question Time at Parliament House. Picture: NCA NewsWire / Dan Peled
Queensland Health Minister Yvette D'Ath speaks during Question Time at Parliament House. Picture: NCA NewsWire / Dan Peled

Deputy medical director of Marie Stopes Australia Catriona Melville told Guardian Australia abortions beyond the 14-16 week mark were "very, very uncommon" and used the "induced foetal demise" procedure.

Ms Melville said an injection was given before surgery so there was "no chance of any sign of life".

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Queensland laws were recently changed to allow anyone up to 22 weeks pregnant to request a termination, for any reason, without disclosing the reason to a doctor.

Ms Melville said late-term abortions were often required because of lethal foetal anomalies, meaning doctors "wouldn't be providing life sustaining treatment", and that for extremely early pregnancies resuscitation was "not ethical".

Signs of life following a termination of pregnancy does not mean the termination was unsuccessful.

In Queensland, there were 203 live births following a termination of pregnancy between 2005 and 2015.

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