A nonprofit organization for sexual and reproductive health research and advocacy, the Guttmacher Institute said, laws that ban abortions when a fetal heartbeat is detected or at six weeks of pregnancy have been passed by lawmakers in nine states in the United States.
For instance, Idaho, South Carolina, Texas, and Idaho passed laws this year to limit abortion to the first weeks of pregnancy before detecting an embryonic heartbeat.
South Carolina and Idaho made exceptions for medical emergencies, Live Action reported, although as mentioned, abortion is never medically essential for babies conceived in either incest or rape.
The first state mentioned also included an exception in fetal diagnosis cases. Such exceptions convey the message that all human embryos with heartbeats are humans, worthy of protection unless tragic events cause their conception, have a health condition, or the lives of mothers are at risk.
6 Weeks of Pregnancy
A Live Science report specified that so far, in 2021, 11 states in all have passed 90 laws meant to limit abortion, the most in one year since the Roe v. Wade ruling in 1973.
However, many people do not completely understand what "fetal heartbeat" at six weeks of pregnancy stated in the heartbeat bill exactly means.
According to the medical director of Fetal Care Center at Nicklaus Children's Hospital in Miami, Dr. Saima Aftab, an ultrasound can identify a small flutter in the site that will become the baby at six weeks of pregnancy's future heart.
Such a flutter takes place, the doctor explained, because the group of cells will become the heart's future pacemaker gains the ability to fire electrical signals.
However, the heart is far from completely formed at this pregnancy stage, and the beat is not audible yet. If a doctor puts a stethoscope up to a woman's belly this early on in her pregnancy, any heartbeat would not be audible.
Additionally, an Eminetra report said the baby cannot be called a "foetation" yet until the eighth week of pregnancy. What's more, according to Cleveland Clinic is that it is not until the pregnancy's eighth week that the baby can be called "a fetus." Therefore, before that, it remains regarded as an embryo.
The said report also specified that it's only from the 13th to 16th week when the baby's heartbeat may then be heard through the use of an instrument also known as doppler.
It has only been during the past few decades, explained Aftab, that doctors have been able to detect the flutter at six weeks because of the use of more advanced ultrasound technologies. In the past, the technology was not advanced enough to detect the flutter that early during pregnancy.
The Time of 'Organogenesis'
Even though a lot of weight appears to be put on identifying this flutter, "by no means does it translate" feasibility of the heart, or sustainability of pregnancy explained Aftab.
The medical expert added that the heart remains to have a lot of development before it gets completely formed.
Certainly, the whole first trimester during pregnancy is a time of the formation of organs or organogenesis, continued explaining Aftab.
Following the flutter detection at six weeks, there's the continuous development of the heart muscle over the following four to six weeks, going through the folding and bending that should open for the heart for its final shape to be taken. The doctor also said many developments in the heart are still ongoing during the first trimester of pregnancy.
Related report about the Restrictive Abortion Law in the US is shown on ABC News's YouTube video below:
Check out more news and information on Pregnancy in Science Times.