- Author James Pendergraft
- Published March 19, 2012
- Word count 648
Roe v. Wade was decided by the United States Supreme almost four decades ago. Fetal viability is not determined by the number of weeks of gestation, but is evaluated by the Physician who is responsible for terminating the woman’s pregnancy as decided Trimester Abortion by the Supreme Court in Planned Parenthood vs. Casey. Due to advancement in medical technology, a fetus that is healthy (i.e. no fetal genetic defects, significant fetal abnormalities or anomalies that are incompatible with life) is able to survive at earlier stages of gestation compared to 40 years ago. There is still a significant proportion of children born prematurely or extremely premature (less than 24 weeks) who not only still have a high chance of perinatal mortality, but who will have considerable morbidity which may include significant mental retardation, deafness, blindness, pulmonary problems, poor feeding and higher susceptibility later in life of chronic diseases such as diabetes.
At 28 weeks, the majority of fetuses will survive birth if they are normal. If the fetus is not normal, then each one must be evaluated to determine if the abnormality is associated with a high incidence of mortality and such significant morbidity that may lead to neonatal mortality. In essence; a fetus at 32, 34, or even 36 weeks may need a late term abortion procedure if evaluated and found to have fetal genetic defects or fetal abnormalities that would not allow it to survive until birth or die immediately or shortly after birth. It should remain the decision between the mother and her Physician whether she should terminate the pregnancy immediately or proceed to a full term delivery. If the mother has a medical condition where her life is threatened if a delivery does not occur and for her to undergo a C-section may lead to her death, then the decision to terminate the pregnancy to save the mother’s life should remain an option.
For abortion opponents to say that late term abortions are performed for any reason is absolutely false. It is their intent to not reveal the truth so that they can continue their agenda of not only ending Late Term Abortions (terminations of pregnancy after 24 weeks) but to end all abortions.
Scientific claims that viability (the ability of a fetus to live outside the womb by artificial means or otherwise) occurring between 24 to 28 weeks has been diluted by medical progress over the past 3 to 4 decades. There has not been a reduction in the perinatal mortality for children born less than 23 weeks over the past decade, thus substantiating that further decrease in neonatal mortality before this gestational age may not occur. Those born at or more than 23 weeks gestation have had a significant improvement in the perinatal morbidity and mortality over the past 10 years.
Since the medical advances which have allowed a fetus born earlier to survive, opponents of abortion argue that the laws must be changed in order to address the number of weeks viability begins. This issue has already been addressed in the Supreme Court case of Planned Parenthood vs. Casey where the state has an interest in protection of the fetus when viability begins which is determined by the Physician through his or her evaluation of each individual fetus. To say at a certain trimester of pregnancy or a certain gestational age an abortion may not be performed is absolutely improper and not taking into consideration the condition of the patient whose life or health may be threatened or a fetus that has no chance of being born alive or dies shortly after birth is absolutely wrong and improper.
Late-term abortions (after 24 weeks) make up a small percentage of the total number of terminated pregnancies (approx .5%) and it remains a crucial issue for our society. It is a vastly critical issue for women who need to terminate their pregnancy due to medical necessity. It is for this reason that Late Term Abortions must remain legal.