Why the “Stay at 24 Weeks” Argument is Tenuous

You may have seen the news stories this morning claiming that there has been no real change in pre 24 week foetus viability in the last few years. This has been spun as a reason not to change the limit on abortions when an amendment is presented very soon as part of the passage of the Embryology Bill.

This argument is specious and easy to demonstrate as misleading. If I may?


Only last year it was widely reported that one in thirty foetuses were born alive when aborted. What you need to understand about that survey is that it was done on over 3,000 children aborted because of foetal abnormality. That means that the foetuses being aborted were already ill, and also covered a large range of ages, not just in the debated 20 to 24 weeks. Of all those children, 1 in 30 were born alive, but not supported in their life (i.e. left to die).

That is phenomenally great news. If the figures are 1 in 30 for abnormal foetuses across the whole age range, what might they be like for healthy foetuses after 20 weeks?

The research has been done. Only last week the Telegraph reported a study that looked at survival rates in that crucial age range – 20 to 24 weeks. The Department of Health’s own data, shows that of 435 pre 24 week births, 52 of those children survived, some a year and beyond (which is essentially proper life). That’s a rate of 11.5%, almost 4 times that claimed by the study this morning. The difference of course is that the Department of Health’s figures look at all children, especially the healthy children who mothers are currently permitted to murder after 20 weeks for social reasons.

The survival rate increases dramatically as you go through the weeks. At 22 weeks over 5% live beyond a year, at 23 weeks 15.5% and at 24 weeks a staggering 41.8% live well beyond their first birthday.

Some researchers claim that the rates can be even higher.

John Wyatt, a University College London professor and a member of the anti-abortion Christian Medical Fellowship, has claimed that survival rates are as high as 42 per cent at 23 weeks and 72 per cent at 24 weeks’ gestation.

And of course, all these survival rates are based on emergency births pre-term. Nadine Dorries comments:

"Even more viable babies are being aborted than these figures would suggest. If you go into labour at 22 weeks, there is something wrong with you or your baby. Most babies aborted at 22 weeks are healthy, so their survival chances would be even higher."

And these are the children that Dawn Primarola still wants to be allowed to be murdered.

This is one case where I will let my rhetoric be as violent as possible, becuase it is in defence of the most violent things being done to the most innocent and undefended – unwanted human babies.

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