How Low Will They Go?

There’s a Planned Parenthood facility just a couple of blocks from where I work. One of the local right-to-life groups tries to picket it every hour that it is open, and then some. The long hours mean that there’s never many of them, and there constant presences makes them just another part of the cluttered urban landscape. I’m probably one of the few drivers who sees them as anything other than background scenery by this point, and I only pay attention because I’m hoping they do something bloggable.

I’ve been amused by the signs they have about fetal heartbeats. There seems to be a countdown. I’m pretty sure when I started this job they were at “You’re baby’s heart starts beating at 40 days.” Then it was down to thirty. I saw one not long ago one for twenty five.

Then recently a group took out a billboard just down the road much like this one:

How much lower can they go? Will stridency and competition push them till we start seeing signs, “heartbeat begins 12 days before conception”?

  • Len

    Will stridency and competition push them till we start seeing signs, “heartbeat begins 12 days before conception”?

    Ah yes. Like Thiotimoline disolves in water.

  • mikespeir

    Now, if they’d also post a picture of this “baby” at 18 days instead of the cute little girl they have there.

    • Rebecca Horne

      I saw a “great” anti-abortion poster once that featured a pair of scissors pointed at a 9-year-old boy’s head.

  • baal

    I read the headline and thought, there doesn’t seem to be a floor. In this case, the -12d heartbeat is sure to appear. Given reality, however, they’ll probably use something like, “we can hear all of the heartbeats of our children to come ending and the silence you hear today shows the enormity of the horror. It’ll be all of them!”

    • Artor

      I’ve already seen the quote, “Before you were formed in your mother’s womb, I knew you…” Pretty much the same sentiment, so it’s already been done.

      • Jeff See

        You’ve nailed one of the largest reasons as to why this subject disturbs religious folk so. Of course, religion was created long before science, and before we learned that many pregnancies actually end in miscarriage, naturally (SAB).

  • GubbaBumpkin

    “Every sperm has a beating heart.”

    • baal

      Under christian “homunculus theory” inside every sperm is a tiny tiny seed human just waiting to be planted in a fertile womb (land) to grow. This ‘people- are-plants’ metaphor might be informing the abortion debate too.

  • phantomreader42

    Fetus-fetishists lie without any shame at all. Why would anyone expect their assertions to bear any resemblance to reality or logic?

  • Jeff

    I always hate it when these groups use fully-formed, several-month-old babies in their advertising. As if that plump-cheeked little cherub with the bow in her hair is in any way similar to a microscopic clump of cells. I understand they’re going for the “fetus = baby” angle, and they probably even believe that, but it’s pretty clearly an emotional appeal – you never see *adults* on these signs, even though the text could be applied equally. But people tend to like babies, and get turned off when they think of Little Miss Cuddlekisses being sucked through a surgical vacuum.

  • Mark Joseph

    My heart started beating *really* fast just a few minutes before my daughter’s conception…

  • Leopardus

    The technically correct answer is that the cardiac cells (cardiac smooth muscle) do start to exhibit their regular, pulsating behavior (i.e. beat) at approximately 3-4 weeks gestation. The heart at that time is not yet fully formed, in fact it’s just a tube and the circulatory system isn’t formed yet. It is likely that the beat could be detected by Doppler ultrasound at about 10 weeks. By that time the heart is pretty near its final form.

    • 7Valerie7

      FYI. I gave birth in December and we heard and saw the heart (or, cardiac muscles) beating via ultrasound at 8 weeks. (And I know my conception date, so that’s not an estimated time frame.)

  • Jim Charlotte

    The part I hate the most is how inconsistent conservatives stances are on issues of “life.” An accurate billboard of their view would read “My heart starts beating at 18 days and stops beating at 8 years because of a drone strike.” You know, because killing a fetus is murder but supporting a military that bombs Muslim kids is okay and all.


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