The debate concerning abortion in our nation is often bogged down by rhetoric and dogma. Because of this, talks about abortion are usually framed in the terms of being pro-women’s rights or anti-women’s rights, or degenerate into screaming matches between “pro-life” and “pro-death” factions. The National Organization for Women (NOW) even goes as far as to describe abortion opponents as practitioners of “anti-abortion terrorism.”
So it would be helpful if we could strive for the “civility” Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas so frequently calls for when speaking around the country, and having done that, to consider the facts about abortion that are not up for debate. Those facts, apart from rhetoric, name-calling, and references to terrorism, should be our starting point.
One such fact is that abortion stops a beating heart. When a women goes into an abortion clinic two hearts are beating, hers and the heart of the baby developing in her womb. When she leaves that clinic, only hers is beating. The heart of the developing baby has been stopped.
It is incontrovertible that abortion stops a beating heart and that such stoppage is the desired outcome when abortions are performed. (In other words, the abortionist’s goal is to still the beating heart of the developing baby and the goal of the mother who enters the clinic is to leave knowing that the baby will not come to term.)
To put it yet another way: an abortionist is a heart stopper, and the mother who gives the abortionist a heart to stop is an enabler.
Even now, I am overwhelmed by the spiritual, psychological, and physiological ramifications of this most basic aspect of abortion. But these words need to be typed because this primary goal of abortion is too often over-looked. Instead of being central to the debate it is like a golf ball lost in the tall grass of the rhetoric and dogma I mentioned earlier.
Some people are so desperate to justify abortion that they argue that a beating heart cannot be heard until such and such a time, and then extrapolate that abortion is okay up to that time. For example, a simple Google search of the phrase “abortion stops a beating heart” turns up people who claim to know that the heart of a child developing within a mother’s womb does not start beating until the tenth week of pregnancy, thus they believe abortions prior to the tenth week don’t stop beating hearts.
But as usual, life isn’t that simple. A beating heart can be detected on ultrasound at week six (which is actually week four, because a pregnancy begins with the two weeks of gestation prior to conception). So at the fourth week after conception, a beating heart can be heard.
What does this mean about all the developing babies that have been aborted between weeks four and ten under the misguided belief that hearts were not beating? It means those abortions stopped a beating heart en route to the ultimate goal of keeping a baby from coming to term. (For the record, talking “women’s rights” here or boasting of being “pro-choice” does not soften the reality of what’s going on.)
And there’s more, for a baby’s heart can be seen before it can be heard. It shows up as a flash (a spark of sorts) on tests run on mothers prior to the fourth week.
Therefore, the question we have to ask ourselves is forceful: Does this beating heart prove that the developing child represents a viable life?
President Ronald Reagan used to approach this question by saying that if he were standing beside an open grave, and they told him they weren’t sure if the person they were about to bury was alive or dead, he’d tell them to hold off with the shovels because he always wanted to err on the side of life.
To look at it another way: If you purposely stop my heart from beating or if I purposely stop yours, it’s murder.