Viability guidelines calling on doctors to resuscitate premature babies born at 22 weeks have reignited the row over the abortion law.
A review by the British Association of Perinatal Medicine has found that medical advances have increased the survival rate for premature babies and in new guidelines published today, doctors are told they should change their practice and resuscitate babies born as early as 22 weeks.
The Society for the Protection of Unborn Children (SPUC) has highlighted the glaring contradiction between this decision and Westminster politicians imposing an abortion free-for-all on Northern Ireland.
A shocking contradiction at the heart of our health service
SPUC Deputy Chief Executive, John Deighan said:
“The effort now to be made to save the lives of tiny premature babies, born before the standard abortion time limit in Britain, exposes a shocking contradiction at the heart of our health service.
“It is a cruel irony that in the same week that politicians in Westminster imposed an abortion free-for-all in Northern Ireland, medical bodies have issued new guidelines highlighting the growing scientific evidence affirming the humanity of the unborn”.
Growing survival rates for premature babies
Evidence provided by Professor of Neonatal Paediatrics, John Wyatt, shows that a baby born at 23 weeks old has a 50% chance of surviving. His evidence illustrates that 30 years ago, less than 20% of babies born before 28 weeks of gestation survived. However, advances in medical care at the beginning of life have transformed the prospects of survival for premature babies.
Evidence now affirms that 35% of babies born four months premature at 22 weeks old now survive if treated.
John Wyatt’s studies suggest that significant improvements in survival rates can be achieved when maternity and neonatal units provide consistent staffing, resources and treatment policies.