Characteristics of the Unborn Child

20 – 22 Weeks Post-LMP
18 – 20 Weeks Post-Conception

In Oklahoma, an abortion cannot be performed on you if you are 20 weeks from conception or more, unless, you have a condition which so complicates your medical condition as to necessitate abortion of your pregnancy to avert your death or to avert serious risk of substantial and irreversible physical impairment of a major bodily function.  When an abortion is to be performed on a woman twenty (20) weeks or more pregnant, the physician shall terminate the pregnancy in the manner which, provides the best opportunity for the unborn child to survive, unless termination of the pregnancy in that manner would pose a greater risk either of the death of the pregnant woman or of the substantial and irreversible physical impairment of a major bodily function of the woman, which does not include psychological or emotional conditions (Title 63 O.S § 1-745.5).

Nearly all the organs and structures of the fetus have been formed.

At 21 weeks, breathing patterns, body movements, and the heart rate begin to follow daily cycles called circadian rhythms.

By 22 weeks the sense of hearing begins to function and the fetus may respond to sound. All skin layers and structures are complete.

The 22-week fetus weighs slightly less than 1 pound and measures about 11 inches.

22 – 24 Weeks Post-LMP
20 – 22 Weeks from Conception

Between 20 and 23 weeks rapid eye movements may begin. These eye movements are similar to those seen when children and adults have dreams.

With specialized medical care some fetuses can survive outside the womb by 22 weeks with survival rates reported as high as 40% in some medical centers.

By 24 weeks more than 30 million heartbeats may have occurred.

The 24-week fetus weighs about 1¼ pounds and measures about 12 inches.


24 – 26 Weeks Post-LMP
22 – 24 Weeks Post-Conception

By 25 weeks, breathing motions may occur up to 44 times per minute.

By 26 weeks sudden, loud noises may trigger a blink-startle response, which may increase movement, heart rate, and swallowing.

The lungs produce a substance necessary for breathing after birth.

The 26-week fetus weighs almost 2 pounds and measures about 14 inches from head to heel.


26 – 28 Weeks Post-LMP
24 – 26 Weeks Post-Conception

By 27 weeks the thigh bones and the foot bones are each about two inches long (about 5 cm).

By 28 weeks the sense of smell is functioning and eyes produce tears.

The 28-week fetus weighs more than 2½ pounds and measures about 15 inches from head to heel.


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