Last week the journal Pediatrics published an article about a three-year-old girl born prematurely at just 21 weeks’ and 4 days’ after conception. The girl weighed about 14.5 ounces at birth, and had to be resuscitated by medical personnel.

Today she is a healthy preschooler.

Doctors hope this points to a better future for babies born prematurely.

This story underscores a problem with the U.S. Supreme Court’s so-called “viability rule” for abortion.

According to the courts, “viability” is the point at which a baby can survive outside the womb.

In the past the court has ruled abortion can be regulated later in pregnancy — after a baby becomes “viable” and can live outside the womb. Abortion cannot be regulated as easily early in pregnancy — before the baby is “viable.”

Many argue a baby doesn’t become viable until the 22nd or 24th week of pregnancy. This journal article shows a healthy child who was born several days before that, during the 21st week of pregnancy.

Medical technology continues to push the point of “viability” earlier and earlier in pregnancy. Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor acknowledged this fact 34 years ago when she wrote, “As medical science becomes better able to provide for the separate existence of the fetus [from the mother], the point of viability is moved further back toward conception.”

This latest article in Pediatrics highlights that fact.

Photo Credit: By Rafael Alcarde Palomares (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons.