Bills Helping Women Hear the Heartbeat Will Save Lives

Opinion   |   Cathy Ruse   |   Oct 17, 2011   |   1:56PM   |   Washington, DC

When Austin and I learned we were pregnant for the fourth time, we rushed to the radiology lab – not the usual response to such happy news, but this pregnancy followed three miscarriages and so we had a routine:  positive home pregnancy test followed quickly by a blood test to check for hormone levels and then an ultrasound to try to see what was happening. 

In prior ultrasounds we had seen a yolk sac but not much growth and, most important, no measurable heartbeat.  Each of these pregnancies miscarried between 4 and 9 weeks.

This time was different.  There on the ultrasound, at just 4 weeks, was the rapid flutter of a tiny rudimentary heart!  What a sight!   And then, what a sound!   I had always held pro-life views.  Always known that a tiny growing child in the womb was a living human being.  But seeing and hearing Lucy’s heart beat brought me to a deeper knowledge of the truth of her humanity.   It was my sweetest encounter with Thomistic epistemology.

A coalition of pro-life groups is embarking on a new effort to promote state laws nationwide that would do one simple thing:  require abortion practitioners to make the fetal heartbeat audible and visible to pregnant women before an abortion.   It does not ban abortion or restrict it in any other way.  It does not require abortion practitioners to make pro-life statements.  It simply requires the use of medical technology to impart medical facts.  Genius.

An Associated Press report yesterday quoted Ohio Right to Life director Mike Gonidakis, whose group is part of the coalition, as touting the measure as both legally sound and effective:  “This is it,” he said.  “This is the one that’s going to continue to save lives in the current court environment we have.”  The approach is supported by Family Research Council Action, the National Right to Life, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, Americans United for Life, and Susan B. Anthony List.

The pro-abortion crowd is sounding the alarm, of course, and falsely claiming this approach takes away women’s rights.  Nothing could be further from the truth.

Knowledge is power.  Let those little hearts beat! Note: Cathy Ruse is senior fellow for legal studies at the Family Research Council, a national pro-family group that focuses on pro-life issues and opposes abortion.