Calls to lower the abortion time limit because a third of babies born at 23 weeks now survive
by Steve Doughty, Mailonline:
The number of babies who survive premature birth at 23 weeks has increased to a record one in three, official figures revealed yesterday.
The success treating babies who would until recently have been considered unlikely to live led to demands for a reduction in the limits set by abortion laws.
The increased survival rates suggest the law – which can permit abortion at up to 24 weeks – allows routine termination of hundreds of foetuses capable of a viable life.
The 23-week survival rate in England and Wales was 23 per cent in 2010 and fell to 20 per cent in 2011, but has since risen steadily.
Now child mortality figures from the Office for National Statistics show that in 2014 – the latest year for which data is available – 33 per cent of babies born at 23 weeks reached their first birthday. The chances of life for babies born at 24 weeks – on the legal limit for abortion – have also risen fast.
The ONS said 62 per cent born at this point in a pregnancy lived for at least a year. In 2010, just over half of babies born at 24 weeks reached their first birthday.
The new figures were hailed as a major success for medical staff and midwives and advances in technology and treatment. However, they come as the pro-choice lobby pushes for the removal of criminal sanctions against unlawful abortion, in effect abolishing the 24-week limit.