Using fetal heartbeat to ban abortion

A new law bans abortion after a fetal heartbeat can be detected, as early as the sixth week of pregnancy. Photo: A fetus in the womb

WASHINGTON, April 18, 2013 - In April 2013, North Dakota enacted the “fetal heartbeat” ban to criminalize all abortion services after just 6 weeks of pregnancy. “Notwithstanding any other provision of law, an individual may not knowingly perform an abortion on a pregnant woman with the specific intent of causing or abetting the termination of the life of the unborn child the pregnant woman is carrying and whose heartbeat has been detected.”

In North Dakota, House Bill 1456 would make it a felony for a doctor to perform a nonemergency abortion after a fetal heartbeat can be detected, which can be as early as five or six weeks. House Bill 1305 would prohibit abortions sought because a fetus has been or could be diagnosed with any genetically inherited defect, disease or disorder.

The heartbeat is society’s marker for life,” Grande, a Republican, said by telephone from Fargo.

The fetal heart starts beating during the embryonic stage of pregnancy at 22 days after conception, the fifth week of pregnancy. It beats about the same rate as the mother’s, which is typically 80 to 85 bpm when it is usually detected. Then at week five the fetal heart rate accelerates by 3.3 bpm per day for the next month. At week nine the fetal heartbeat tends to beat within a range of 155 to 195 bpm.

At this point, the fetal heart rate begins to decrease, and generally falls within the range of 120 to 160 bpm by week 12.

The new Bill is inline with more recent developments in fetal surveillance. The development of the fetal autonomic nervous system’s integrative capacity in relation to gestational age and emerging behavioral pattern is reflected in fetal heart rate patterns,” a report from Am J Physiol Regul Integr Comp Physiol. 2013 Mar 1;304(5):R383-92.

Fetal monitoring based on the analysis of the fetal heart rate (FHR) signal is the most common method of biophysical assessment of fetal condition during pregnancy.

Opponents of the heartbeat bill argue that it would ban abortions in some cases before the woman even realizes she is pregnant, which places an undue burden on a woman’s constitutionally protected right to abortion.”North Dakota politicians are now leading what appears to be a nationwide competition among anti-choice extremists to see who can do the most to strip women of their dignity and autonomy and endanger their lives,” said Nancy Northup, president and CEO at the Center for Reproductive Rights.

Late-term abortion bans have been successful politically partly because they play on Americans’ emotions. Abortion opponents use gruesome cases like Kermit Gosnell, the Philadelphia abortion doctor who snipped the spinal cords at the back of the necks of infants and who is currently on trial for murder, to push bans based on the observation that late-term abortion procedures are horrific and immoral. 

This new abortion ban goes further than Roe v. Wade, a 1973 Supreme Court ruling which legalized abortion up until a fetus can survive outside the womb, usually at about 24 weeks. 

The standard medical approach to use fetal heart rate monitoring by  medical personnel will now be used as a new criterion to determine abortion. 

This bill won’t sit well for pro-abortionists because it goes too far, nor will it sit well for pro-lifers because it doesn’t go far enough. But now, the infant heart rate will make the decision and there will be fewer infants aborted in North Dakota.

Dr Peter Lind practices metabolic and neurologic chiropractic in his wellness clinic in Salem, Oregon. USA. He is the author of 3 books on health, one novel, and hundreds of wellness articles. His clinical specialty is in physical, nutritional, and emotional stress. 

For more health tips go to Peter Lind is virtual staff doctor for The Alternative Daily 


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Peter Lind

Dr. Peter Lind has written five books about healthy lifestyle and specifically subjects such as food, diet, nutrition, exercise, and stress. He has written one thriller about agriculture genetic engineering that has been written into a screenplay. 

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