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This House Supports Banning Abortions after 20 wks except for Exceptional Cases
In the landmark 1973 abortion case, Roe v. Wade, the US Supreme Court marked the point at which "compelling state interest” could regulate a woman’s right to choose: fetal viability – that is, the point at which the fetus becomes “potentially able to live outside the mother’s womb”. In 1992, Planned Parenthood vs. Casey reaffirmed that viability is key in defining a state’s power to regulate abortion. So when does a fetus become viable? In the 1970s, viability was estimated at 26-30 weeks in fetal age (which is 2 weeks later than gestational age). Today, it is closer to 21-23 weeks. But guidelines on viability can be self-fulfilling. If doctors choose never to resuscitate infants at 20 weeks because survival rates are so dreadfully low, such rates will inevitably stay low. The case of Japan illustrates this point. For over 20 years, Japanese doctors have treated all babies born at 20 weeks (fetal age). Today, the survival rate for these babies is over 30%. Due to technological advances, viability may be pushed back even further. Just last year, eight premature baby lambs spent their last month of development in an external womb. Researchers hope to test artificial wombs on premature human babies within five years. We are not that far from the day when 20 weeks becomes the new agreed-upon “limit of viability” where the fetus/infant has a 50% chance of long-term survival outside its mother's womb. If viability is indeed the cut-off point for a woman’s right to choose, then abortions after 20 weeks should be banned except in exceptional circumstances such as danger to a woman's physical health or a severe fetal medical condition. Those who oppose such a ban argue that late-term abortions are already very rare. The vast majority of women have abortions within the first 3 months of pregnancy. Those who choose abortion after 20 weeks often weren’t aware they were pregnant earlier. Many are poor or victims of domestic violence. Plus the state has no right imposing external standards of viability on a woman’s right to choose when ultimately her physician makes that determination on a case-by-case basis. A woman’s mental health is also an important factor to consider in late-term abortion decisions. Ultimately, a woman's body is her domain, not an incubator over which the state has final control. Since technology will likely keep pushing back the age of viability, women could eventually lose the right to choose altogether. Banning abortions after 20 weeks would thus set a terrible precedent, making it that much easier to justify further incremental encroachments on this fundamental right. So what do you think? Is fetal viability a reasonable cut-off point for the right to choose? Should we define viability differently? Should we have a different standard for when the state has a right to intervene? Or should the woman’s right to choose be absolute, without state interference? Join us at the next SFDebate to explore and debate these questions. Further reading:

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    The SF Debate Meetup is an open forum for discussion on the events of our time. We have three goals UNDERSTAND OTHER POINTS OF VIEW With so much news available to us, it is easy to fall into the trap of relying on sources that simply support and reinforce our own limited beliefs. The SF Debate Meetup is a chance for you to expand your perspectives and understanding. We believe that when opinions are discussed in public, our critical faculties are sharpened as we are exposed to diverse viewpoints that we may not have considered before. DEVELOP YOUR PERSUASIVE SKILLS If you want to be able to convince others of your ideas; if you want to change the world we live in, SFdebate is the forum for you. Consider SFdebate to be a 'dojo' for persuasive speaking. It is a place where you will not only be exposed to opposing points of view, but a safe place where you will be encouraged to find and speak up for yours. HAVE FUN, MAKE FRIENDS SFDebate is also good fun. It is a meeting of minds, and we follow every meeting with drinks , a bite to eat, and some drunken debate at a nearby bar/restaurant. More info at

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