Premature births ending need for abortions

Will it ever be medically possibly to deliver a baby so premature as to eliminate the need for abortions? I mean if a baby could be delivered as soon as a month after conception, would this eliminate the need for abortions? Basically, rather than abort an unwanted pregnancy, you have it removed. Afterwards you lose custody and obligations to support the child, while the child is then cared for by the state until it is healthy enough to be put up for adoption.

Hi and welcome to the SDMB! Basically I think you’ve got a Great Debate there, not a General Question, so while we’re waiting for a moderator to move this (or not, as the spirit moves his godlike omnipotence), I’ll hand in my two cents worth.

What pops out at me is, if people could simply get rid of their living, viable fetal children like that–simply hand them over to the State to be raised–what’s going to be the age cutoff? It’s kind of like the “viable fetus abortion cutoff” in reverse–if you can legally simply hand over a 6-month-developed fetus/child to the State to be raised, nurtured, and paid for, then why couldn’t you also hand over a six-month-old baby, or a one year old child, or a six-year-old child, or a 16-year-old child? What would be the age cutoff for people being allowed to dump their unwanted, inconvenient children on the State, to be looked after?


Let me paraphrase what you are asking to make sure I have it.

Women have abortions because they don’t want a child, and because they do not want to bring a pregnancy to term only to give the child up for adoption. Therefore they terminate the pregnancy early. You are suggesting that if it were possible to deliver a premature baby rather than abort it, that the women would be willing to undergo this alternate procedure.

First, I’m not sure if your assumptions hold about women’s willingness to go this alternative.

Second, strictly speaking this is not a factual question (forum ground rules) since it calls for lots of speculation. Not so strictly speaking, there is probably a physician or biologist out there who can tell us that there is a minimum barrier of fetal viability that we will probably never get beyond, in the same way that it is doubtful that people will ever live for 175 years.

If you can make a heart-lung machine I guess you could make an artificial umbilical cord and all that but these methods, even if feasible, would likely be so controversial and heroic as to not be adopted. Sounds like we’re going in Great Debate territory here.

Are you not able to give a baby up for adoption currently? If you have a 1 year old and don’t feel like you can care for it, can’t you give it up for adoption?

No, as far as I know you can’t just decide that you’re tired of raising your child and simply hand it over to someone somewhere, or to the State. There’s no legal mechanism established that I’m aware of that allows for this. Hand it over to whom? Social Services, I suppose. You’d have to formally abandon it, and IANAL, but I believe that’s actionable.

I’ve never heard of a legally established mechanism whereby people can just “give up” on their kids and say to the State, “Here, you look after it, I’ve got better things to do…”

The only one I can think of is the “no fault” baby abandonment law, where you can take your newborn baby to the nearest police or fire station and officially abandon it, no questions asked. But an older child? I’ve never heard of that. Putting an ad in the paper, “Free to good home”? Never heard of that. Getting a lawyer to arrange to have some other family adopt your older child? I’ve never heard of that, either.

As I said, IANAL, but I believe that once you have the child, it’s basically “yours”, legally. And you’re responsible for it. You can’t just hand it off to someone else when you get tired of it.

If there’s someone else willing to take custody, what law would prevent it? It’s not abandonment if there’s a legal custodian.

It’s called “voluntary termination of parental rights” and it does, in fact exist. Pretty rarely used, though. IANAL, either, and therefore do not know the fine print involved, but yes, you can surrender your children to the state. Or arrange a private adoption. Back when I was working in drug rehab we had a couple of terminally ill people do this as private adoptions of older children - their intent was to arrange for their children’s needs before they become incapcitated and died. I think there have been other instances, for reasons other than illness, but I’m not clear on the details.

Given the number of children already waiting to be adopted, I don’t see the state being willing to subsidize a (likely very expensive) medical procedure plus a lengthy incubation period just to add another one to the list. Even if an “unwanted pregnancy” could be removed instead of aborted, it wouldn’t make it any more “wanted” than it was before. There wouldn’t be people lining up to adopt these ultra-preemies, except perhaps whatever percentage of them managed to develop into healthy, white infants.

A girl I knew worked as a nurse at a veterinary clinic where some (selfish bitch) came in with a cat literally just a couple of weeks away from giving birth, and demanded a termination.

They did as requested, but delivered the kittens live, and hand-reared them. The nurse gave them an excellent home, and despite lacking proper feline maternal nuture, they grew up into very healthy and happy kittens. They never told the owner that they didn’t kill the kittens.

A girl I knew worked as a nurse at a veterinary clinic where some (selfish bitch) came in with a cat literally just a couple of weeks away from giving birth, and demanded a termination.

/Mini rant

It’s amazing to me that we can call people like that a selfish bitch, who merely wanted an animal killed, but should stay mum when someone wants her baby killed. Even girls who deliver and then kill the baby and shove it in the trash are given more sympathy, damn.

NOT that I’m saying that we SHOULD call names at people who get abortions. I’m just commenting on how our society holds animals more dear than people sometimes.

/Rant off

Anyhow, even if the OP’s situation could work, there would still be abortions. Delivering a baby at even 6 week’s gestation would still reveal that the woman had sex, and in some cases, especially a teenager, it would be easier to just sneak off and have an abortion so Mom and Dad never find out.

Not to get into GD here, but I’m pretty sure what incenses people in cases like this is that while a pregnant human woman is capable of making an informed decision to terminate her pregnancy, it’s fairly certain that the cat is not a willing participant in her own demise. Why destroy a perfectly healthy animal for no reason other than because someone doesn’t want to be bothered to care for it anymore? Killing animals for food. No problem. Putting down a seriously injured or gravely ill animal? Absolutely. Killing a pet you don’t want to bother with anymore? Selfish.

Actually, animal abortions are common, I think-usually done in the early stages. If only because of so many unwanted animals.

I’m pretty sure that istara was talking about the termination of the pregnant mother, not the termination of her unborn kits.

I’m pro-choice, but I think the compelling right that the pregnant person has is the right to decide she doesn’t want to be pregnant any more. If pro-life people want to see part of their tax money going to support the costs of keeping 2nd and 3rd (heck, even 1st) trimester embryos and fetuses alive outside the mom’s body until they are viable on their own, and in return for that would stop interfering in the right to cease to be pregnant (i.e., you can have the procedure if and when you want it without having to justify it), I’m OK with some of my tax money going in that direction too, and we can bury this prolonged argument for once and for all.

How about you pro-life folks?

I’m moving this thread to Great Debates, where it really belongs.

For the Straight Dope

This seems to be more of a debatable than a factual question, so I’ll move this thread to the Great Debates forum.

moderator GQ

Cleanup on Forum 7! (Lynn and bibliophage each “moved” the thread to Great Debates and now there are two if it)

One of this thread are both the same.

If a woman went looking for an abortion “just a couple of weeks” before she was going to give birth, don’t you think she’d be derided just as much?


Well, thank you, dear, I learned something today. :smiley:

Sorry: to clarify, it was the termination of the kittens not the mother.

The reason the woman was a selfish bitch was because she had had ample time to end the cat’s pregnancy/cull the litter much earlier on. She waited until such a time as the damn kittens were actually viable - very near to birth.

Plus: remember the woman is choosing FOR the cat. The cat would not understand what had happened to it, all its hormones and bodily urges would be ready for nursing. Consider it like the tragic cases of woman who have stillborn babies but still lactate.

Besides this, I do not believe hardly ANY women CHOOSE to get an ultra late term abortion just for the sake of it. There is usually a prevailing medical or health reason.