Anita and Dan Hyams are part of a growing number of families asking the British government to change the abortion limit to recognize the value of babies like their son.
The Daily Mail reports Anita, of Southend, Essex, England, gave birth to her son William on June 7, 2016 after just 23 weeks and five days of pregnancy. William was born two days before the legal abortion limit in the UK.
Though he spent 45 days in intensive care after he was born, William now is a thriving toddler, his parents said.
His birth was a frightening experience for the couple, who had lost another baby to miscarriage about a year earlier. Anita Hyams said she felt feverish after a long day at work, and her pain worsened through the night. Early the next morning, she said she knew she was in labor.
“I went downstairs and walked around for a bit, praying I wasn’t having the baby,” she said.
Later, her husband took her to the hospital while her father watched their two older girls, according to the report. William soon was born weighing 1 pound, 4 ounces and breathing on his own, his parents said. He immediately was taken to the neonatal intensive care unit.
“I saw William for the first time at three hours old,” his mother said. “I was scared to even touch him, because he was so tiny, just the size of my hand. But it was like looking at a little miracle.”
The Hyams said they visited their son every day in the hospital and read to him. They said every day, he grew a little stronger and gave them hope.
William’s story inspired them to fight for other babies who may not be given the chance to live. In England, abortions are legal for any reason up to 24 weeks and later in certain circumstances. The Hyams said they want that to change.
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“People have abortions at 24 weeks and yet look at William, he is alive and kicking and a fully-formed baby,” said Anita Hyams, an intensive care nurse. “He is not quite as developed as other babies his age, but he is getting there, and he is alive.
“I was only 23 weeks pregnant when I went into labor and I knew that people could have abortions up to 24 weeks,” she said. “After my experience, I think the abortion limit should be lower, or at least the limit should be lowered for when they will resuscitate a premature baby to 22 weeks.”
The Hyams are not alone. Families of premature babies in the UK and United States have been urging abortion reforms because of new, life-saving medical technology.
A Duke University study published in 2017 reported that babies born at just 23 weeks gestation are surviving outside the womb at a greater rate than ever before. Researchers examined 4,500 babies between 2000 and 2011 and 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 neurophysiological problems, the Daily Mail reported.
The earliest known premature baby to survive outside the womb was born 21 weeks and four days after conception. In 2017, the journal Pediatrics highlighted the girl’s story. She was 3 at the time of the article’s publication.
Research published in 2015 in the New England Journal of Medicine also found that 23 percent of premature infants are surviving as early as 22 weeks of pregnancy. However, the study also found that some hospitals do not treat babies at this early age.