Just 22 days after conception a baby’s heart is beating in utero. In fact, recent reports show it might actually occur as early as 16 days. This scientific reality is the basis of the recent Heartbeat Bill, which is holding a hearing November 1, 2017, before the congressional Subcommittee on the Constitution and Civil Justice, a part of the House Judiciary Committee.
As Live Action has reported, the Heartbeat Protection Act of 2017, dubbed, the “Heartbeat Bill” (HR 490) would ban abortion after a fetal heartbeat is detected, usually at about six weeks’ gestation. The logic of this bill is simple: if a person’s heart stops, he is declared dead; therefore, when a person’s heart begins to beat, there can no longer be a question he is alive, even for those who don’t believe life begins at conception. A heartbeat is a universal, scientific, non-controversial sign of life. An abortion in the first trimester is described by former abortionist Dr. Anthony Levation in the video below:
In fact, in that third week of life, there’s more than a heartbeat that shows the signs of the humanity of the preborn baby. According to the American Pregnancy Association, at four to five weeks gestation:
Arm and leg buds are visible, but not clearly distinguishable. The heart is now beating at a steady rhythm. The placenta has begun to form and is producing some important hormones including hCG. There is movement of rudimentary blood through the main vessels. The early structures that will become the eyes and ears are forming.
The basic science about fetal development leaves no question, regardless of one’s moral or religious views, that life has begun earlier than most even ponder the question. The most significant issue regarding this bill is that scientific technology has metamorphosed so much since Roe v. Wade was decided in 1973. The original ruling held that abortion was legal until “viability” and yet the ruling said, “Viability is usually placed at about seven months (28 weeks) but may occur earlier, even at 24 weeks.” We know now that a preborn baby is viable much earlier than 7 months.
In fact, there are registries of the many babies born extremely prematurely who have gone on to live full and healthy lives. In the era of Roe v. Wade, these very real humans would have been dismissed as non-viable. Science is always advancing to keep up with reality.
That fact is why the Heartbeat Bill is addressing where science is now. At 22 days post-fertilization or approximately five weeks, the baby’s heart is beating, but that’s not the only thing we know about human life at such a young age. At this age the preborn child will display characteristics most would expect to come months later, as Kristi Burton Brown has reported for Live Action:
At six weeks, a baby will move away if his or her mouth is touched: ‘A light touch to the mouth area causes the embryo to reflexively withdraw its head.’ The Endowment for Human Development has a video of a six-week-old baby responding to touch here.
[…] A preborn baby’s brainwaves can be measured at six weeks. See the brainwaves for yourself here.
“At six weeks, a preborn baby’s ear is already appearing,” Brown continues. “These ears are preparation for the baby’s ability to respond to sound. Recently, innovative scientists discovered that babies can respond to music at a mere 16 weeks gestation – far earlier than previously believed, and just three weeks after the first trimester ends.”
The scientific fact is that life actually begins at fertilization; Princeton Pro-Life cites several references from medical textbooks, including:
The development of a human being begins with fertilization, a process by which two highly specialized cells, the spermatozoon from the male and the oocyte from the female, unite to give rise to a new organism, the zygote.
[Langman, Jan. Medical Embryology. 3rd edition. Baltimore: Williams and Wilkins, 1975, p. 3]
The development of a human begins with fertilization, a process by which the spermatozoon from the male and the oocyte from the female unite to give rise to a new organism, the zygote.
[Sadler, T.W. Langman’s Medical Embryology. 7th edition. Baltimore: Williams & Wilkins 1995, p. 3]
The Heartbeat Bill is simply the law catching up with what science has revealed. If there is a heartbeat, there is life. While some abortion advocates want to battle the political issue of abortion, it is impossible to debate the basic science of a human being’s heart beating. That’s all this bill does. The text of the bill is succinct, saying:
This bill amends the federal criminal code to make it a crime for a physician to knowingly perform an abortion: (1) without determining whether the fetus has a detectable heartbeat, (2) without informing the mother of the results, or (3) after determining that a fetus has a detectable heartbeat.
It provides an exception for an abortion that is necessary to save the life of a mother whose life is endangered by a physical (but not psychological or emotional) disorder, illness, or condition.
A physician who performs a prohibited abortion is subject to criminal penalties—a fine, up to five years in prison, or both.
A woman who undergoes a prohibited abortion may not be prosecuted for violating or conspiring to violate the provisions of this bill.
The heartbeat is the defining moment of life, even in confirming a woman’s pregnancy. As the Endowment for Human Development notes:
The presence of a fetal heartbeat confirms pregnancy, as long as doctors are certain to distinguish the fetal heartbeat from the mother’s. Usually this is not difficult as the fetus has a much faster heart rate than the mother. Sometimes during an examination, a woman’s heart rate will increase and actually cause the fetal heart to beat more rapidly.
As the congressional Subcommittee on the Constitution and Civil Justice holds its hearing on the Heartbeat Bill, its authors hope the facts speak for themselves and the subcommittee will advance the bill to the full Judiciary Committee so that preborn babies can receive the justice they need in order to live. Roe v. Wade was decided on the basis of the 14th Amendment, and in 1973, it seemed to the high court that equal protection under the law could possibly allow for abortion; however, in 2017, it’s clear that to fulfill the Amendment’s requirement that says “…nor shall any state deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws,” the Heartbeat Bill will provide due process for the preborn person who, in fact, has the right to equal protection under the law.