Stacey Abrams Corrected the Record on This Common & Dangerous Bit of Anti-Choice Medical Misinformation

Stacey Abrams, a Democratic candidate for governor of Georgia, refuted the anti-abortion myth that a fetus has a heartbeat at six weeks of pregnancy earlier this week. During a panel discussion in Atlanta on Tuesday, Abrams, who is waging a campaign focused on abortion access to replace Republican Gov. Brian Kemp, spoke out against the medically wrong word.

At six weeks, there is no such thing as a heartbeat, according to Abrams. It is a fake sound made to persuade people that men have the right to seize control of a woman’s body.

After being shared on Twitter by the Republican National Committee, the video went viral, enraging many Republicans as well as the account’s followers.

However, professionals in gynecology, obstetrics, and medicine agree that Abrams is right. At six weeks, an embryo is not even close to having a heart or a heartbeat. According to the New York Times, “the [ultrasound] machine itself, which transforms the waves of electrical activity into something audible, creates the sound of pulsing cells that will eventually become a heart.” The sound is all artificial.

The term “heartbeat” is “clinically erroneous,” according to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG), to describe sound. In actuality, there are no heart chambers formed during the early stages of pregnancy that this term is used to represent, hence there is no audible “heartbeat,” according to ACOG. The ultrasound machine converts the electronic impulses that indicate fetal cardiac activity into the sound that we recognize as a heartbeat, which is what expectant women may hear.

According to ACOG, a developing embryo is not considered to be a fetus until it is 10 weeks old, and the heart’s chambers cannot be seen on ultrasound until the baby is between 17 and 20 weeks old. It is simply too early to call the embryo anything other than an embryo at six weeks.

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Although Abrams was mistaken in saying that the sound wasn’t created to control people’s bodies, anti-abortion activists have used those comments and her video to instill mistrust and misunderstanding in their supporters.

“Hearing my babies heartbeats at 6 weeks is without a doubt one of the most thrilling, liberating, and most beautiful experiences of my whole life,” Meghan McCain wrote on Twitter. Simply put. It’s incredibly sick of Stacey Abrams to say this and somehow suggest that medical professionals fake fetal heartbeats. Complete stop

The “heartbeat law” is currently in effect in Georgia, where pregnant women are prohibited from getting an abortion after a “detectable human heartbeat” is detected. It does categorize the electrical pulses found in cells as a heartbeat as early as six weeks into the pregnancy.

The statute was declared unlawful by a federal judge in 2019, but after the Supreme Court reversed Roe v. Wade earlier this year, a federal appeals court determined the strict regulation could go into force right away.

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