Wednesday, November 1, Congress is hearing the Heartbeat Protection Act which would ban abortions after a heartbeat is detected–effectively banning abortion at six weeks. Many women don’t even know they’re pregnant at six weeks. The House passed a bill in October that bans abortion at 20 weeks, so GOP leaders are wanting to follow their momentum for this unconstitutional, medically unsupported abortion ban.
Because “heartbeat bills” target abortion care so early in pregnancy, they amount to total abortion bans. They’re wildly misleading and, like many anti-choice bills, based on junk science.
“When you’re talking about a fetus, the term ‘heartbeat’ isn’t even really accurate,” HuffPost‘s Erin Schumaker reported.
A fetal heartbeat is typically detectable at around five or six weeks into a pregnancy, according to Dr. Rebecca Cohen, an assistant professor of obstetrics and gynecology at the University of Colorado.
“It’s not a fully formed heart like you would understand from looking at an adult or even a young child,” Cohen said. “It’s a very early structure. We can see it on the ultrasound, but it’s not a heart, a fully developed organ, by any means.”
Moreover, cardiac activity isn’t a credible measure of fetal viability. This preliminary activity starts at a point in the pregnancy where there’s still a significant risk of miscarriage, and no real guarantee that the pregnancy will continue to be a healthy, uncomplicated one.
Total abortion bans are among the nation’s most extreme anti-choice measures, and federal courts have generally agreed, declaring them unconstitutional. That hasn’t stopped King from pursuing the ban from his position of power in Congress.
King admitted at a Capitol Hill press conference alongside Porter, herself considered too extreme for Christian talk radio, that his bill serves the same function as a total abortion ban. Porter persuaded King to act while both attended the funeral of Phyllis Schlafly, the notorious Equal Rights Amendment opponent, as People For the American Way’s Right Wing Watch first reported.
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