Words, propaganda and head of a newborn babe, Part 1
It is possible that this was not a crime, but it was most certainly not a "botched surgery," as some are so anxious to declare.
The tram-car went over Berlioz, and a round dark object was thrown up the cobbled slope below the fence of the Patriarch's Walk. Having rolled back down this slope, it went bouncing along the cobblestones of the street. It was the severed head of Berlioz.
This is decapitation, the accidental severing of a human head.
The men are specifically said to have praised the actions of Chechen 18-year-old refugee Abdullakh Anzorov, who beheaded French teacher Samuel Paty in the suburbs of Paris in October of 2020 after the teacher had shown cartoons of the Islamic prophet Mohammed to his class.
This is beheading, the deliberate severing of a human head.
In “Pakistan: Newborn baby beheaded, head left inside Hindu woman’s womb by government hospital staff,” published in Jihad Watch on 21 June 2022, Robert Spencer describes the severing of a baby’s head during birth in Sindh, Pakistan as a “beheading.” The word means that the severing of the baby’s head during delivery had been deliberate.
This raises two questions: firstly, was the severing of the head accidental or deliberate? If accidental, then it was a tragic mishap that occurred during delivery. If the severing was deliberate, then the baby was murdered during birth. Secondly, did Spencer intend to communicate, directly or by implication, that the baby had been murdered, was he simply less careful in his choice of words than he needed to be, or was there some other reason for describing the severing as a beheading? It seems to me that these two questions must first be answered, in the order laid out, before we can proceed to say anything more about either those who performed the delivery, or the one who reported it.
Neither of these questions appeared to cross the minds of Harris Sultan and Nuriyah Khan, when they picked up the headline on Twitter and launched a tirade against Spencer on Sultan’s YouTube channel on 12 July 2022. They immediately assumed, not from whether Spencer had said “beheaded” or “decapitated,” but from his conjecture, “Did this have anything to do with the fact that this woman is Hindu? The possibility cannot be discounted. The life of a non-Muslim is worth less than that of a Muslim, according to Islamic law,” that Spencer was casting aspersions on Islam. The duo is upset that Spencer led his audience to link the severing of the baby’s head to Muslim ritual beheading, a link that, we must infer, the audience would never have made themselves. What possible reason would anyone have to make such a link? This simply confirms for them, Spencer’s bigotry towards Muslims.
Readers need to be aware that Harris Sultan has been waging a vendetta against Robert Spencer for at least a month, and that he needs to bolster his claims of Spencer’s alleged bigotry with every scrap of evidence, real or imagined, that he can press to this end. The ex-Muslim Muslims on social media are doing what Muslims always do, they hear and obey. Sultan is intentionally debilitating himself, preferring the ephemeral security of the ex-Muslim echo-chamber over truth. The high price of such action still escapes him.
Was the severing of the baby’s head accidental or deliberate?
For their claim of bigotry to stand, the severing the head will have had to be accidental, in other words, a decapitation. They do not challenge Spencer’s use of the word “beheading.” Instead, they make the claim that such “botched surgeries ...happen every day” in Third World countries, and rural Tharparkar district in Pakistan is no exception. Without once examining any of the evidence before her, Nuriyah Khan simply repeats what Sultan said: “This is something that, literally, again, could have happened in any Third World country with a lack of resources in a poverty stricken nation. It really could.” In Sultan’s mind, Spencer said, Ah, because the woman was a Hindu, that's why it was a surgery gone wrong. “Those kinds of surgeries go wrong every day with Muslim women too in a Third World countries like Pakistan.”
I could find only one article in English pertaining specifically to such incidents in a Third World context. In the article, from Egypt, Amit Agrawal and others say, “Blunt trauma to the head and neck of a newborn during delivery leading to decapitation is a rare and unfortunate event,” while in an Israeli article, Jehuda Hiss and his colleagues write, “Blunt trauma to the head and neck of a newborn during delivery process is a rare event. We report a peculiar case of decapitation of a live fetus.” From Croatia, Professor Dubravko Habek writes, “Two similar papers on traumatic intrapartum decapitation of a live fetus have been published in forensic journal as the only such specimens in the literature,” (all emphases are mine). I think we can confidently dispense with the hyper-confident notion that “This kind of botched up surgery happens in every Third World country every day.”
Crucial to note for considering the Pakistani case, is that in all instances of such trauma, the birth is normal, that is to say, the baby is moving, or ready to move, into the birth canal, head first. Furthermore, such severing of the head during birth is reported to occur in the event of the baby’s shoulder catching against the edge of the mother’s pelvic bone during an otherwise normal birth, when the head has already passed the edge of the pelvic bone and is in the birth canal. If the shoulder cannot be freed by manipulation of the mother's belly, then a suction device can be attached to the baby’s head while still inside the birth canal, by means of which medical personnel may attempt to extract the baby. However, if the baby does not move because its shoulder is jammed, then applying such extraction can sever the baby’s head, leaving the head outside and its headless torso still inside the womb.
The Rural Health Centre in Tharparkar district, Sindh, where the incident took place, is one of 315 in the district. They are notorious for their poor standards, while “a significant number of the facilities were not functional.” It is therefor unlikely that technical equipment will have been available for use in the delivery, making it unlikely that the severing of the head resulted from a medically-recognised delivery accident relating to the use of such equipment.
However, Spencer’s source also describes, which he quotes verbatim: “the staff …cut off a newborn baby’s head.” If true, then this is pretty unambiguous. They did not sever the head, which could mean either accidentally, or deliberately, they cut it off. The staff must have known exactly what they were doing. In order to have, “left the severed head in the mother’s womb,” also quoted verbatim (my emphasis), the baby will have had to have been born breech (feet or bottom first). None of the reports I managed to read say what, exactly, this birth complication was. It is possible, in the case of a severely premature breech foetus, with the head still much larger relative to the body than at full term, and the mother's cervix constricted, that the head can be severed in a mishandled birth. But in this case, the head is not "cut off." According to Harris Sultan, the birth complication was that there was no female gynaecologist available!
Assuming that the complication was a breech birth, this is not in and of itself life-threatening and babies successfully pass through the birth canal this way, especially with help from staff. Given the poor standards of these Tharparkar centres, it is possible that no one realised that the baby was breech, or no attempt was made to turn the baby so it would enter the birth canal head first, or the attempt failed. Whatever the case, the head cannot be "cut off" in the act of turning the baby, although trauma can result from improper handling. If the baby's body emerges before the head does, then the birth canal is sufficiently stretched for the head to simply follow along without obstruction. Even most of the umbilical cord would still be in the womb, reducing the chance of strangulation or other umbilical cord complications that would necessitate emergency cutting. In other words, by the time the baby’s body has emerged, there is no reason to cut anything, except the umbilical cord already outside the mother.
The head of the gynaecology unit at Jamshoro’s Liaquat University of Medical and Health Sciences is reported to have said that, “the baby’s head was entrapped inside and the mother’s uterus had been ruptured and they had to open up her abdomen surgically and take out the head to save her life.” We do not know what else he said, but if this is all he said about the mother's condition, then he would have to explain how the body emerged without the head.
Uterine (womb) rupture is the most dangerous birth complication and, thankfully, extremely rare. Dr Kavitha and others write in an Indian medical journal, "A uterine rupture is a life-threatening event for the mother and the baby." About the uterine rupture cases they researched in Khammam district, Telangana state, India, the doctors observe:
Among the women in this series, the lack of any antenatal care is strikingly frequent – 100%. However, this lack of antenatal care probably reflects the lack of access to obstetric care in general. It is the lack of access to emergency obstetric care, in particular emergency cesarean section and blood transfusion, that is the problem in many developing countries.
While Khammam is not an exact match for Tharparkar, the former being an agricultural area and the latter a desert, Khammam's poverty nonetheless places its rural population in associable vulnerability. The Indian government identified the district as one of 250 qualifying for assistance under its Backward Regions Grant Fund Programme, launched in 2006. The women in the Khammam study suffer exactly the same lack of antenatal care as do their counterparts in rural Tharparkar. In India, though, doctors are directly involved at all levels in reducing the vulnerability of its rural women, even to a rare eventuality such as uterine rupture.
But uterine rupture, a recognised antenatal medical condition, did not occur in this case. What occurred, it would seem, is that the woman gave birth, almost certainly breech. The baby's head was cut off, either while still in the birth canal or outside. Either way, the body will have had to be out of the way before the head could be cut off. The head would then have had to be shoved back up the birth canal and forced into her womb, causing the rupture. The womb ruptured after the birth. Had the rupture occurred before birth, she would have had to have an emergency Caesarian section. She would certainly not have survived transportation to two further facilities and the time wasted in incompetence and possibly negligence. It is possible that this was not a crime, but it was most certainly not a "botched surgery," as some are so anxious to declare.
One would be inclined to assume that the Rural Health Centre staff who failed to deliver the baby would have been traumatised by what had happened, had it been an accident. However, “Apparently, some members of the staff took her photos on a mobile phone in the gynaecology ward and shared those pictures with different WhatsApp groups.” It is hard to square such behaviour with an accident. The fact that the Director-General of Sindh Health Services had, only after the story went viral on social media, ordered an inquiry already speaks volumes. Harris Sultan did not speak of it.
- Mikhail Bulgakov. The Master and Margarita, Penguin Books, 1997.
- How Robert Spencer relates everything with Islam, Harris Sultan, YouTube, 11 July 2022 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uXv63tWndEs
- Bible Burnt by Hindu Fundamentalists in India ft. Robert Spencer, Harris Sultan, YouTube, 15 July 2022 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YFf70S0WGZc
- Amit Agrawal, et al., “Accidental Decapitation During Delivery,” Letter to the editor, Egyptian Journal of Forensic Sciences, 4 February 2014 www.ejfs.org
- Jehuda Hiss, Tzipi Kahana, Irad Burshtein, “Accidental fetal decapitation: a case of medical and ethical mishap,” Am J Forensic Med Pathol. 2011 Sep;32(3):245-7.
- Dubravko Habek, “Intrapartal fetal decapitation after shoulder dystocia – a forensically acceptable or unacceptable complication?” in Journal of Perinatal Medicine https://doi.org/10.1515/jpm-2021-0638
- 1st Situation Analysis Survey -Tharparkar, March 2014, HANDS/UN-OCHA, p10. https://docslib.org/doc/603910/tharparkar-calamity-2014
- Clare Dyer, "Obstetrician who delivered decapitated baby is cleared of wrongdoing by tribunal," theBMJ, BMJ 2018;361:k2506
- Kavitha B, Prabhakar GC, Shaivalini K., "Uterine rupture: A catastrophic obstetric emergency." J NTR Univ Health Sci2017;6:251-4.
- Telangana state, incidentally, is where police arrested leading terrorists in a brewing nationwide Muslim insurrection plan https://www.opindia.com/2022/07/telangana-police-nab-3-pfi-terrorists-for-running-radicalisation-weapons-training-camps/