Rachael Clarke, Public Affairs and Advocacy Manager at BPAS, said:
“This new guidance provides important support for healthcare professionals caring for extremely premature babies and their families - making sure that the information they receive is evidence-based and up to date. Improved care for much-wanted babies born at any gestation is something everyone should support.
"We need to be clear, though, that the guidance does not provide evidence of a uniform reduction in the date of viability before 24 weeks, and does not change the right of women to end their pregnancies before this date.
"The sad truth that this guidance makes clear is that for women who go into labour at 22 weeks of pregnancy, only 3% of their babies will survive beyond the first year of their life. As the report states, we also have to recognise that looking only at the survival rates of babies who received treatment is not showing us the full picture. At 23 weeks of gestation, only 60% of babies are born alive and 26% of those born alive still die in the delivery room. That is why this document makes clear that care for these vulnerable children must be based on individual medical assessment and comprehensive discussion with their parents."
“There is no contradiction between doing all we can so that babies born long before they are ready for the world have a chance of living, and ensuring that the very small number of women who need to end pregnancies in the final weeks of the second trimester, often in incredibly tragic and desperate circumstances can do so. We must not pit women who have premature babies and women who have later abortions against one another.”
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Notes to Editors:
BPAS is a charity which sees more than 80,000 women a year for reproductive healthcare services including pregnancy counselling, abortion care, miscarriage management and contraception, at clinics across the UK. It supports and advocates for reproductive choice. More information can be found at bpas.org.