Over the weekend, Live Action, a non-profit organization devoted to pro-life causes, released an undercover video showing an abortion counselor telling a woman how a baby, if born live, would allegedly be terminated. On Monday, a second video was released by the activist group — this time from a clinic in Washington, D.C. — showing an abortion doctor seeming saying he would not provide intensive life-saving assistance to a baby born alive before coming to term.
Part of Live Action’s Inhumane series, an undercover investigator who is 24 weeks pregnant went into the clinic and secretly filmed a conversation with Dr. Cesare Santangelo. While the medical professional noted that his intention is to remove the pregnancy “intact,” he noted that this doesn’t always happen. Additionally, he described the process and also made some curious comments about potentially declining to use life-saving measures, should the baby be born alive.
“I cut the umbilical cord first, wait for that to expire, and then we do it that way,” said Santangelo. “So hopefully…the fetus will expire first and then we do the pregnancy termination that way.”
As for abortion survival, the doctor’s responses are likely to raise eyebrows among pro-life advocates. When asked by the Live Action investigator what would happen if the baby lives through the birth, he noted that odds are that the child would die if born at the 24-week period.
“Technically — you know, legally we would be obligated to help it, you know, to survive,” continued Santangelo. “But, you know, it probably wouldn’t. It’s all in how vigorously you do things to help a fetus survive at this point…”
His subsequent comments about the “vigorous” nature of saving the child, though, will likely cause the most angst. Rather than employing all life-saving measures, according to video of the exchange, the doctor said that his clinic would do less than what is needed to give the child a chance at survival. Here’s how Santangelo described how this sort of situation would be handled:
“Let’s say you went into labor, the membranes ruptured, and you delivered before we got to the termination part of the procedure here, you know? Then we would do things — we would — we would not help it. We wouldn’t intubate. … It would be, you know, uh, a person, a terminal person in the hospital, let’s say, that had cancer, you know? You wouldn’t do any extra procedures to help that person survive. Like ‘do not resuscitate’ orders. We would do the same things here.”
Watch the video, below:
Live Action maintains that the clinic is in violation of federal law and its founder, Lila Rose, presents her arguments in a press release announcing the video.
In the past, TheBlaze has explored the journalistic standards and ethics surrounding undercover videos. The central question is: Is it ever permissible to lie to get the truth? While some would quickly answer affirmatively, it’s a challenging dynamic — and one that deserves scrutiny.
Experts have a variety of opinions, but the general consensus is that, unless deceit is the only option to retrieving information of monumental importance to the public, lying to obtain it is not ethical journalistic practice. There are, of course, differing ideas on how this dynamic unfolds. In 2011, Fred Barnes of The Weekly Standard told TheBlaze that these rules do not apply to those outside of media.
“It’s dishonest for anyone in journalism to pretend to be someone they’re not. This rule doesn’t apply to folks outside the profession,” he said at the time.
But not everyone agrees with this assessment. Poynter has developed a list of standards for when it is — and is not — appropriate to use undercover tactics. And read more about TheBlaze’s exploration of undercover journalistic standards here.