By: Jason & Tammy Dreistadt

Why does Pennsylvania permit late-term abortion at the same time in pregnancy that my son was born?

As parents, you learn quickly how precious life is when your child is faced with life-or-death circumstances.

Will and his one-day-old photo.

Will and his one-day-old photo.

Our oldest son, Will, was born extremely premature at 24 weeks, 6 days. He weighed less than two pounds. His initial stay at the hospital was 15 weeks long and he endured six surgeries in the first year of his life.

He’s now a 12-year-old straight-A student that we cannot imagine life without.

Through our son’s experience, we’ve learned of many other stories like ours. For instance, 3-year-old Lydia is from Central Pennsylvania and was also born extremely premature. She also had an extensive hospital stay. And she, too, is now thriving.

Lydia was born right at 25 weeks – the first day elective abortion is considered illegal in Pennsylvania. When Will was born at 24 weeks, 6 days, just one day different than Lydia, he could have been legally aborted.

Why is 24 weeks, 6 days the magic number for abortion?

Pennsylvania’s Abortion Control Act, which was passed over 27 years ago, set the state’s current abortion limit of 24 weeks (being interpreted to allow up to 24 weeks, 6 days). Back in the 1980’s, babies born at that time had a slim chance of survival.

In today’s modern medical world, preemies born as early as 22 weeks are surviving at record rates. One-third of babies born at 23 weeks and the majority of babies born at 24 weeksare now able to survive. And new research is showing that premature babies born at 22 weeks, once considered too early to save, may survive when given life-saving care.

Regardless of our views on abortion, we should all agree that babies who might survive outside the womb be given that chance.

Will, just one day old and weighing just over 1lb.

Will, just one day old and weighing just over 1lb.

There are efforts in Harrisburg, both in the State House with HB1948 that is awaiting a floor vote, as well as upcoming legislation in the State Senate, to update our law and end late-term abortion by moving the limit to 20 weeks.

QuinnipiacGallupHuffington PostABC News – all have recently shown the majority of Americans want to end late-term abortion.

Today’s millennial generation has grown up with ultrasound technology and understands that a baby is not just a clump of cells during pregnancy. More and more families are being impacted by the life-saving medical advancements in neonatal care. And more and more people are realizing that the United States is only one of seven nations (4%) that allow elective abortion past 20 weeks; a list including North Korea and China.

Pennsylvania knows the harsh reality of late-term abortions.

Jack McMahon was the attorney for Kermit Gosnell, the abortionist who now sits in prison for his late-term abortion business in Philadelphia that went uninspected for decades. As one of his takeaways from the case, McMahon points to abortion limits: “I’ve come out of this case realizing that 24 weeks is a bad determiner. It should be more like 16, 17 weeks. That would be a far better thing because the babies would not be even arguably viable at that point in time and I think the law should be changed to that.” 

The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP) is the worldwide leader in fetal surgery and recognized as the top pediatric neonatal hospital in the country. One mile away from CHOP was Gosnell’s abortion facility.

Yes, Gosnell is in prison for his crimes. But the facts remain that more and more babies are being saved at extremely premature ages, while at the same time, and at the same ages of development, Pennsylvania permits elective late-term abortion.

Saving little Supermans

Michele Willis is a Pittsburgh mom to an 18-month-old who was born right at 24 weeks. “He went through a lot originally but has come so far and I expect great things from him. He is my little miracle.”

Just like this little Superman, and like my son Will, babies born well before Pennsylvania’s abortion limit are not only surviving but thriving.

We are so grateful for 21st century medicine and technology that saved our son’s life. Our laws should reflect these advancements and allow for more lives to be saved.

Jason and Tammy Dreistadt live in Trafford, PA.

For #GivingTuesday, help end late-term abortion in Pennsylvania by supporting the state’s leading advocate for pro-life, pro-family values: Pennsylvania Family Council: