Human Rights

Mom of 23-week preemie wants United Kingdom abortion laws changed

preemie, premature, newborn, abortion, abortion survivors, trisomy 18, premature

A woman whose son was born at premature 23 weeks is calling for a change in the United Kingdom, where abortion is currently legal for most reasons through 24 weeks. It is also legal until birth if the preborn child is diagnosed with a disability.

The law reflects the country’s “viability” standard when it considers that premature babies may be able to survive outside the womb. But new mom Syma Dawson sees the flaw in such a law after her son, Harrison, was born prematurely at 23 weeks.

“He weighed 575g (1 lb 4 oz) at birth, but dropped to 420g (14.8 oz) the following week,” Dawson wrote in the Scottish Daily Mail. “After going through what we did, I agree the abortion threshold of 24 weeks needs to be revised.”

Syma said that when Harrison was born, doctors initially indicated that they had done all they could. It was only after her husband, Seamus, begged doctors to help their child that the baby was brought to neonatal intensive care so he could receive medical treatment. Harrison underwent an extended period of time in the hospital where he faced various medical challenges, yet persevered despite the odds. He recently celebrated his first birthday.

“Now, he no longer needs oxygen and I am happy to see my little boy smile,” Syma writes.


READ: Premature baby girl born at 22 weeks celebrates first birthday

Little Harrison is among a growing number of babies who are surviving and thriving before the 24-week time period. The youngest baby ever to survive was born at 21 weeks. Despite astonishing medical advancements, many parents still have to fight for treatment for their premature children.

Recently, another British mother spoke out, thanking doctors who were willing to give her daughter, born at 23 weeks, a chance at life. “Bonnie came out and cried. Because she cried, they said she showed a fight for life, so they did and pushed for her and she’s here today,” explained Bonnie’s mother, Rachel.

But parents shouldn’t have to pray and hope that they get doctors who are willing to provide necessary life-saving care to their premature children — that care should be standard. The Dawson family was blessed with doctors willing to help them after Seamus begged for their intervention, but not every family has been so lucky. Other families have spoken out after their infants were not given any treatment at all, simply because they were born before 24 weeks.

No child should be denied treatment because of an arbitrary standard.

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