Doctors initially told Cortney and Peyton Noland that there was no chance their baby girl would survive.
Willow was born after just 22 weeks in the womb, earlier than the abortion cut-off in many states. She weighed 1 pound, 5 ounces when she was born – four months before her due date, the Columbus Dispatch reports.
But the little Ohio girl survived, defying doctors’ concerns about death and severe disabilities. Willow is 20 months old now, and her parents said doctors no longer believe she will have disabilities or significant delays in her development.
Her mother told the newspaper:
“It took her a few months of catching up, and then spring hit and she just started crawling and walking, and she took off,” Mrs. Noland said. “She’s pretty crazy now. She is nonstop on the go.”
In a few months, perhaps, the only remnant of Willow’s ordeal will be her surgery scars.
“I used to hate the scars … because they just reminded me of all the sad nights and the hard nights of waiting in the OR room and waiting outside her room to see if she’s going to survive,” Mrs. Noland said. “But now, I look at them and I’m like, ‘This is just proof of what you can overcome, what you can take.'”
The Noland family faced a series of painful ordeals around the time of Willow’s birth.
According to the report:
The Ashville couple was told Willow had sepsis, an intestinal disease and a lung disorder. Doctors told them she would need surgery.
She underwent four in total as she spent 236 days in neonatal intensive care.
Along the way, doctors continued to ask the Nolands if they wanted to withdraw care. If they wanted to simply let Willow die.
They would not.
And Willow survived. And thrived.
“She really is a miracle,” Mrs. Noland said.
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More babies like Willow are surviving at very early stages of pregnancy and low birth weights. A study published in 2015 in the New England Journal of Medicine found that 23 percent of infants are surviving birth as early as 22 weeks. Yet, these babies could have been legally aborted for any reason in many states. The study also found that some hospitals are not giving babies treatment at this early age, despite modern medical advancements that have pushed back the viability line from 24 weeks to 22.
“The political significance of this story is in how it undermines an important standard that has determined the rights of pre-born children for the last 44 years,” Ohio Right to Life responded to Willow’s story. “When Roe v. Wade was decided in 1973, the Supreme Court ripped away all protections for the pre-born, allowing states to only limit abortions after 24 weeks. Since that time, this standard—the ‘viability standard’—has proven increasingly unworkable. Little Willow is showing us why.”
According to the pro-life organization, 478 babies were aborted after 19 weeks gestation in 2015 in Ohio. In the U.S. as a whole, researchers put the estimate of late-term abortions at about 18,000 per year.
“This story gives a face to the hundreds of children in Ohio who remain unprotected by our laws, and it burdens us with the responsibility to act,” according to Ohio RTL.