Aborting the Viable Beyond 23 Weeks
A new study by British researchers finds that almost half of the babies who are born at 23 weeks into the pregnancy survive the premature birth. The results may prompt British lawmakers to move back limits on late-term abortions and could be used to strengthen laws in other countries.
A related article reveals that in England more than 1,200 babies are aborted each year between 22 and 24 weeks of development. Although abortion is legal through-out all nine months of pregnancy if the baby is disabled or if the life of the mother is in danger, killing the unborn for “social reasons” is limited to the first 24 weeks of pregnancy.
The same story quotes the British Pregnancy Advisory Service (BPAS) as asserting the viability of the unborn child doesn't "reduce the number of women in need of late abortions" for social reasons. A spokeswoman stated, "At the end of the day, you still need a service…. For instance, we hear about women who have had a planned pregnancy and then something goes wrong in their relationship and they can't cope on their own."
There are a couple aspects of this story that are significant. The first is that many pro-lifers are tempted to tie the dignity or value of human life to the point of viability. A "viable child" is no more worthy of life than a more immature baby who is unlikely to survive outside the womb. Nevertheless, this is apparently the rationale behind the abortion restriction based upon development.
The second point is that the British Pregnancy Advisory Service is consistent in its belief that children can be aborted for virtually any reason. Viability is meaningless to the "Service". What matters is whether or not the child is wanted and it is this latter condition that establishes the dignity of the person in the eyes of the BPAS.
The example cited above about a "planned pregnancy" displays this twisted view of human dignity in action. A child who is suddenly not wanted due to the changing circumstances of his or her parents loses all right to life and can be killed. From an ethical standpoint, I'm not sure how the BPAS separates the humanity of the born from the unborn.
The benefit of the study, however, is it provides an opportunity to educate the public at large regarding the humanity of the unborn and dignity of human life from the point of conception. Unfortunately, individuals tend to value those who are similar to themselves. Seeing a fully developed child at 20 weeks is stunning to those who have been told a baby before birth is just a slab of flesh or a wart
- Aborting the Viable Beyond 23 Weeks - Jul 25, 2005
To me the viability issue is important when we're talking about the mother's health. If the mother's health or life is seriously in danger and the pregnancy simply must end, it is clear that a fetus 23 weeks or older would be better off being delivered via c-section than aborted. Better to give your child a chance to live than to outright kill him.
Posted by: michelle potter at July 26, 2005 8:46 PM