Medical Science Challenging “Viability” Point

MIAMI (Reuters) – A premature baby only slightly longer than a ballpoint pen at birth was due to be sent home in the coming days from a Florida hospital after four months of neonatal intensive care, the hospital said on Tuesday.

The Baptist Children’s Hospital in Miami said Amillia Sonja Taylor was born at 21 weeks and six days on October 24, making her possibly the most premature baby on record to survive.


Twenty one weeks, the birth occurred in the 2nd trimester at 5 1/4 months. Roe vs. Wade defined the trimester system back in the 70’s, defining the viability point to be around the 28th week. The Supreme Court’s 1992 ruling on Planned Parenthood vs. Casey has since invalidated the trimester system, replacing it with a simple week count –

However, the plurality overturned the strict trimester formula used in Roe to weigh the woman’s interest in obtaining an abortion against the State’s interest in the life of the fetus. Continuing advancements in medical technology meant that at the time Casey was decided, a fetus might be considered viable at 22 or 23 weeks rather than at the 28 weeks that was more common at the time of Roe. The plurality recognized viability as the point at which the state interest in the life of the fetus outweighs the rights of the woman and abortion may be banned entirely.

“..a fetus might be considered viable at 22 or 23 weeks..”

At some point the Supreme Court is going to face viability at conception, invalidating every ruling on the subject of abortion that restricts the legal rights of the state by a pre-determined length of time post conception. All the more reason to either – overturn Roe and let the states discuss it entirely today, or maybe – fix the whole mess by amending the Constitution so that the right to have an abortion is an inherent individual right. Of course, the latter solution would never be ratified by enough states to pass, heck it probably wouldn’t even get through Congress. The former isn’t going to happen either. So baring a new landmark ruling that removes “viability” from the equation, abortion rights on the federal level are going to continue to erode, and state autonomy will continue to increase.