Access to abortion is a human right. No woman should have to carry an unwanted pregnancy. Abortion helps women. These are the things I believed when I was performing first-trimester dilation and curettage suction abortions and second-trimester dilation and evacuation abortions.
During my OB-GYN residency, I became good at compartmentalizing. I saw no difference between a human embryo and the chick embryos I dissected in college . I had no qualms about sucking little babies out of the womb or pulling off their arms and legs and crushing their heads because I felt strongly that I was helping women. I even had an abortion myself.
Then, I had my daughter, and although I continued to do abortions while pregnant, after my daughter’s birth, I could no longer kill babies just because they weren’t wanted.
I still believed abortion was a woman’s right, but my view changed as I saw young women in my OB-GYN practice with unplanned pregnancies, who kept their babies and did exceptionally well, in contrast to those women with psychological and physical complications from abortion. Later, I realized I was not only murdering innocent human beings but that I was also hurting women.
It’s because of my experience in the abortion industry that I, along with 62% of Floridians, believe babies with beating hearts should be protected.
Florida is weighing the Heartbeat Protection Act, which would protect unborn children starting at six weeks. Unsurprisingly, pro-abortion advocates such as Planned Parenthood and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists are fighting against the bill. But their narratives go against medical science.
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For example, Dr. Nisha Verma, speaking on behalf of the ACOG, recently told NPR that a fetal heartbeat is not a heartbeat. She said, “The flickering that we’re seeing on the ultrasound that early in the development of the pregnancy is actually electrical activity, and the sound you ‘hear’ is actually manufactured by the ultrasound machine.” This statement is misleading because the ultrasound machine depicts movement and synthesizes sound during an exam of the fetal heart, just as it does in the adult heart. To say that the fetus doesn’t have a heartbeat belies everything we know about embryology.
After performing hundreds of abortions, I know without hesitation that abortion after six weeks stops a beating heart. The cardiovascular system is the first organ system to function, circulating the oxygen and nutrients every baby needs to grow. Video footage of a living embryo shows the heart beating rhythmically at six weeks gestation. At this age, the heart beats around 110 beats per minute. Research has shown that if a heartbeat is detected at this stage, a baby has more than a 90% chance of surviving to birth.
Another pro-abortion criticism of the Florida legislation is summed up in a Tampa Bay Times op-ed by Robyn Schickler, the chief medical officer for Planned Parenthood of Southwest and Central Florida. If the Florida Heartbeat Protection Act becomes law, Schickler claimed, “Countless people will die because they can’t receive the care they need.”
This is false. Abortion is not the medical treatment for miscarriage or ectopic pregnancy, and this bill would not prevent a doctor from delivering a baby early, if medically necessary, as long as the baby was cared for appropriately.
Moreover, every pro-life law in the country allows necessary and timely medical treatment to save the life of a pregnant woman in an emergency. Pro-abortionists who spread this kind of misinformation are confusing physicians and the general public and putting women’s lives at risk with their rhetorical games. Both the Florida House and Senate heartbeat bills provide medically appropriate life-of-the-mother exceptions throughout pregnancy, as well as certain exceptions for the health of the mother, and in cases of a fatal fetal anomaly.
The sad truth is that for the past 50 years, society has decided it is cheaper and easier to use abortion to solve the problem of unplanned pregnancies rather than offer resources to support mothers and families. This bill attempts to rectify that by providing more aid to mothers. A total of $25 million will go to Florida pregnancy centers to offer more free counseling, parenting classes, diapers, food, clothing, and financial assistance for housing and utilities. With nearly one-quarter of Florida’s abortions being sought for “social and economic reasons” last year, Florida’s Heartbeat Protection Act will provide the support mothers need throughout pregnancy and after a child is born.
Floridians are compassionate. They care about mothers and babies. They know that a baby in the womb is a human being and deserves protection. Most favor a law to protect babies with a heartbeat. This would save tens of thousands of lives each year. I wish this kind of protection had been in place when I chose to have my abortion. It would have saved my child and saved me a lifetime of regret.
LifeNews Note: Dr. Kathi A. Aultman, M.D., FACOG, is a retired board-certified OB-GYN and an associate scholar with the Charlotte Lozier Institute.