As these stunning pictures show, a new technology allows mums and dads to hold a life size model of their unborn child.
“It’s amazing to see the faces of the mothers,” said inventor Dr Jorge Lopes who developed the technology for his PhD at the Royal College of Art.
It works by taking data from ultrasound and MRI scans to build a life-size plaster model using a method called rapid prototyping.
Back in 2004, a new technology which allowed parents to see moving ‘3D’ scans of their baby sparked calls for a review of the abortion law.
The scans showed babies younger than the 24-week abortion limit stretching, yawning, smiling and ‘walking’ in the womb.
But despite polls showing that most women supported a reduction in the upper time limit for abortion, the law remained unchanged when Parliament voted last year.
This new life-size model technology could ignite the abortion debate once again.
In England, Scotland and Wales, abortion is allowed up to 24 weeks of pregnancy. The consent of two doctors is required.
Abortion up to birth is lawful when the mother’s life is at risk, or where the unborn child has a serious handicap (however, ‘serious handicap’ has been taken to include a treatable abnormality such as a cleft palate).
Abortion is unlawful in Northern Ireland, except for where the mother’s life is at risk.
One in five recorded pregnancies in England and Wales ends in abortion.
According to Government figures given in 2006, of the 5.3 million abortions to residents of England and Wales: 0.4% were because of risk to the mother’s life; 1.3% were because of foetal handicap; over 98% were for social reasons.
In 2006 one woman told the BBC: “I went to the British Pregnancy Advice Service for counselling. I asked if at ten weeks it was a baby and they said, ‘No, it’s just cells.’ I felt like it wasn’t a baby and that was my get-out clause; I wasn’t doing anything wrong.
“Afterwards I was emotionally numb and although I didn’t have an emotional breakdown, I became anorexic. I was promiscuous for some time. But at the time I didn’t think it had anything to do with the abortion.”
She said her failed abortion of a second child changed her view: “When I saw that baby with its heart beating, I knew that nine years ago I had destroyed a baby… I realised that I had been reacting out of fear and not really thinking. I was in denial: ‘It wasn’t really a baby but cells.’
“Women deserve more than abortion in a crisis. There are other options, why should the death of a baby be the only answer?”