Premature babies and abortion up to birth

A French study published recently in the British Medical Journal has shown the survival rate of premature babies has increased over the last 20 years.

The research, which looked at babies born between 22 and 34 weeks gestation, also demonstrated that premature babies born in recent years are less likely to have moderate or severe disabilities compared to those born in the mid-1990s.

This is not the first study showing that premature birth survival rates are on the rise.

In February this year, an American study published in the New England Journal of Medicine, established that more babies born extremely prematurely were surviving without neurological problems.

Looking at babies born between 22 and 24 weeks, the American researchers found that 36% of prem babies born between 2008 and 2011 had survived, compared to only 30% born between 2000 and 2003. Babies surviving without neurological impairment also rose by 4% over the same decade.

The studies bring promise for families who find themselves in the worrying position of a baby arriving early, but the question also has serious implications for the abortion debate.

Artificial wombs

Recently, scientists announced that they successfully gestated premature lambs in “biobags” filled with laboratory-made amniotic fluid. The Anscombe Bioethics Centre offered a very good analysis on the question of artificial wombs and its potential impact on the abortion debate, in the Catholic Herald last week.

The rapidity of scientific progress in this area is staggering, and the studies highlighting the moving threshold of viability are now overwhelming. The medical establishment are doing more than ever to keep the ‘wanted’ unborn child alive.

Barbaric and gruesome

This makes the abortion lobby’s cry for decriminalisation and abortion up to birth more barbaric and gruesome than ever before. Science is not on their side. They are calling for the destruction of children who everyone knows could survive on their own.

Viability as the marker for the abortion time limit has long been an arbitrary one, particularly since the age of viability varies according to location and access to medical treatment. If you were born prematurely in the developing world, your chances of being ‘viable’ are much less than if you were born at The Portland Hospital – yet this has absolutely no bearing on the moral worth of that child.

Samuel Armas

In school talks, when discussing viability, we often show this image of Samuel Armas who had spina bifida and was operated on in the womb at 21 weeks.

This photo of Samuel was shared all around the world. As the surgeon, Dr Joseph Bruner, was operating, little Samuel reached out his hand and grabbed onto Dr Bruner’s finger.

Students already find it difficult to believe that Samuel could still have been aborted for another three weeks if he was healthy, or in his case, given the fact that he had spina bifida, he could have been aborted up until the day his Mum was due to deliver.

“A lovely little person”

Recently, on Loose Women, TV host Gloria Hunniford poignantly told BPAS CEO Ann Furedi, “you can never convince me that (24-week unborn child)… is not a lovely little person”.

This is the problem with the pro-choice lobby’s attempt to push for abortion up to birth. By focusing on emotional cases, they are asking the general public to throw reason out of the window, and everything they know about the unborn child in its latest stages of development. And as recent polling shows, and Gloria Hunniford’s reaction demonstrates, the public ain’t buying it.


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