Stacey Abrams draws fire for fetal heartbeat stance

The Whole Story

SELMA, AL – MARCH 01: Stacey Abrams speaks during the Martin & Coretta S. King Unity Breakfast on March 1, 2020 in Selma, Alabama. Presidential candidates and their supporters continue to campaign before voting starts on Super Tuesday, March 3. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

(NewsNation) — Georgia’s Democratic candidate for governor Stacey Abrams received criticism this week after a video went viral of Abrams declaring there is “no such thing as a heartbeat at six weeks,” claiming that the sound is “manufactured” as a way to convince people that “men have the right to take control of a woman’s body.”

Abrams, a former state representative, appeared to be arguing against the fetal heartbeat rhetoric that has become the legal language used in multiple state laws restricting access to abortion.

In July, a federal appeals court allowed Georgia’s 2019 abortion law — which bans most abortions once a “detectable human heartbeat is present” — to move forward. Cardiac activity can be detected as early as six weeks into pregnancy, often before a woman knows she is pregnant.

A 2021 Texas law also bans abortions at the “first detectable heartbeat,” although the exact time frame isn’t included in the legislation.

WHO’S TALKING ABOUT THIS?

The right. Of the news outlets who covered this story, about 97% lean right, according to Ground News, a NewsNation partner that measures news media bias.

  • Fox News: “Stacey Abrams says ‘no such thing’ as 6-week fetal heartbeat: ‘Manufactured sound'”
  • The New York Post: “Stacey Abrams faces backlash for claiming 6-week fetal heartbeat is ‘manufactured sound’”

Just 3% of the outlets that reported the news lean left, according to Ground News.

IS THIS REALLY WHAT HAPPENED?

In a viral clip, which was shared on Twitter by an account associated with the Republican National Committee, Abrams shared her views on abortion as part of a panel discussion:

“There is no such thing as a heartbeat at six weeks. It is a manufactured sound designed to convince people that men have a right to take control of a woman’s body away from her.”

Georgia’s Democratic Gubernatorial candidate stacey abrams
WHAT’S ANOTHER SIDE OF THE STORY?

Abrams’ assertion that there’s “no such thing as a heartbeat at six weeks” is misleading.

According to the American Pregnancy Association, a fetal heartbeat can be detected by vaginal ultrasound as early as 5½ to 6½ weeks. However, OB-GYNs have said the term “heartbeat” can be confusing because detectable cardiac activity is not the same as a functioning heart.

“What pregnant people may hear is the ultrasound machine translating electronic impulses that signify fetal cardiac activity into the sound that we recognize as a heartbeat,” The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) wrote in their “Guide to Language and Abortion.”

This is the second time in as many weeks that Abrams, who previously opposed abortion rights, has made headlines for her views.

Last week, during an appearance on “The View,” Abrams said she believes abortion should be allowed until the time of birth if a woman’s health or life is in danger.

THE BOTTOM LINE

Following the Supreme Court decision overturning Roe v. Wade, abortion is set to be a key issue in the upcoming midterm elections.

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