The Nation Is About to Debate Late-Term Abortions ➠ Where Does Your State Stand?
As Congress prepares to resume a debate over whether late-term abortions should be allowed in the U.S., a groundbreaking new study finds that infants are able to survive outside the womb earlier on in a pregnancy than the medical community once thought.
The study, which examined thousands of premature infants, may bolster a national effort by the pro-life community to ban late-term abortions nationwide.
“The latest science demonstrates the ability of very premature babies to survive and even thrive, ever earlier in development,” said Dr. David Prentice, vice president and research director of the Charlotte Lozier Institute–the SBA List’s education and research arm.
Moreover, this study emphasizes that when we intervene and care for them, they survive in even greater numbers and at ages–even at 20 weeks post-fertilization–when doctors and the courts previously considered them not ‘viable.’
The study, published in the The New England Journal of Medicine, showed that with medical treatment, about 23 percent of infants born at 22 weeks survived. One in three of those survivors face serious impairments, such as blindness or deafness.
One in three babies born at 23 weeks were also able to survive, with half of those children surviving without serious problems.
The medical community generally cites 24 weeks as the viable age in which a fetus is able to survive outside the womb.
Now, in the wake of this research, that consensus is being questioned, invigorating the debate over whether women should be allowed, under the law, to have a late-term abortion.
State Limits on Late-Term Abortions
The U.S. is one of only seven developed countries in which late-term abortions after 20 weeks (five months) are allowed, according to a report from the Charlotte Lozier Institute.
Late-term abortions performed after 20 weeks, when not done by induction of labor (which leads to fetal death due to prematurity), are most commonly performed by dilation and evacuation procedures, which often involve removing the fetus with forceps or other instruments.
In 2013, a Congressional report found that some 11,000 abortions take place each year at 20 weeks or more after fertilization.
Despite there being no national law banning the procedure, a dozen states have taken it upon themselves to limit abortion at 18-20 weeks—Alabama, Arkansas, Indiana, Kansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, North Dakota, Nebraska, Oklahoma, Texas, and West Virginia.
Another 11 states—Florida, Iowa, Massachusetts, Michigan, Nevada, New York, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, South Dakota, Rhode Island, and Virginia—limit abortions after the 20-week mark.
But those advocating for the bill, like Dr. Prentice of the Charlotte Lozier Institute, say it’s the unborn children who need protecting.
As medical science continues to show the humanity of babies still in the womb, it changes hearts and minds, and influences laws to protect the youngest and most vulnerable among us. More