Pro-lifers push back as left-wing pundits question science on fetal heartbeats after Texas abortion ruling

Media top headlines September 10

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Pro-life advocates are pushing back on media members who are questioning the science of when a fetal heartbeat can be detected following the implementation of the Texas Heartbeat Act, which bans abortions after six weeks.

The Supreme Court’s 5-4 ruling last week allowed the law to remain in effect, resulting in a media meltdown that stretched into a second week.

The law’s critics have lashed out at both Texas legislators and the Supreme Court, arguing that many women don’t even know they’re pregnant at six weeks and that the measure will dismantle women’s rights. 

And now the law appears to have sparked a debate over fetal development.

The College Fix’s associate editor Matt Lamb highlighted a few of the instances in which the media have quoted medical professionals to suggest the six-week heartbeat mark is misleading. 

“What we’re really detecting is a grouping of cells that are initiating some electrical activity,” Professor Jennifer Kerns of the University of California San Francisco told NPR. “In no way is this detecting a functional cardiovascular system or a functional heart.”

The Texas Tribune published a similar narrative with the headline, “Why ‘heartbeat bill’ is a misleading name for Texas’ near-abortion ban.” The piece quoted a few medical professionals, including Dr. Nisha Verma, who argued the activity measured on an ultrasound in early gestation is electrical impulses, not a true heartbeat, the outlet wrote.

A Daily Kos writer berated media for using the word “heartbeat” at all.

“Using the word ‘heartbeat,’ saying as PBS’s Yang did that the law ‘bans abortion after a fetal heartbeat is detected, which is usually after about six weeks of pregnancy,’ is just perpetuating bad science, bad medicine, and extremely deceptive politics,” Joan McCarter wrote.

She added that the “heartbeat part” is “pure spinning from the far-right extremist forced birthers.”

Pro-life activists and conservatives rejected the above language.

“The Trust-the-Science Crowd has a double standard when it comes to biology and human development,” Students for Life of America President Kristan Hawkins told Fox News. “A unique life with his or her own genetic code exists at conception, and a baby’s heart is beating at six weeks of life. A heartbeat is a universal sign of life for people who care about others.” 

Hawkins cited data from the American Pregnancy Association, Very Well Family, and What to Expect, all of which note that a heartbeat may be detectable by ultrasound as early as six weeks gestation. The Mayo Clinic’s week-by-week description of pregnancy also reads that at four weeks after conception, “the heart and other organs also are starting to form and the heart begins to beat.”

“On a battlefield or in an emergency room, people rush to help those with a heartbeat,” Hawkins added. “Only when it comes to prenatal development do the self-proclaimed smartest people in the room act as though basic biology is a mystery.”  

The furor over the Texas abortion bill didn’t seem to slow this week, with TBS host Samantha Bee offering the most profanity-laced analysis of the measure so far on Wednesday.

“But for Texas and the Supreme Court, the end of this summer has meant saying goodbye to people’s f—ing reproductive rights,” Bee, the host of “Full Frontal,” said Wednesday, calling the court’s conservative justices the “anti-p–sy posse.”

The Department of Justice sued Texas over the abortion law on Thursday, calling it “unconstitutional.”

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