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Change viability to 22 weeks and require doctors/hospitals to treat premature babies if strong parental wish

This petition had 20,445 supporters


According to Wikipedia, viability of a fetus means "having reached such a stage of development as to be capable of living, under normal conditions, outside the uterus." In the United States, the limit of viability is considered to be around 24 weeks and hospitals are legally allowed to deny medical treatment to babies born prior to 24 weeks gestation.

When I started having complications with my twin pregnancy at 21 weeks 5 days, the only hospital in this area with a Neonatal Intensive Care Unit refused to help. When I delivered my first born twin, a few days later, at 22 weeks 0 days gestation, the neonatologist filling in rushed in at 4 am without knowing the gestational age and listened to our wishes and intubated my daughter. My daughter and I were both transferred to the same hospital, as they have the only NICU in the area, but they refused to help me keep my other twin in my womb (since she wasn't viable) and wanted to let "nature takes it course".  Thankfully, my OBGYN allowed me to transfer back to the original hospital and he was willing to do everything he could to save my daughter (the smaller of the two) and keep her in my womb as long as possible. With a rescue cerclage, we were able to keep her in my womb for 5 additional weeks and she was born at 27 weeks 1 day gestation.

Today, my girls are 8 and 7 months old (4 months adjusted) and are both doing well. Neither one has any major health issues and are meeting all of their development goals, so far! I realize there is still a chance of them having development delays/issues; however, they both proved that they could survive with a little bit of help and should be considered “viable”. I understand that we were extremely fortunate and blessed and that not many babies survive at 22 or 23 weeks and many have a lot of health issues. However, some full term babies also have health issues (i.e. Down syndrome, drug addiction, etc.). So why is it unacceptable to deny medical treatment for those babies? If I had went to a different hospital or had my daughter a few days later, neither one of my girls would be alive today! Because of that, I would like to create a law that requires hospitals to help save babies that are born alive, or at a minimum of 22 weeks gestation, if there is a strong parental wish.

Japan changed the age of viability from 24 weeks to 22 weeks back in 1991 based on the survival rate of extremely preterm infants. Why shouldn't we do the same?



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