UK doctors change age of ‘viability’ to 22 weeks… but only for certain babies

ultrasound, viability, abortion

A review by the British Association of Perinatal Medicine determined that advances in medical care can help babies who were previously believed to be destined to die. In the past, it has been recommended that it was better for 22-week premature babies to not be resuscitated. But thanks to improved nutrition, better infection control, and well-trained medical staff, this is no longer the case.

Some babies born as young as 22 weeks — not 24 — will now receive medical care in the UK, as doctors in the nation have decided to lower the age of viability for premature babies — but only those who meet certain requirements.

Babies born at 22 weeks will be treated if they meet the following markers: 1) if they are female, 2) if they are a single birth as opposed to multiple, 3) if they are of a normal weight for their age, and 4) if they are born closer to the end of 22 weeks. While it seems each of these factors increases a baby’s chances of survival, the new rule should include all 22-week babies rather than discriminate against boys or babies born at 22 weeks and three days vs. 22 weeks and four days. Babies who don’t fit this mold will be given palliative care to keep them comfortable as they die.

“It is possible, in 2019, to save babies who could not previously have survived,” said Professor Dominic Wilkinson of the University of Oxford. “That is fantastic news. But,” he claims, “the very high risks mean that it is not always the right thing to do to provide intensive medical treatment.”

READ: Mom in UK: My twins were born breathing at 22 weeks but doctors wouldn’t save them

According to The Sun, there were 183 live births at 22 weeks in the UK in 2016. About 23 percent of those babies were given medical assistance and 35 percent of those survived. Sophie Dennis’ daughter Autumn was one of the babies UK doctors refused to help when she was born in 2017 at 22 weeks and six days gestation. Dennis begged the doctors to help, even telling them of other babies who had survived after being born at 22 weeks, but it didn’t change their minds. They told her that her baby girl would be “poorly and disabled.” Had the new changes been in place then, doctors would likely have assisted Dennis’ baby.

“I remember I didn’t want to push and I’m crying and screaming and praying to God to help my child,” recalled Sophie. “They placed her on me. She’s there and I remember very clearly her moving her arms and legs. […] She was gasping for air. She did at least six big gasps. She needed help. She needed them to help her and they did nothing.”

Since the loss of baby Autumn, Dennis has been working to help get the age of viability moved to 22 weeks in her daughter’s name. She is petitioning Parliament to implement change and worked hard to raise awareness for the rights of these babies. She celebrated the new guidances issued but also called it a “postcode lottery on your babies life.”

As for twins, Hunter and Darcy Ridley were born at 22 weeks gestation and are now thirteen. Others weren’t as lucky to have doctors who cared to try to save them. They were allowed to die after their birth despite the fact that they were breathing, like Elliot and Emery featured in the video below:


Despite the fact that the UK is changing what they consider to be “viability,” abortions are still allowed there up to 23 weeks and six days of pregnancy. There is no gestational limit on abortion for babies who face a prenatal diagnosis or if the mother’s life is in danger. In neither of these cases is abortion — the direct and intentional killing of a child in the womb — actually medically necessary. With this new rule, the babies they are now going to save when they are born at 22 weeks could also be legally killed… proving that society still views some lives as more valuable than others.

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