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Anti-abortion campaigners are lying about survival of babies born before 24 weeks.

(20 Posts)
edam Wed 10-Oct-12 12:18:00

Thought this deserved a wider audience. Essentially, 24 weeks gestation is the limit of viability - sadly for wanted pregnancies, very few babies born before this point are born alive, and almost all die within the first week. And there's been no change in these stats.

Shame our current health secretary has chosen to spread these big fat lies. Perhaps he should check with his own department before opening his bgob in future.

LRDtheFeministDragon Wed 10-Oct-12 12:59:21

That doesn't surprise me.

I used to know someone who lost a much-wanted baby at 22.5 weeks, and it was made much harder by the fact there isn't good knowledge (especially where she is, which is bible-belt America) of how rarely babies born at that age survive. sad

TeaAndHugs Wed 10-Oct-12 13:07:43

Anti-abortion campaigners lie about all kinds of things. From SPUC telling schoolkids that rape rarely causes pregnancy, to Crisis Pregnancy Centre counsellors telling pregnant women that "the risk of getting cancer after abortion is 100%", it seems they'll say whatever they want to manipulate women and get people on their side.

Some babies do survive below 24 weeks, but it's rare and usually only occurs thanks to intensive medical intervention. Even then, the poor kids are often left severely handicapped. From the way anti-abortion folks go on, you'd think that 24-week fetuses are fully formed healthy babies that do nothing but get bigger during the following 3 months. In fact there is a huge amount of physical and mental development during the later stage of pregnancy.

edam Wed 10-Oct-12 13:35:37

LRD, that's terribly sad.

tea, they may well do, that's why it's important to point out the facts...

summerflower Wed 10-Oct-12 14:07:01

I am not sure I really get the argument about viability. Is the reason the limit is set at viability because theoretically the baby could survive outside of the womb?

Obviously, the limit has to be set somewhere, but it seems a bit arbitrary, because (I realise I may get flamed for this, but as a feminist, it increasingly bothers me) if you terminate a pregnancy, you really do ensure that there is no hope of survival (so why argue about survival chances?).

I guess, and I am just trying to think it through, the argument is really whether a woman is seen to have the right to terminate a pregnancy, and (this is where viability comes in) how society decides what is morally acceptable should she choose to do so.

The argument would be that while a foetus is in the womb, it has the chance to develop into a fully formed baby. Whereas abortion to me seems an act of violence against that foetus. I don't see how the viability of the foetus makes any difference. As I said, I expect to be flamed for this, but as a feminist it really bothers me. One of the founding tenets of feminism was surely pacifism.

Surely the arguments should be about the reasons why women seek abortion, going beyond (and not necessarily negating) the fact that they should have a right to do so. How we, as a society, make child-raising and childcare easier to afford/balance with education, employment and other opportunities, reduce the stigma of being a single parent, don't penalise mothers in the workplace, ensure better access to contraception and that men use it (don't pressure women into sex), address the social acceptability of rape, see childrearing as a societal/male responsibility - and so on. It's really interesting to note that, in Soviet Russia, where women had more rights in the workplace and more equality, abortion rates were lower than countries where such things didn't exist.

To reduce the argument to the fact that the foetus would not survive outside the womb just seems to me really reductive and wrong.

edam Wed 10-Oct-12 14:42:33

summer - the health secretary, Jeremy Hunt, is among those who peddle the fib that babies survive if born before 24 weeks and therefore, they say, the time limit for abortion other than for severe medical problems should come down. As a first step to banning it all together, presumably.

I suppose the time limit is there because if you induced labour beyond 24 weeks, you may well end up delivering a live baby.

domesticgodless Wed 10-Oct-12 14:46:38

Where will the viability argument end?

With every 'scientific advance' which means that even one baby born at 20 or 19 or 17 weeks survives outside the womb, will abortion at those stages be banned?

If artificial wombs became available, that would make ALL pregnancies 'viable' from conception.

We would then, according to the viability argument, have to force every woman to carry every pregnancy not prevented by contraception.

Indeed, Republicans want to limit the use of the morning after pill already.

AThingInYourLife Wed 10-Oct-12 14:52:08

The pro-life movement is fundamentally dishonest.

summerflower Wed 10-Oct-12 14:56:16

>>I suppose the time limit is there because if you induced labour beyond 24 weeks, you may well end up delivering a live baby. <<

I hadn't thought of that. But as abortion for medical reasons is legal beyond 24 weeks, and the medical professionals involved presumably make sure that live deliveries are avoided, this can't be the whole reason.

DuelingFanjo Wed 10-Oct-12 15:14:18

Thank you for posting this. It is really very sad when a much wanted baby loses their fight for life after being born so prematurely but I have always felt it was wrong to pit the plight of wanted babies against those foetuses that are not wanted. My son was in special care for a few days and almost all the babies in there were premature and fighting for life. My son was thankfully fine (he was actually overdue) but I often wonder how many of those poor babies who were obviously so wanted had survived.

I can't stand the argument of viability and the way those wanted children and their parents are used to justify taking choice away from people.

Iggly Wed 10-Oct-12 15:15:46

Yes summer, you articulate some thoughts I've had on this.

domesticgodless Wed 10-Oct-12 15:18:15

I should think a live delivery at 24 weeks is unlikely unless the premature baby is placed into immediate intensive care.

I wonder very much in our future of health-insurance-only who on earth is going to pay for this.

In America, given that it is the poor who are not supposed to breed, and yet are also not supposed to have abortions- but also have no health insurance- who pays to 'save' the unwanted babies?

Genuine question.

Viviennemary Wed 10-Oct-12 15:20:37

I did once read an article that said taking the massive dose of hormones in the morning after pill on any kind of regular basis could be damaging to a woman's health. It was a while ago and seemed quite a reasonable article and not against abortion.

PenguindreamsofDraco Wed 10-Oct-12 15:31:59

My son was born at 26w. There were several babies in the unit born between 23 and 24w. They obviously needed a lot of medical interventionand there was no way of knowing what (if any) issues they would have - as was the case with us. But all of them went home. Not one of them died in the unit.

I appreciate this is posted in women's rights but I think it is equally misleading to suggest that babies born before 24w are effectively guaranteed to die (although of course intervention is needed, as is the case up until around the mid 30s) or are guaranteed to have permanent disabilities, because these days that just isn't so.

LonelyCloud Wed 10-Oct-12 15:37:09

24 weeks is called the limit of viability, because that's when a baby has about a 50% chance of survival, if given very good neo-natal care.

It is correct to say that the mortality (death) rate of premature babies has increased since abortion was legalised, although that's happened over a couple of decades rarher than the last few years.

The bit that Jeremy Hunt, and most anti-abortionists, almost invariably fail to mention, is that the morbidity rate (number of babies who survive but with lasting complications / disabilites) hasn't improved nearly as much.

They're quite happy to let everyone think that a baby born at 24 weeks or earlier is no more likely to be disabled (assuming it survives) than a full term baby, which unfortunately isn't the case. Some of these babies will grow up with no signicant health problems, but the odds are stacked against them. From this page on Wikipedia -

A large study on children born between 22 and 25 weeks who were currently at school age found that 46 percent had severe or moderate disabilities such as cerebral palsy, vision or hearing loss and learning problems. 34 percent were mildly disabled and 20 percent had no disabilities, while 12 percent had disabling cerebral palsy.

domesticgodless Wed 10-Oct-12 15:39:04

What if there is no home for the premature baby who has been born due to restrictions on abortion to go to?

With a very high likelihood of mild to severe disability (99% currently), will s/he go into care?

Adoption rates for disabled children are low.

Emphaticmaybe Wed 10-Oct-12 15:47:31

I may be wrong but I thought there would be virtually no chance of a foetus aborted at 24 weeks or beyond being born alive or viable as large doses of anesthetic are injected into the foetus before labour is induced. I would have thought this would be the only humane way to do abortions in the cases where viability is possible.

I am also in agreement about how the stats about viability and outcomes for premature babies are being manipulated to suit the pro-life agenda - it is dishonest. Especially coming from the sections of society who have very little interest in supporting poor families and children - but want you to believe they think every conception is precious. Very hypocritical.

PenguindreamsofDraco Wed 10-Oct-12 15:53:15

Where do you get your 99% figure, Domesticgodless? Lonelycloud's Wikipedia reference suggests 20% have no disabilities at all.

I seem to recall us being told at just on 24w (when it was obvious things were going wrong) that there was a 25% chance of no/minimal problems. That may have been specific to our, excellent, hospital, I don't know.

Emphaticmaybe, my understanding from what we were told was that the heart is stopped in utero with an injection of whatever they use on death row. So the baby/foetus is not born alive. I don't think the same applies in the US.

domesticgodless Wed 10-Oct-12 20:46:52

I'm not sure actually penguin- I teach medical law and it comes
From one of our academic sources! I'll check it out

LRDtheFeministDragon Wed 10-Oct-12 20:50:42

edam - yes, it was terribly sad. One reason why spreading false information is damaging to everyone, not just pro-choice people, IMO.

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