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News of the Day ... In Perspective

3/24/2007

Survival of 21-week baby prompts calls for abortion restrictions in Britain

Amillia Sonja Taylor made headlines worldwide as the world’s most premature baby to have survived. She weighed only 4 ounces when born by Caesarian section at Baptist Children’s Hospital in Kendall, Florida.

Miami obstetrician Guillermo Lievano thought she was two weeks older when he decided to schedule the Caesarian. Otherwise, “my focus would have shifted to simply preserving the mother’s health, because I knew babies that small don’t survive,” he said.

Later review of the in vitro fertilization records established the gestational age with certainty (MSNBC.com 2/23/07).

Amillia weighed 4 pounds 17 weeks after birth. With proper care, her physicians expect her to be able to live a normal life (McClatchy Newspapers 2/19/07).

Amillia’s story prompted more calls for Britain to restrict late-term abortions. A bill to lower the limits from 24 to 21 weeks failed in Parliament last year (LifeNews.com 2/25/07).

Britain has permitted unlimited abortions through the 24th week of pregnancy since 1967. About 180,000 abortions are done annually in England and Wales, as many as 2,000 between the 22nd and 24th weeks.

According to a poll conducted by Communicate Research for Choose Life, 53 percent of respondents said they agreed that the number of abortions was too high and should be reduced; 29 percent disagreed; 18 percent said they didn’t know or declined to answer (Angus Reid Global Scan 6/24/06, cited in Population Research Institute Review, July-August 2006).

British fertility was 1.87 children per woman in 2005, with the mean age at first birth being 27.2 years.

In the European Union as a whole, fertility is 1.5, well below the replacement rate of 2.1. Falling fertility will be largely offset by rising immigration, writes Gideon Rachman. He dismisses certain American prophecies of doom, saying that European population over the next 50 years will simply become “much older and much more diverse” (Financial Times 10/16/06).

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