Newsweek Fails Readers on Abortion Debate with Bias, Major Science Illiteracy

  • Newsweek calls a baby’s heartbeat a ‘flutter’, expects us not to notice
  • Even abortionists like Planned Parenthood call it a heartbeat at 5-6 weeks development
  • Pro-abortion media tries to make a big issue out of the fact the heartbeat can’t be heard with a stethoscope, even though that doesn’t biologically matter at all 

OUR RATING: Trash Journalism, aka the Daily Beast.

Indicted Outlet: Robert Lea | Newsweek | Link | Archive | 9/3/21

The mainstream media can be regularly counted on to egregiously lie about certain hot button topics: race, gender, abortion. In the recent coverage of Texas’ abortion legislation seeking to stop abortions after a medically-recognized baby heartbeat, this has been seen in many outlets. 

Few were as bold as Newsweek, however, to try and debunk the entire controversy by merely relegating a baby’s obvious heartbeat to merely a ‘flutter’ from a clump of cells.

That one word is their entire argument: it’s not a ‘heartbeat’ it’s a ‘flutter.’ And this argument is completely wrong.

Major Violations:

  • Opinion as Fact
  • Misusing a Word
  • Lying
  • Weasel Words

Here’s what Lea writes in Newsweek:

On Wednesday, Texas introduced a law banning abortions after the sixth week of pregnancy, when the so-called “fetal heartbeat” is detected. Senate Bill (SB) 8 states that any citizen can sue an abortion provider if they terminate a pregnancy after six weeks, as well as anyone who assists the woman in getting the abortion.

The justification for selecting six weeks as a limitation is that this is supposedly the point at which the first fetal heartbeat can be detected. Yet, the idea is contested by many doctors and organizations such as Planned Parenthood.

When we talk about a “fetal heartbeat” at six weeks what we are actually referring to is a flutter in the region where the heart will form, Dr. Saima Aftab, medical director of the Fetal Care Center at Nicklaus Children’s Hospital in Miami, told Live Science.

Aftab said that this flutter can be detected by ultrasound, but is little more than the cluster of cells that will become the heart gaining the capacity to transmit electrical signals.

Let’s just get something out of the way real quick: the nation’s largest abortionist chain, Planned Parenthood. refers to what happens to the unborn baby at week 5-6 as a heartbeat. [1][2]

So, the idea that this terminology is contested by Planned Parenthood is not accurate.

LEA CLAIM RATED FALSE: Planned Parenthood does not call a 6 week fetal/baby heartbeat anything other than a heartbeat.

Here’s a screengrab from the Planned Parenthood website:

Rarely when fact-checking is a Reporter so obviously wrong, so obviously lying to readers, as Robert Lea does here. That he does so in the service of child murder only makes it doubly repulsive. 

Look at the language that Lea uses here: “The justification for selecting six weeks as a limitation is that this is supposedly the point at which the first fetal heartbeat can be detected.”

Lea is using weasel words to say that this is ‘supposedly the point’ where a heartbeat can be detected. There is zero good faith dispute on this matter, it is a matter of science, and the science has spoken: fetal/baby heartbeats are detectable and measured from 5-6 weeks forward. [3]

LEA CLAIM RATED FALSE: Fetal/unborn baby heartbeats are detectable from 5-6 weeks forward, it is not ‘supposedly’ the point a heartbeat can be detected.

Even at 6 weeks old, [4] unborn babies do indeed have heartbeats. [5] The ‘flutters’ being found by an ultrasound machine are impulses coming from the developing heart of the baby, not from ‘cells’. Or perhaps most accurately, they are coming from the heart cells within the center of the baby’s chest. By 9 weeks, just 3 weeks later, the baby’s heart chambers are fully developed. [6]

Things that the 6 week ultrasound typically uncovers: [7

  • Heartbeat
  • Size
  • Gestational sac/yolk sac
  • Number of babies
  • Location

And if the doctors cannot find a heartbeat, doctors will tell expecting mothers to come back in two weeks but that is often the first sign of a miscarriage. So if it’s just a ‘flutter’ then why is it considered so paramount for doctors to find the heartbeat and give the mother the guarantee that it is there and healthy?

Aftab said that this flutter can be detected by ultrasound, but is little more than the cluster of cells that will become the heart gaining the capacity to transmit electrical signals.

If these were merely a ‘cluster of cells’ that are ‘gaining the capacity’ to transmit electrical signals then why are they looking for a very precise reading on the fetal heart rate at being 103-126 beats per minute? [8] They are not looking for those flutters to be above or below that rate, because that’s evidence of an impending miscarriage. They are looking for a specific heartbeat at a specific rate. 

Here is what a six-week-old unborn baby [9] looks like:

Look Mom, I’m six weeks old!

Lea continues with more dissembling to justify killing children like those pictured above:

The flutter is different from what we picture as a beating heart and can’t be heard by doctors via a stethoscope. When a doctor listens to a patient’s heartbeat with a stethoscope what they are detecting is the opening and closing of cardiac valves. Valves that don’t yet exist at this stage of development.

Examine this phrase closely:

The flutter is different from what we picture as a beating heart

Yes, an unborn baby’s heart is different than a grown adult’s heart. This is not in dispute. But what is being observed is a heartbeat, it is not a ‘flutter.’

Here’s the definition of a “flutter.” [10

1: to flap the wings rapidly

2a: to move with quick wavering or flapping motions

2b: to vibrate in irregular spasms

3: to move about or behave in an agitated aimless manner

You can notice the common denominator: that it’s an irregular, erratic, uncoordinated motion. It’s just something ‘shaking’ or ‘vibrating.’ But that’s not at all what’s happening because the unborn baby’s heart is beating at a very particular rate, constantly. And if it stops beating, it dies. If it beats sporadically, irregularly, aimlessly or chaotically, the baby often dies. 

It is only with a strong, consistent, observable, measurable heartbeat that a developing baby, at 5-6 weeks development, will survive.

LEA CLAIM RATED FALSE: Lea describes an unborn baby’s heartbeat as a ‘flutter.’ The unborn baby’s heartbeat at 6 weeks is not a ‘flutter’.

One attempted defense Lea might try is to say that he’s merely quoting other doctors about the topic, but he’s giving them a platform by presenting their opinions as fact. There are certain things that are open to a difference of opinion, or a new vantage point, but there’s no good faith dispute on when an unborn baby’s heartbeat starts. And these pro-abortion views are not presented as marginal opinions, they are presented as scientifically avante garde, as the accepted opinion, which they are not. 

Here’s the next bit of dissembling by Lea:

The flutter is different from what we picture as a beating heart and can’t be heard by doctors via a stethoscope. When a doctor listens to a patient’s heartbeat with a stethoscope what they are detecting is the opening and closing of cardiac valves. Valves that don’t yet exist at this stage of development.

The ability to monitor a heartbeat with a machine versus a stethoscope isn’t a meaningful distinction. Whether or not something can be measured easily with one specific device is not a biological distinction or meaningful measure of anything.

A stethoscope also listens to the quality of airflow in adult lungs. A baby is receiving oxygen from the mother’s umbilical cord, but it is not breathing per se, although babies do ‘practice breathing’ in the womb later in the pregnancy. [11] Just because you can’t hear something on a stethoscope doesn’t mean that the biological function isn’t happening in the child, whether it is a heartbeat or breathing. 

The biological process can happen regardless of whether your stethoscope can hear it. 

LEA CLAIM RATED FALSE: Lea wrongly says that the inability to ‘hear’ a baby’s heartbeat means that it is not a heartbeat, but merely just a ‘flutter.’ A biological process does not need to be ‘heard’ by a particular medical instrument in order to exist. 

I feel like having to write that sentence out means that society has regressed to the level of infants in their scientific understanding, or more likely, we have such an incredible amount of arrogant, self-righteous pro-abortion zealots that they would rather redefine words and pervert science than to admit that a baby’s heartbeat is a heartbeat. This is the political movement that tried to drown out pro-lifers in Texas singing “Amazing Grace” by shouting “Hail Satan” after all. [12

They play these pointless word games to avoid admitting that they are murderous monsters of developing children. Robert Lea is an obvious prejudiced partisan participating in the agenda of abortion.

Another bit of missing context in the story is that there have been 62.5 million surgical abortions since 1973. [13] And there have been an estimated 500 million or more chemical abortions from chemical abortifacients. [14

It’s also worth noting, again more missing context, that Planned Parenthood was founded by the notorious Margaret Sanger, whose views [15] would be considered toxic, odious, and outdated by the cancel-culture standards of today, [16] but for some reason escapes such scrutiny by our cultural elites. [17

Sanger’s views and language are pretty indefensible to modern ears, yet the media never stops trying. They explain away this infamous letter from her [19] and excerpted quote from Sanger by saying that it shouldn’t be read as anything “sinister.” [20] And, to be fair, Sanger is not relating a secret belief, but she is definitely using token black doctors in order to mollify the then-black population’s concerns that her policies might be genocide.

And you know, I’ve found it to be a good rule of thumb in my life that if my actions could be misconstrued as ‘genocide’ by any reasonable person or group, I should probably reconsider my life choices. Politifact disagrees.

We called Dr. Aftab [18] to confirm her quote that it was merely a ‘flutter’ and did not hear back.

So in sum, is a baby’s heartbeat a flutter? Of course not. Newsweek managed to get most of the rest of the biology wrong here as well, but on that central point they could not be more wrong.

By playing these semantics games, journalists do all political agendas a disservice by denying common language for discussion, debate, and developing understanding. Part of the reason there is no, and likely will never be, any consensus in the abortion debate is because of cheap tactics like this: redefining words rather than engaging on substance.

OUR RATING: Trash Journalism, aka the Daily Beast.

Bibliography:

1 ] https://www.plannedparenthood.org/learn/pregnancy/pregnancy-month-by-month/what-happens-second-month-pregnancy

2 ] https://archive.is/A2PtO

3 ] https://www.healthline.com/health/pregnancy/when-can-you-hear-babys-heartbeat

4 ] https://www.doccheck.com/en/detail/photos/1516-embyro-6-weeks-estimated-gestational-age 

5 ] https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/when-does-a-fetus-have-a-heartbeat
6 ] https://www.babycenter.com/pregnancy/your-baby/fetal-development-your-babys-heart_20005022
7 ] https://www.healthline.com/health/pregnancy/6-week-ultrasound#reasons-for-early-scan
8 ] https://www.momjunction.com/articles/fetal-heartbeat_00475982/
9 ] https://embryology.med.unsw.edu.au/embryology/index.php/Week_6
10 ] https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/flutter
11 ] https://www.chop.edu/conditions-diseases/blood-circulation-fetus-and-newborn
12 ] https://spectator.org/55193_raising-hell-texas/
13 ] https://christianliferesources.com/2021/01/19/u-s-abortion-statistics-by-year-1973-current/
14 ] https://www.all.org/learn/abortion/abortion-statistics/
15 ] https://www.hli.org/resources/the-difference-one-racist-made-margaret-sangers-world/
16 ] http://www.blackgenocide.org/sanger.html
17 ] https://www.sba-list.org/newsroom/news/planned-parenthood-honors-hillary-clinton-margaret-sanger-award
18 ] https://www.nicklauschildrens.org/find-a-physician/physician-details/en/1194740357/saima-aftab-neonatology
19 ] https://libex.smith.edu/omeka/files/original/d6358bc3053c93183295bf2df1c0c931.pdf
20 ] https://www.politifact.com/factchecks/2015/oct/05/ben-carson/did-margaret-sanger-believe-african-americans-shou/ 



Join the conversation

We have no tolerance for comments containing violence, racism, profanity, vulgarity, doxing, or discourteous behavior. Thank you for partnering with us to maintain fruitful conversation.