The mother of a baby girl who survived after being born at 23 weeks – one week below the legal time limit for abortion – says her daughter is “living proof” that the law needs updating.
Lexie Slater-Folksman has been allowed home after months of hospital treatment, including an operation on her eyes which had not yet been able to develop properly.
Her mother, Sarah Slater, initially went into labour at just 22 weeks, and gave birth less than a week later. Lexie weighed just 1lb 8oz.
Although she needs help with her breathing, Lexie has gained strength and reached a healthy 8lb.
Lexie was born before the 24 week upper time limit for abortion, and Miss Slater believes her daughter’s story is evidence that the law is due for a change.
This upper time limit is considerably higher than many EU countries. Most countries in the EU (16 out of 27) have a gestation limit of 12 weeks. Two thirds of EU countries fix their limit lower than Great Britain.
Last year the passage of controversial new embryology legislation provided an opportunity for MPs to vote on lowering the upper time limit for abortion.
However, all attempts to do so failed, despite evidence that more babies now survive birth before 24 weeks with specialist care.
Miss Slater said: “We’re so glad to have Lexie home with us at last and it just shows how outmoded our laws on abortion are.
“Some mothers-to-be would be able to legally terminate their pregnancy at 23 weeks – yet my Lexie is living proof babies can survive being born so prematurely.
“I never realised a baby would be so well developed at 23 weeks and they do have a chance of life.”
Another baby born at 23 weeks, Chloe Wilson, who was given a ten per cent chance of survival by doctors, has also been allowed to go home from hospital.
Chloe’s twin Ellie sadly died 30 days after the girls were delivered. Their parents, Michelle and Steven Wilson, were warned that at just 1lb 2oz Chloe had only a faint chance of survival.
“There was a point when we thought it would never happen – especially when we were first told that she only had a 10 per cent chance of survival,” said Mrs Wilson.
“But we never gave up. Now she’s doing absolutely fine and every now and again we get a little smile from her.”
In the run-up to the abortion votes in May, a poll conducted on behalf of The Christian Institute found that 72 per cent of women wanted a lower abortion time limit in light of the survival rates of babies born before 24 weeks.
However, a number of attempts to lower the time limit failed, with even a bid to reduce it by just two weeks defeated by 304 votes to 233.