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Protesters on both sides of the abortion issue gather in front of the U.S. Supreme Court building during the Right To Life March, on January 18, 2019 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images)
Protesters on both sides of the abortion issue gather in front of the U.S. Supreme Court building during the Right To Life March, on January 18, 2019 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images)

Misleading

‘Heartbeat bills’ should be renamed, gynecologists say, since 6-week-old embryos lack hearts

By WITW Staff on April 29, 2019

Top gynecologists are speaking out about the passage of so-called “fetal heartbeat bills,” condemning them as misleading attempts to ban abortion outright by implying that a six-week old embryo is like an infant.

“These bills present the idea that there’s something that looks like what you or a person on the street would call a baby — a thing that’s almost ready to go for a walk,” said Dr. Jen Gunter, a gynecologist famous for her efforts debunking misinformation about vaginal health on her popular blog. “In reality, you’re talking about something that’s millimeters in size and doesn’t look anything like that.”

At six weeks of development, Gunter noted, an embryo doesn’t even yet have a heart. The so-called “heartbeat” that anti-abortion activists claim is detected, she says, is actually the tiny embryo throbbing.

“When throbbing of some tissue begins, it’s not a heart,” explained Virginia gynecologist Dr. Sara Imershein. “Really, we call it an embryo until about nine weeks from last menstrual period.”

The “fetal heartbeat bills,” Gunter asserts, are intentionally named to misleadingly reframe how the average person thinks about pregnancy and abortion. And in most cases, she adds, six weeks isn’t nearly long enough for a woman to make a medically informed decision about whether to abort. Risks to the mother and fetal malformations are hard or impossible to detect at that early stage of pregnancy — and at just six weeks, many women aren’t even yet aware that they’re pregnant.

Read the full story at the Guardian.

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