23 week babies are ‘crippling budgets’ says columnist

A columnist for the Guardian has argued that babies born at 23 weeks who go on to develop disabilities are “crippling” budgets for children’s services.

Writing for the Guardian, Polly Toynbee also described abortion as “very, very ordinary and a mark of civilisation”.

In response to news that more babies born at 23 weeks are surviving, she said: “Many of the ‘saved’ babies end up in care because their multiple disabilities are beyond what parents can manage.


“Directors of children’s services find they take in many now reaching their teens, needing 24-hour two-person care, crippling budgets for child protection and care of all the others”.

Her comments are reminiscent of those made by Baroness Warnock back in 2008. She said that pensioners with dementia are “wasting the resources of the National Health Service”.

More recently, Richard Dawkins came under fire for saying that it is “immoral” not to abort babies with Down’s syndrome.


Toynbee also praised a film released this week for portraying abortion as a “normal event in a woman’s life – no trauma, no tragedy, just routine”.

Criticising pro-life media coverage, she said the “real campaign is to normalise the law in line with attitudes and behaviour”.

Toynbee argued that there should be no “need for two doctors to sign” and “no need for an early cut-off date”. She described abortion as “an everyday medical fact”.


Her comments follow the publication of new figures which show that the number of babies who survive after being born at 23 weeks is rising.

According to freedom of information requests at least 120 babies born at 23 weeks, one week before the legal abortion limit, have survived in the last four years.

The figures have caused concern among pro-life groups and doctors about the current abortion law.


Earlier this week, MP Fiona Bruce said: “I do not understand why there is not more outcry about the fact that we allow viable babies to be aborted.”

At present, the law in Great Britain states that healthy babies can be aborted up to 24 weeks if certain conditions are met.

Abortion up to birth is lawful when the mother’s life is at risk, or where the unborn child has a serious handicap.

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