North Carolina Right to Life applauds US District Judge Osteen’s decision yesterday to reinstate protections to unborn babies 20 weeks or older. This was done in light of the recent United States Supreme Court’s decision overturning Roe v Wade in the Dobbs decision on June 24, 2022. The Dobbs decision returned power to the states to regulate abortions within their state.
At 20 weeks of pregnancy, the babies are much more developed and functional. There have been a few cases of premature babies born at 21 weeks that have survived and gone home after a stay in the neonatal intensive care unit. Babies at 20 weeks can feel pain, can hear their mother’s voice, frequently move and can suck their thumb. Their little arms and legs and facial features are easily distinguished on ultrasound. They have 10 fingers and toes and their heart has been beating since approximately 6 weeks gestational age. Before they are born, their heart will have beat over 54,000,000 times.
Babies at 21 weeks and older often undergo dismemberment abortion which is extremely painful. The babies are too big for D&C abortions (dilation and suction curettage). Abortions performed at this age require more gruesome methods. D&E (dilation and extraction) abortions involve the abortionist inserting sharp surgical instruments and forceps through the cervix, dismembering the unborn baby, piece-by-piece, and extracting it. In every abortion a baby dies.
This is a momentous step towards equal civil rights for unborn babies. We also recognize the need for continued work within the law. In NC, in 2020, over 5,000 babies under 20 weeks still would need protections from dismemberment abortion. Additionally, even more babies with beating hearts need protection.