The Left goes on and on about “Following the Science,” except regarding the abortion debate. Medical treatments and technology have changed and improved dramatically since 1973.
The power of technology and improvements in medical care have turned the abortion debate into pro-life arguments. Women can now see a baby in their womb, watch it move and breathe, take a photo home, and share it with friends on social media. That’s why the Left doesn’t use the “follow the science” mantra in abortion.
New ultrasound technology now allows doctors and parents to see a baby’s development in incredible detail – a medical review article states this promotes mother-fetal bonding. Improved treatments for extremely preterm babies have improved survival, with a 2022 academic study showing that 78% of babies born after 22-28 weeks of gestation survive to go home with their parents.
Doctors can now perform intrauterine surgery to treat conditions before the baby can live outside the womb, also known as “viability” — if the baby is wanted. That distinction is crucial. Doctors change their language based on that one factor.
To subjectively describe medical imaging findings based on whether the baby is wanted or unwanted is the opposite of science. To subjectively describe medical imaging findings based on whether the baby is wanted or unwanted is the opposite of science. Take, for example, a standard 20-week ultrasound. If a pregnancy is desired, the doctor will tell the parents at their first ultrasound that the baby is healthy and developing normally. If a pregnancy is unwanted, the doctor in most U.S. states will notify the parents that the fetus is not viable, so abortion is an option.
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The U.S. government is also showing this hypocrisy. The current website of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Office of Women’s Health describes the stages of pregnancy. It has a “your developing baby” section for expectant mothers, with important milestones noted each week. The first bullet at four to five weeks reads, “Your baby’s brain and spinal cord are starting to form.”
Despite the HHS’s recognition of the humanity of a developing baby in the womb, the Biden administration supports abortion policies that codify the “right to abortion” at any time during pregnancy — well above the viability standard set by Roe v. Wade. This policy already exists in parts of America. Currently, abortions in Alaska, Colorado, New Jersey, New Mexico, Oregon, and Washington, DC, are not restricted by gestational age, meaning late abortions are allowed. It must be clear where radicalism is.
In practice, long-term abortion means that a baby who could survive outside the womb can be killed in the womb and stillborn. Some abortion clinics outline the steps to complete these procedures, including injecting a drug to stop the baby’s heart to avoid violating the federal ban on partial-birth abortions. This is indistinguishable from infanticide and blatantly ignores the science of neonatology.
The U.S. is an extreme outlier in abortion policy compared to the rest of the world. We are one of only six countries worldwide to allow elective abortions for all nine months – in the company of China and North Korea. Our current laws are more radical than 94% of Europe. More than 75% of European countries restrict abortion in most cases at 12 weeks gestation. If the Mississippi law passed 15 weeks after the Dobbs decision stands, the state would still allow abortions beyond current limits in France, Germany, Italy, and Greece.
The majority of Americans do not support the radical policies of American liberals. Only one in five Americans believe abortion should be legal in all cases, and only 5% support unrestricted access to abortion. Nearly two-thirds believe voters and their elected representatives should decide the abortion issue. According to a Scott Rasmussen National Survey, almost three-quarters of Americans acknowledge that two lives are at stake in the abortion conversation. And by a margin of 2-1, voters prefer a candidate who would restrict abortion to the first trimester than a candidate who would allow it until the time of birth.
If the leaked decision in the Dobbs case stands, voters and their elected state representatives will again decide when to protect a baby’s life during pregnancy. Americans should reject abortion radicalism and demand policies based on 21st-century science and medicine. Then we would indeed all “follow the science!”
LifeNews Note: Heidi Overton, MD, Ph.D., is the Center for a Healthy America director at the America First Policy Institute. She is completing her medical training in preventive medicine and has a Ph.D. in clinical research from the Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health.