Wednesday, August 6, 2008

I'm Feeling Mischievous This Evening

I'm Feeling Mischievous This Evening

One of the recurring arguments of the pro-choice crowd is that women shouldn't be forced to carry a "parasite" against their will. You know what, I'm prepared to agree with them--if they will agree to consider the alternative. This article in the May 9, 2008 The Guardian indicates that we seem to have reached a barrier on survival rates for premature births; in spite of significant advances in the field of neonatal medical care, 24 weeks gestational age seems to be about the limit. Below 24 weeks, the survival rate remains extraordinarily low. Above 24 weeks, the survival rates have actually gotten relatively acceptable:
The study involved 16 hospitals with more than 55,000 births a year. Researchers found a marked improvement in survival of the 24 and 25-week babies. In 1994-1999, 490 such babies were admitted to intensive care and 174 survived to be sent home (36%). In the later years, 2000-2005, 497 babies were admitted to intensive care and 236 (47%) went home.
So for women who insist that they don't want to carry the baby, and the baby is 24 weeks or later, perhaps we can work out a deal. Instead of an abortion, they go ahead and have a C-section and put the baby up for adoption. Okay, the chances that the baby will survive aren't spectacularly good--but a heck of a lot better than an abortion. I mean, assuming that is the real reason for the late-term abortions of otherwise healthy babies.

We don't have a similar compromise to offer those who want to abort a baby before 24 weeks. There's almost no chance of survival (and none at all below 23 weeks), and the enormous costs involved in a lost cause probably don't justify the effort. But it does raise another question: could pro-life groups pay pregnant women who want an abortion to wait until the baby has a chance to live? I suspect that it wouldn't take an enormous amount of money (perhaps just a few hundred dollars) to persuade some of these women to wait a couple months, and then go for a C-section.

Like I said, I'm being mischievous. Or perhaps I'm trying to get people on both sides to think about this issue in a new way.

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