STOPPING ELECTIVE ABORTIONS IN THE 21 TO 28 WEEKS’ (LATE-2ND TRIMESTER) GESTATION PERIOD

Posted on January 23, 2014

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There is considerable momentum in several states and in the U.S. Congress to ban post-20 weeks’ elective abortions.  The rationale for justifying such prohibition relies on medically-based assertions that the infant in the womb at that stage of gestation (i.e. 21 weeks lmp) can feel pain and does exhibit obvious reactions of real responsive feeling (pain) when probed or torn apart.

Such medically-based assertions will no doubt be countered by other medical practitioners’ testimony.

It may be impossible to prove beyond a trace of doubt (say, to members of the Supreme Court at some later date) that a baby at 21 or 22 weeks lmp does, in fact, really experience pain during the D&E abortion procedure.  The D&E in-utero limb-shredding procedure is the only method of elective abortion in the 21 to 28 week late-second-trimester period, because (a) of the maturity and size of the baby, and (b) because the only other method, D&X partial birth abortion, is now federally banned (the Partial Birth Abortion Ban Act of 2003) other than for medically necessary reasons such as the life of the mother being in grave danger.

There IS, however, an additional reason for prohibiting elective abortions in the 21 to 28 weeks’ 2nd-trimester period, supported by medically-backed-up multi-nation research, indisputably proven, that beginning at 22 weeks lmp gestation (20 weks from conception), a quantifiable percentage of babies (over 20%) are in fact viable, and were these babies to be born at that stage they would live out full lives.  The percentage of babies being viable increases rapidly with each passing week during the late second trimester, between the weeks of 22 weeks lmp and 26 weeks lmp (from over 20% to 98%).

The major viability studies documenting extremely premature infant births’ survival rates include: (a) the U.S. NICHD Neonatal Research Network Study (the National Institute of Child Health) conducted at 17 major U.S. university hospitals over a period of 5 years (funded by the Eunice Kennedy Schrtiver National Institute of Child Health & Human Services), covering 4,446 extremely preterm births: (b)  the UK EPICure Neonatal Nationwide Studies of extremely preterm infant births at gestation ages 22 to 25 weeks lmp (the first 1995/96 study encompassed all UK and Ireland, the second 2005/06 study was of all-England): the 2004/05 U.S. study conducted by four major hospitals in Connecticut, led by the University of Connecticut Health Center.

The U.S. NICHD Universities’ Study results (all hospitals were equipped with Neonatal Intensive Care Units -NICUs and trained neonatal staff for extremely preterm births) were as follows: Viability at 22 weeks lmp 21% (22weeks lmp is equivalent to 20 weeks from conception); at 23 weeks lmp 37%; at 24 weeks lmp 56%; at 25 weeks lmp 78%; at 26 weeks lmp 98%; at 27 weeks lmp 100%.

Those states seeking to ban abortions after 20 weeks gestation should bolster their cases by including the fact that it is now proven babies in the womb as early as 22 weeks lmp gestation (20 weeks from conception) are in fact viable–the key words contained in the Roe v. Wade Supreme Court Decision 41 years ago, at a time when it was assumed viability was somewhere in the neighborhood of 28 weeks gestation.  Facts and major studies have proven otherwise.

VIABILITY IS NOT 28 WEEKS, OR 24 WEEKS, BUT NOW PROVEN TO BE AT LEAST 22 WEEKS LMP (20 WEEKS FROM CONCEPTION).  ABORTIONS AFTER 20 WEEKS FOR ELECTIVE REASON SHOULD BE FEDERALLY BANNED.