Scientific American publishes unscientific ‘hit piece’ on pro-life movement

scientific american, roe v. wade, preborn baby, fetus, biology

Scientific American has published an unscientific hit piece on the pro-life movement. Titled “Abortion Bans Based on So-Called ‘Science’ Are Fraudulent,” the authors claim that recent pro-life laws in states around the country “falsely use the language and authority of science to justify denying people their basic human rights and inflict lasting harm.” The authors claim their critiques are rooted in science and evidence, but they contort the facts and issues at hand beyond recognition to serve their narrative. Here are some of the more wildly misleading claims.

False Claim #1: Heartbeat laws are unscientific.

The authors claim that heartbeat laws are “not based on science,” and that “no heart yet exists in an embryo at six weeks.” Yet rather than citing any research study or scientific analysis, the authors merely cite a piece in a women’s magazine called The Cut that says the fetal heartbeat is actually just “pulsing.” This piece, as Live Action News has shown, is deeply problematic; it fails to define what a heartbeat is and fails to disclose that the three OBGYNs cited in the piece all have ties to pro-abortion groups and abortion training centers like the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG), Physicians for Reproductive Health, and the Bixby Center for Global Reproductive Health. Even more tellingly, The Cut’s piece aligned with a prominent pro-abortion media narrative this year which invented a term — “embryonic pulsing” — in reaction to the success of pro-life heartbeat bills.

The authors ignore actual scientific research, including an Oxford study that concluded a human baby’s heart starts to beat in the womb as early as a mere 16-21 days after conception. And The Endowment for Human Development’s award-winning documentary, “The Biology of Prenatal Development,” shows a heartbeat at only 4.5 weeks after fertilization. Even according to the abortion giant Planned Parenthood’s website, by weeks 5-6 of pregnancy, “A very basic beating heart and circulatory system develop.”


False Claim #2: Abortion pill reversal is bad science.

The authors call abortion reversal “actively dangerous” and repeat a common lie that it is based on “a single study of six participants that was (poorly) conducted without an ethics review board.” As Live Action News has reported, a number of studies have demonstrated good preliminary evidence for the legitimacy of abortion pill reversal (a 2018 Delgado study, as well as Davenport 2017, Yamabe 1989, and Baulieu 1989). The Delgado study included a study of 754 women and found “reversal of the effects of mifepristone using progesterone is safe and effective.”

Contrary to what the authors claim, abortion pill reversal is safe and has promising research behind it. As the American Association of Pro-Life Obstetricians and Gynecologists (AAPLOG) has stated, “There is a very long and solid history of safety of the use of natural progesterone in pregnancy,” which is what abortion pill reversal is — the administration of progesterone to counter the effects of mifepristone, a progesterone inhibitor. “Natural progesterone use in pregnancy for the last 50 years has not been associated with any increased risk of any birth defects.” AAPLOG also points out that “using progesterone to counteract the effect of mifepristone is the logical extension of simple principles of toxicology and poison control.”

False Claim #3: Pro-life laws build upon a long history of racist and misogynistic policies.

Absurdly, the Scientific American authors try to argue that the pro-life movement is motivated by racism and misogyny. The reality is entirely the opposite. Planned Parenthood, the nation’s largest and most profitable abortion provider, was founded by eugenicists who believed that ‘certain populations’ should not reproduce. Today, Planned Parenthood still disproportionately targets minority neighborhoods and even take racially motivated donations, as Live Action has shown. Regarding the racism allegation, pro-life activist Ryan Bomberger has rightly pointed out that “Abortion is the most lethal form of racism.” The pro-life movement counts among its leaders many Black American luminaries.

Likewise, there is simply no evidence to support the claim that pro-lifers are motivated by misogyny, a point that Secular Pro-Life Perspectives author Nathan Apodaca recently made. For instance, the same pro-lifers who would “oppress” a woman by denying her “right” to abortion also seek justice for life-related causes that have nothing to do with “oppressing” women — like opposing embryonic destruction for medical research or IVF, supporting abortion survivor protections, and opposing euthanasia. As Apodaca concludes, “The notion that the pro-life movement is hiding its desires to control women is juvenile. Critics of the pro-life view need to do better than that. Pro-lifers argue that it’s wrong to intentionally kill an innocent human being. Elective abortion does that. Therefore, elective abortion is wrong.”

False Claim #4: Pro-life laws create additional risk for victims of violence or sexual abuse.

The authors claim that pro-life laws, and especially those without exceptions for rape, subject victims of violence or sexual assault to “additional risks” including “death and injury.” Abortion, which is never medically necessary, is not an answer to the tragedy of abuse or rape. As Stephanie Reynolds, herself conceived in rape, points out, “Abortion does nothing to give the woman the healing that she needs and deserves. Abortion does not erase the rape or undo the violence that the woman has suffered. Instead, abortion subjects this woman – and now, her child – to yet another act of violence that also cannot be erased or undone.” And abortion has its own set of potentially serious risks.

A Live Action investigation found that eight different Planned Parenthood locations in six states were willing to cover up statutory rape, a situation that would prevent justice and subject a minor to continued abuse.

Given so many blatantly false claims, it boggles the mind how a piece so detached from reality ended up being published by a journal that claims to be rooted in science.

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