The New York Times published an article this week asserting that a baby’s heartbeat at six weeks of pregnancy really isn’t a heartbeat — it’s “only a primitive tube of cardiac cells that emit electric pulses and pump blood.”
“Language has long been a battleground in the political struggle over abortion, and the sparring now centers on a word with deep resonance: ‘heartbeat,’” the Times reports. The upshot of the article is that “opponents of abortion” insist on using the word heartbeat and are not accurate when they do so. “Abortion Opponents Hear a ‘Heartbeat.’ Most Experts Hear Something Else,” reads the Times’ headline.
Ramesh and Alexandra have already picked the article apart, and the Times article concedes deep down in the body of the story that: “Doctors are partly to blame for the confusion. Many physicians whose patients are excited about a desired pregnancy will use the word ‘heartbeat’ to describe the cardiac activity heard on an early ultrasound. The word has even crept into the medical literature.”
So, doctors, medical literature, and even the Times have all routinely described that “fetal cardiac activity” as a “heartbeat” — but what makes the framing of the Times’ article truly absurd is a quick glance at the website of Planned Parenthood, the organization that annually performs more 300,000 abortions in the United States.
According to the Planned Parenthood website, during the fifth to sixth week of pregnancy a “very basic beating heart and circulatory system develop.”
The Times’ spin on the science and rhetoric surrounding fetal development is pure gaslighting. It’s little more than an attempt to make “heartbeat laws” that protect the lives of babies beginning at six weeks of pregnancy less popular.
When a news organization uses the words “cardiac activity” instead of “heartbeat” it tells you something: pic.twitter.com/4fccbkeoMN
— John McCormack (@McCormackJohn) September 3, 2021