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Premature baby died at Medway Maritime Hospital after illegal abortion attempt

By Amy Nickalls

A premature baby died at Medway Maritime Hospital after her mother attempted to abort her.

The 19-year-old, who is thought to have given a false name to hospital staff, gave birth to the baby at 20 weeks into her pregnancy.

She arrived at hospital where doctors decided it was in the mother’s best interest to medically induce labour because she was suffering from a trauma-related infection.

The baby died a few hours later.

Medway Maritime Hospital

Medway Maritime Hospital

Police carried out inquiries but decided it was not in the public interest to arrest the woman, or her male friend who accompanied her to the hospital and is believed to be the father, despite their efforts to abort the baby illegally.

An inquest was held at the Archbishop’s Palace in Maidstone.

Assistant Coroner Ian Wade QC said: “This is an inquest about a very, very tiny infant and not about anything else.

“The baby could have had no concept of life or realisation of what happened which perhaps gives us some comfort in these circumstances.”

The mother went to hospital on August 23, 2016.

She had an infection in her uterus and the decision was made to give her a drug to begin contractions.

"The circumstances surrounding the incident and the extreme vulnerability of the parents meant it was not in the public interest to prosecute" - Detective Inspector Ed Ruffle

Midwives believed the baby was between 20 and 24 weeks old. The pathologist later determined the age was 20 weeks.

It was originally thought the baby was stillborn but midwives found a heartbeat.

Due to how early the baby was born, hospital staff were unable to intervene for legal reasons, so a midwife sat with her until she died a few hours later.

Police officers who visited the mother’s flat found evidence that an attempt at an illegal abortion had been carried out.

The court heard the mother had tried to have a legal abortion on two occasions but was told she needed a GP referral or to pay for it privately.

DI Ed Ruffle, who led the team investigating the death, said: “The circumstances surrounding the incident and the extreme vulnerability of the parents meant it was not in the public interest to prosecute.

“She was one of the most vulnerable women I have ever met.

"She’d been in foster system from a very young age and was abused by a family member.

"She’s had mental health difficulties which has led her to self-harming.”

DI Ruffle continued: “They both agreed beforehand they did not want this baby and decided how to do it.

"The mother and father knew they couldn’t be parents and didn’t have the facilities to cope.”

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