Baby Survives After Just 21 Week Gestation
From USA Today:
A premature baby that doctors say spent less
time in the womb than any other surviving infant is to be released from
a Florida hospital Tuesday.
Amillia Sonja Taylor was just 9½ inches long and
weighed less than 10 ounces when she was born Oct. 24. She was
delivered 21 weeks and six days after conception. Full-term births come
after 37 to 40 weeks. “We weren’t too optimistic,” Dr. William Smalling said Monday. “But she proved us all wrong.” Neonatologists who cared for Amillia say she is
the first baby known to survive after a gestation period of fewer than
23 weeks. A database run by the University of Iowa’s Department of
Pediatrics lists seven babies born at 23 weeks between 1994 and 2003.
Amillia has experienced respiratory problems, a
very mild brain hemorrhage and some digestive problems, but none of the
health concerns are expected to pose long-term problems, her doctors
said. “We can deal with lungs and things like that
but, of course, the brain is the most important,” Dr. Paul Fassbach
said Monday. “But her prognosis is excellent.”
UPDATE: To provide some context, back near the anniversary of Roe v. Wade, a number of liberal bloggers posted commentary questioning the widespread view — accepted even by many supporters of abortion rights — that abortion is, at a minimum, a morally problematic practice. Over at Unfogged, in the course of recounting the story of her own abortion, LizardBreath made the following claim:
Morally, I think that a ten week embryo — in fact, any fetus in at
least the first two trimesters — is not sentient and is not a person
or anything else with rights, and that ending a pregnancy does not have
moral significance with respect to the rights or interests of the fetus.
I meant to post something at the time questioning the factual claim that a fetus cannot be sentient during the second trimester. But this USA Today story goes one better, and provides evidence of viability several weeks back into the second trimester. Now, I agree with the commenter below that viability and sentience are not the same, and, as a consequence, evidence of viability in the second trimester does not refute LizardBreath’s claim about sentience. This does lead to an interesting question, though. Given the distinct possibility that some day down the road technology might make a fetus viable before it becomes sentient (depending on what you mean by sentience, this 21 week “birth” might already present such a case), what, if anything, is the significance of the concept of viability to those who emphasize sentience in their analysis of the morality of abortion?