Monday, 8 August 2011

Baby born at 23 weeks who is happy and thriving at five years fuels further calls for lowering of upper abortion limit

The mother of a boy, now five years old, who was born prematurely at 23 weeks gestation, has again ignited the debate about upper gestational limits for abortion.

Charlie Allen’s survival prompted his mother Emma, a business support executive, to say that he was living proof that the limit on abortion should be reduced from 24 weeks.

It is currently up to individual health trusts to decide whether or not they follow NHS guidelines on not resuscitating babies born earlier than 24 weeks.

Mrs Allen was given the choice to resuscitate her identical twins when she gave birth at Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital and opted to go ahead. Sadly her other twin died but Charlie pulled through and is now thriving.

She said: ‘Fortunately for us, there was no blanket policy in place at Norfolk and Norwich. It makes me so angry that I want to cry when people say babies at 23 weeks should not be resuscitated. Look at Charlie – the very fact that he is here and is well, is living proof that they should be.’

The only tell-tale sign of Charlie’s traumatic entrance into the world is that he is short-sighted and is smaller then the average five-year-old, weighing just two stone and wearing clothes made for three-year-olds.

Mrs Allen said: ‘He may be on the small size, but Charlie can more then look after himself. I still see the fighting spirit in him that saved his life when he was just a baby.’

Recently I commented on the story of Jacob McMahon, who took the title of Britain's most premature surviving twin from Charlie after he was born on February 22, just 23 weeks into pregnancy, at a weight of just 1lb 4oz (Charlie was 1lb 7oz).

The cover story in the summer edition of the CMF journal Triple Helix, written by Professor John Wyatt, reviews the recent BBC documentary ‘23 week babies - the price of life’, which represented six months of filming on the neonatal intensive care unit at Birmingham Women’s Hospital.

Wyatt raises a number of technical and clinical issues, which were not raised in the programme, to argue that every extremely pre-term baby deserves the chance to be considered for treatment.

The British Medical Association recently rejected a call to lower the upper limit to 20 weeks and I argued at the time that they were listening neither to the public nor the science on the issue.

This later case will reinforce public opinion that the law needs to change.


  1. In a public forum in 2010 I asked the following general question:

    " I take the view that abortion certainly at 24 weeks is Spiritually wrong.

    But the question has always been when does life begin ?. Is it at conception ? Or when a Heart starts beating or when a child is actually born ? Is the Soul of a child placed in the unborn before birth or after and at what point ?"

    I also asked this:
    " Forgot to ask this though : what is one supposed to do if they become pregnant through child abuse or an act of violence such as rape ?"

    The answer I was given was this:

    " Until you return, Yasmin, you will never be given an accurate answer to this question, and those with you in spirit will never attempt,whether through signs, through intuition, or through divine intervention, to guide you in making a life or death decision while you are here. The answer is far to important to you for us to interfere, and each of you already hold the answer. It has been given.
    What we will do, however, Yasmin, is leave you with this: what are one's true intentions when making this type of choice? Is it to ease another's suffering, or is it to ease yours?
    Let this always be the Light that guides you in making decisions. "

    Perhaps we should also consider the possibility that follows, Spiritually I mean: Extract from a file:
    " odamaebrownandj (06/10/2009 01:24:38): Cells divide from the energy in a person, and the heart starts beating when the soul is in place."

    Though my medical knowledge is limited , my understanding from reading reports is that the heart starts beating 21 days after conception, this is before a woman even knows she's pregnant.

    Our young girls and woman have alot more choices other than abortion but they are not using those choices. One reason could be due to family pressures.

    Birmingham. UK

  2. Whether or not a baby can survive outside the womb is irrelevant, unless you are proposing a method of abortion in which the fetus is removed intact and allowed to take its chances. For as long as an organism is invading someone's body without their consent, it forfeits its right for life. Abortion should be legal until birth.

    1. If you voluntarily engage in sex, you certainly give consent, since the whole reason sex exists is for creating a new human being.

      That argument doesn't work for the rare cases where conception occurs by rape. But even then, the baby is not "an organism" but a human being, in fact, your own child, who is depending on you for his or her life. You can't give a few months to that child, until someone else can take care of him or her?
      Susan Peterson

    2. "If you voluntarily engage in sex, you certainly give consent, since the whole reason sex exists is for creating a new human being."

      Presumption and incorrect.

      I know people like you have never enjoyed any kind of intimate relationship with another person, but many humans enjoy sex, and do so for the pleasure of it.

      Straight over your head...

    3. An unborn child, or fetus, whichever you prefer is not the definition of "an organism invading someone's body without their consent."

      It is not a parasite or a virus. It is something that was created by the act of two people having sex. Yes people engage in sex for enjoyment, but they also know there is a risk of bringing another right into this world while doing so.

      This "organism" is not an invader, it was created by you. Assuming the sex was agreed upon by both parties, both parties were aware of this risk and should be held responsible at least until the "organism" can survive on it's own.

      This "organism", also known as a baby, didn't ask to be put into you, it had no choice. The least you could do is give it a chance to live.

  3. I am the mother to a 1lb 6oz 24 weeker and know many other babies who were born under 2lb or under 28 weeks gestation, even a handful of 23 weekers.

    I feel the real clinical problem is the lack of indicators, at birth, of which babies will survive and which will not. Thorough statistical research would help, but most neonatologists agree that there is no predictor - sometimes the weakest, smallest and sickest babies pull through whilst the larger healthier ones succumb.

    For most extremely premature babies born alive we are not talking about months of suffering followed by a painful death. We are talking about days, a week or two, of potential suffering as the price of a reasonable chance of a relatively normal life. The borderline cases make the headlines - babies still ventilated at 6 months old - but the reality is that most 23 - 26 week babies are either recovering or have passed away after 2 weeks. Attempting resuscitation given this information leads to a much easier conclusion in my opinion.

    I strongly believe that all babies born alive should be resuscitated, until infection, severe brain damage or cardiac arrest claims the life there is still a good chance of a life no more disabled than the average dyslexic spectacle wearer.


  5. Your idea coincides with mine.and I think it's better.


    Rc Hobby|Rc Helicopter|Mini Rc Helicopter

  6. Great! Can we just have Caesarians at 23 weeks and let women off the hook?


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