"When it comes to debating the rights of the unborn, history may show our current quiet phase to have been the calm before the storm: the transition period when science, not ideology, became the driving force for a bill of rights for the fetus.
One factor driving the change: advancements in neonatal medicine are pushing the envelope of fetal viability well beyond what anyone ever imagined.
In May 2015, Time magazine responded to a study by the New England Journal of Medicine on premature infants by asking the question that’s on many people’s minds: “How low can preemies go?” The landmark study pointed to fetal viability at 22 weeks, versus the currently accepted 24 weeks. According to Time, this raised new ethical dilemmas about “how much care is too much — and how much is suddenly not enough” and, by extension, “how an even slightly lower age of viability affects the fraught debate over abortion.”
In particular, the study calls into question the controversial practice of late-term abortions, performed after the 20th week of gestation. According to partial data from the Canadian Institute for Health Information, in 2014 there were 605 abortions performed at 21-plus weeks. In the decade to come, as saving the lives of premature infants in that grey zone of viability becomes commonplace, it will make the dividing line between the wanted and the unwanted so much more intolerable, especially for the many Canadians who self-identify as “reluctantly pro-choice.”
Neonatology isn’t the only stream of medicine that will eventually force the government’s hand in establishing the rights of the unborn — fetal medicine is making equally course-altering strides. After a $54.5-million gift to its Women and Children’s Health Research Institute, the University of Alberta recently joined other hospitals and universities worldwide who will, in the decades to come, establish a new normal in fetal care, including life-saving surgeries and diagnostics that can be performed in utero as early as 13 weeks.
These scientific leaps won’t just expand our notion of duty of care for the fetus, they will blow it wide open.
Will a woman’s autonomy still be the deciding factor on issues of life and death?..."After being in Toronto this past weekend where everything was Pride Pride Pride Pride...I thought this comment below about the article from a Del James Cornell University, was particularly timely:
"It would great to see strong, rational voices in the general population advocating for rights of the unborn with the same vigor we have seen people advocating for LGBT rights. Human rights are rights for all humans and science continually demonstrates that a fetus is a human being unto itself."