Friday, 30 November 2007

Vatican talks of 'eugenics culture’ after abortion of wrong twin

Italian prosecutors have opened an investigation into a botched selective abortion that the Vatican has described as the result of a “culture of perfection” resembling Nazi eugenics.

The deeply Catholic country was embroiled in a bitter ethical dispute yesterday after it emerged that a surgeon had accidentally terminated a healthy foetus instead of its twin with Down’s syndrome. The operation – on a 38-year-old woman 18 weeks into her pregnancy – was performed at the San Paolo hospital in Milan in June but has only now come to light. The foetus with Down’s syndrome was also aborted subsequently.

The revelation has reignited the debate in Italy over abortion, which was legalised only in 1978. The law allows terminations of healthy foetuses up to the 90th day of pregnancy, though abortions can be performed at a later stage if there is a risk to the life of the mother or the foetus is malformed.

Anna Maria Marconi, the gynaecologist who carried out the Milan abortion, said that the woman – who has not been named – requested the operation after an amniocentesis test.

Professor Marconi said that her conscience was clear. The foetuses, which had been identical, had changed positions in the womb between the last scan and the operation, an “act of fate that could not have been foreseen”, she said. The professor was backed by the hospital authorities. Read more
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