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Baby born three months early in 1973 turns 50

Regina Paris, a resident of Gardena Valley, California, has just celebrated her 50th birthday. Born three months early in 1973, Paris was heralded as a “miracle baby” for surviving against the odds. 

Baby survives ahead of her time

Paris was born weighing just 1lb 14oz – just over 800g. When she reached the incredible milestone of turning 20, her local paper ran a news story marvelling that she was born a “full decade before premature babies born so prematurely began surviving with any regularity”.

In her late teens and early twenties, Paris, herself deaf, volunteered at a local school in a class supporting deaf children. Here, as a teacher’s aide, she helped deaf children learn about the world around them.

She then turned her hands to art and became a sculptor. “I learned to sculpt babies out of polymer clay”, she said. Having seen life-like newborn baby dolls, Paris decided she would like to make one herself. This began her interest in sculpting and art, which she has now been doing for over 20 years. 

Improving outcomes for premature babies

50 years ago, a baby born three months early would not have the same chances of survival that it would now

A study, ‘Mortality, In-Hospital Morbidity, Care Practices, and 2-Year Outcomes for Extremely Preterm Infants in the US, 2013-2018’, by Dr Edward F Bell of the University of Iowa, found that from 2013 to 2018, with infants born between 22 and 28 weeks gestation, “survival to discharge occurred in 78.3% and was significantly improved compared with a historical rate of 76.0% among infants born in 2008-2012”.

The study, which took place between 2013 and 2018, assessed 10,877 infants born between 22 and 28 weeks gestation in 19 academic medical centres across the US.

This means that almost four out of five extremely prematurely born babies survived and were able to be assessed at 22-26 months corrected age (22-26 months from their due date) for a number of health and functional outcomes.

Remembering babies whose lives were ended prematurely

Right To Life UK spokesperson Catherine Robinson said “Happy birthday to Regina! Whilst medical technology has advanced so far and premature babies are now surviving much earlier and thriving at amazing rates, this was not the case 50 years ago”. 

“The achievements of a baby who defied the odds and grew to be a woman who contributed so much to her local community is a reminder of how every person has gifts to bring to the world”.

“We also remember the lives of all those children who did not make it to birth, especially those whose lives were ended prematurely because of discrimination against the disabled”. 

Dear reader,

You may be surprised to learn that our 24-week abortion time limit is out of line with the majority of European Union countries, where the most common time limit for abortion on demand or on broad social grounds is 12 weeks gestation.

The latest guidance from the British Association of Perinatal Medicine enables doctors to intervene to save premature babies from 22 weeks. The latest research indicates that a significant number of babies born at 22 weeks gestation can survive outside the womb, and this number increases with proactive perinatal care.

This leaves a real contradiction in British law. In one room of a hospital, doctors could be working to save a baby born alive at 23 weeks whilst, in another room of that same hospital, a doctor could perform an abortion that would end the life of a baby at the same age.

The majority of the British population support reducing the time limit. Polling has shown that 70% of British women favour a reduction in the time limit from 24 weeks to 20 weeks or below.

Please click the button below to sign the petition to the Prime Minister, asking him to do everything in his power to reduce the abortion time limit.