A mother whose baby was stillborn at 25 weeks is campaigning for new legal rights.
Laura Gallazzi was 25 weeks pregnant when she unexpectedly went into labour in 2014. She was treated at Ninewells Hospital in Dundee. Despite the fact that her baby was in a breech position, Laura’s doctor proceeded with a natural birth, which meant that her son, Steven, was decapitated. Laura is fighting for legal rights for stillborn babies so that parents can pursue legal proceedings following the loss of their children.
Stillbirth affects around 1 out of every 200 births in the UK and is defined by a baby being born dead after 24 weeks. Prior to the 24-week mark, the loss is known as a miscarriage.
Laura launched a petition to enable parents of stillborn children to access additional legal rights after going through the trauma of losing Steven. The petition now has almost 10,000 signatures, which means that it will be debated by MPs if the count exceeds 10,000.
Laura’s aim is to change the law so that babies over the age of 24 weeks automatically have legal rights. At present, according to UK law, babies do not have legal rights until they have drawn breath independently. Steven was unable to breathe and therefore had no legal rights.
Steven’s tragic and traumatic death was investigated and a medical tribunal concluded that the consultant should have recommended a Caesarean section rather than a vaginal birth. The panel suggested that the doctor made a series of decisions, which resulted in the baby being decapitated. She had worked for almost 24 hours when she was called into the hospital to assist. A second tribunal ruled that she was fit to return to work.
A separate investigation by the procurator fiscal found that there was insufficient evidence for Steven’s mother to pursue further action.
Speaking to presenters on BBC Radio Scotland, Laura said that the experience could have been less distressing if her son had a legal identity and had been classed as a person. She believes that the investigations would have been more rigorous and said that the legal system is letting people like her and the children they have lost down.
Several years later, nobody has been held accountable for Steven’s tragic death despite the fact that the death certificate states the cause of death was a traumatic delivery, Laura explained. A pathologist at the hospital claimed that the baby could have been saved if a Caesarean section had been carried out.
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