When is a baby considered “viable”?

Born at 21 weeks and 6 days and weighing less than 10 ounces- Amillia Taylor is the most premature baby to have ever survived.

Amiliia’s birth raises questions concerning when babies are considered “viable”.  According to the American Association of Pediatrics, babies born at less than 23 weeks are not considered “viable”. The Nuffield Council on Bioethics provided 2006 guidelines for British neonatologists and pediatricians dictating that babies born before 22 weeks and six days gestation should not generally be resuscitated and that below 22 weeks no baby should be resuscitated. Between 23 weeks and 23 weeks and six days, there is no legal obligation on doctors to try to save a baby if they judge it to be against the child’s best interests.

The British Abortion Act allows terminations to be carried out until 24 weeks; any time after that there must be incontrovertible medical evidence that it would be dangerous to continue. The law in the US varies from state to state. Roe v Wade bans abortion after the fetus is viable, which, as the newly born Amillia has shown, is a contentious point.

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Roe v Wade does not ban abortions after the fetus is viable. The decision says that laws banning abortions before viability are unconstitutional, but it is up to each individual state whether they will allow abortions post-viability. No state can ban pre-viability abortions. Each state can make its own decision about post-viability abortions.