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Truth Through Combat

A Very Young Preemie

Most babies are born at 37 to 40 weeks. Most preemies don’t survive if they’re born under 26 weeks. October 24, however, saw the birth of a preemie at about 22 weeks (Link: http://www.breitbart.com/news/2007/02/19/D8ND737G0.html). This appears to be a record for a surviving preemie. While her chances of long-term survival were very poor, she is in fact still alive and apparently doing well.

The issue of premature babies poses a thorny abortion dilemma. Generally, abortion is legal until the point of viability. This means that once a fetus is past the point at which it can survive outside of the womb, states can begin to impose restrictions on abortion. This means that a very odd dynamic exists in the abortion debate: as technology improves to keep preemies alive at a younger and younger age, the right to 2nd-trimester abortions begins to dissipate (3rd trimester abortions are already largely restricted to those that help preserve the life or health of the mother).

If it’s possible for a 22 week old fetus to survive outside the womb, this means that abortion rights can already be restrained to about 5 months. Should incubation technologies improve much beyond that point, it’s at least theoretically possible that the abortion period will continue to shrink.

Here’s a recent news article on viability and preemies. It gives some background on this issue and asks the question of how far one should go to preserve such young lives: http://www.newsobserver.com/164/story/544300.html.

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Filed under: Bioethics, Uncategorized

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