Premature ‘little fighter’ challenges abortion limit

Six months on, a baby girl born younger than the legal time limit for abortions has amazed her parents and hospital staff with her progress.

Mum Sam Hawkins said: “It’s spooky to think that Jessica was born at a week before the legal limit and she was a baby and fed and pooed.”

When Jessica Hawkins was born at just 23 weeks she weighed just 1lb 7oz and could fit in the palm of her father’s hand.

Medical staff initially feared she had been miscarried, but a scan revealed a heartbeat and she was placed in intensive care.

Her father Pete Hawkins said: “When I first saw her in the incubator I broke down because there were so many tubes and everything”.

Six months on Jessica remains small for her age but otherwise shows no sign of the tense circumstances of her birth.

She has passed all her sight and hearing tests and is developing an awareness of surrounding objects like any other healthy child.

Mrs Hawkins said: “She has amazed us and all the hospital staff who have seen her.

“She has just done brilliantly and didn’t even need oxygen when she came home which we were very surprised about.

“We couldn’t take our eyes off her and are still in disbelief every day that she’s actually ours.”

Speaking about the current abortion law, Mrs Hawkins said: “I think they need to bring the age limit down.”

Last year MPs voted against lowering the UK’s upper limit for abortion, which stands at 24 weeks.

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.

Pro-life groups pointed out increasing survival rates of very premature infants born before 24 weeks.

Conservative MP Nadine Dorries, who led a campaign to lower the limit to 20 weeks, said: “I wish Jessica and her family well. She is a testament to how far medical science has advanced in neonatal care.

“As the law stands, babies just like Jessica are aborted every day and they are mainly healthy babies, aborted for social reasons, not because the baby was poorly, as in Jessica’s case.”

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