Pro-life doctors refute ‘blatant misinformation’ on prenatal heartbeats

By Sam Dorman

A series of pro-life doctors say Georgia Democrat Stacey Abrams and others are incorrect to assert that preborn children’s heartbeats at six weeks are a “manufactured” sound designed to oppress women.

“The narrative that embryos don’t have heartbeats at six weeks’ gestation is a blatant example of misinformation that can be corrected by studying basic embryology,” Dr. Donna Harrison, CEO of the American Association of Pro-Life Obstetricians Gynecologists, told Live Action News. “In fact, at six weeks’ gestation, the embryonic heart rhythmically contracts to pump blood through its arteries, which flows to the placenta to exchange carbon dioxide for oxygen. To call this anything other than a beating heart is dishonest, and serves only to dehumanize preborn people.”

Abrams, who is running for governor, made her comments at the Ray Charles Performing Arts Center in Atlanta. “There is no such thing as a heartbeat at six weeks,” she said on Tuesday. “It is a manufactured sound designed to convince people that men have the right to take control of a woman’s body.”

Abrams seemed to be referring to the sound emitted from doppler technology, which allows doctors to track blood flow in preborn humans. 

Dr. Grazie Christie of the Catholic Association explained the process in a video posted to Twitter. “What we are hearing is a doppler signal of blood flowing in one direction and in the other,” she said, noting that this can be detected as early as “five weeks LMP [after last menstrual period].” She added, “that’s what we see when we put our cursor over the heart. We watch the blood – we can see the bloodflow on color doppler … as it changes directions, and we can watch the valves flutter and we can watch the walls of the heart also move as the baby’s heart beats.”

“Interestingly,” she said, “fetal heartrate is much faster than mom’s. That’s how we know we’ve found the baby’s heartbeat … so, Stacey Abrams is wrong. This is not just a manufactured thing. This is science. It’s called the science of doppler – doppler signals. It has to do with sound waves. It’s all very complicated but very beautiful.”

Dr. Kathi Aultman, a retired OBGYN and former abortionist, told Live Action News that “a picture is worth a thousand words.”

“By inserting a small scope attached to a camera through the cervix and placing it against the clear amniotic membrane we can see the embryo as it is developing inside the fluid filled amniotic sac within the uterus,” she said. She pointed to a video published by the Endowment for Human Development and noted that “we can see the heart beating and pumping blood at 4 weeks and 4 days from fertilization which is 6 weeks and 4 days gestational age (weeks from the last menstrual period).”

According to The Developing Human: Clinically Oriented Embryology, ‘The heart begins to beat at 22 to 23 days. Blood flow begins during the fourth week, and heartbeats can be visualized by Doppler ultrasonography,’” she also noted. “Our ears alone cannot hear the heartbeat of the embryo or fetus [within] the womb but that doesn’t mean it isn’t there. We can see and hear it on ultrasound just as we can see and hear the adult heart on ultrasound. The sound heard by doppler at 10 weeks is also a sound that is generated electronically. Using ultrasound to detect the embryonic heartbeat is the standard of care in obstetrics and we know that once the heartbeat can be detected within the uterus that there is a strong chance that the pregnancy will continue.”

Dr. Jeffrey Wright, a maternal fetal medicine specialist, compared the process to taking a photograph. “[W]hen you see an image of a baby with an ultrasound machine, it is accurate to say that the machine is creating the image,” he told Live Action News via email. “That does not make the baby any less real.”

He added, “If you took a selfie of yourself at the beach and sent it to your friend, your friend could accurately say, ‘that’s not really you, it’s just an image manufactured by your phone’. That doesn’t make your beach trip any less real. A tiny baby’s heart does not make enough sound for you to hear directly using your ears. That baby is wonderfully cradled inside a womb that your eyes cannot see through.”

“When the ultrasound machine detects fetal cardiac motion and blood flow, and then displays it as a moving picture we can see or translates it into sound we can hear, it provides us with clear evidence that a tiny human being is indeed alive with a beating heart.” Dr. Wright stated.

Abrams’ comments came amid a raging debate over the nature of human life in the womb. Part of the reasoning behind Mississippi’s 15-week ban, by which the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, was that science has revealed the reality of life for preborn children. Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) recently proposed a law that would enact a federal 15-week ban, and states like Texas have passed or considered laws that would limit abortions once a heartbeat can be detected (around six weeks).

Dr. Ingrid Skop told Live Action News that Abrams’ comments “demonstrate that abortion supporters are no longer able to rely on euphemisms and must confront the science of early human life.” Skop, who is an OBGYN, noted, “At approximately 22 days of life, a muscular organ begins to contract in response to electrical signals, propelling blood cells throughout the young child’s body. This is most definitely a heartbeat. Due to its small size, instrumental amplification through ultrasound and doppler technology is required for us to become aware of its presence, but whether or not we see it, hear it, or want to admit it, the heartbeat exists.” She added, “Discussion around the topic of abortion needs to begin by acknowledging the scientific reality.”

In a thread posted Thursday, Dr. Tara Sander Lee, who has a PhD in biochemistry and did fellowship training at Harvard, similarly said, “Abrams is completely ignoring scientific facts readily available in the public literature to justify her extreme position on abortion, which deliberately ends the beating heart of an unborn child.”

Sander Lee added that “Abrams is showcasing her complete ignorance of science and denial of reality.”

Editor’s note. This appeared at Live Action News and is reposted with permission.