Some of the tiniest members of society are making a huge difference in the abortion debate in the United Kingdom and United States.
In greater numbers, very premature babies are being born and surviving before the legal abortion limit, and raising questions about current abortion laws.
Little Austin Douglas is one of them.
The British “miracle” baby was born on March 31, about 18 weeks before his due date, according to the Daily Mail. Austin weighed just 1 pound, 4 ounces and was barely bigger than his mother’s hand, the report states.
But after months at the Birmingham Children’s Hospital, his parents, Helen and Rhys, said they hope to bring Austin home soon.
“His heart beat is strong and breathing on his own gets better and longer every day,” Helen said. “We have to take each day at a time but I’ve never prayed so much in my life since he came into the world.”
She described her son as a miracle two times over. Because of fertility problems, Helen said doctors told her she would never conceive.
“I was told years ago that I would probably have an early menopause and children were off the agenda, so Austin has been a little miracle from the very beginning,” she said. “He is a miracle twice over. When I found out I was pregnant, I was ecstatic. I love him so much and I’m so grateful for all the care he’s had.”
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In March, Helen said she began experiencing severe stomach pain; and when they arrived at the hospital, doctors said she was in labor.
“We were asked if we wanted medical assistance for him, given how premature he was,” she remembered. “I told doctors that if he came out breathing, I wanted them to do everything they could and they did. He was translucent and we could see his organs through his skin.”
In the first few weeks of his life outside the womb, Austin developed several life-threatening conditions, including two lung infections, but he fought through them, his parents said.
While he is not well enough to go home yet, doctors said he is doing a lot better. The family said they hope to bring Austin home by his original due date, July 28.
Stories like Austin’s are some of the reasons why people are advocating for a change in abortion laws. Austin was born after spending 22 weeks in the womb, two weeks prior to the legal abortion limit in the UK. Some U.S. states also allow abortions up to 24 weeks or even later.
Generally, 24 weeks has been considered the point of viability in the medical community. However, new studies, coupled with success stories like Austin’s, indicate that viability now is about 22-23 weeks.
Earlier this year, a study out of Duke University found that more babies are surviving at the 23 week mark. The researchers found a “small but significant drop in fatalities for babies born between 23 and 37 weeks gestation,” as well as a decrease in premature babies manifesting with neurophysiological problems, the Daily Mail reported.
Pro-life advocates want every unborn baby to be protected from the moment of conception, but even many who are “pro-choice” on abortion think unborn babies should be protected once they are viable. A Gallup poll released in June found just 29 percent of Americans think abortions should be legal under any circumstances, while 68 percent think abortions should be legal only under certain circumstances or not at all.
A UK poll in May similarly found 70 percent of Brits want the current abortion limit lowered, with 59 percent saying abortions should be limited to 16 weeks or earlier.