The Corner

Law & the Courts

CNN and a Federal Judge Obfuscate the Fetal Heartbeat

Former Texas State Senator Wendy Davis attends a Planned Parenthood rally outside the State Capitol in Austin, Texas, April 5, 2017. (Ilana Panich-Linsman/Reuters)

Yesterday evening, a federal judge issued a preliminary injunction against the Texas Heartbeat Act, which creates a private right of action to sue those who assist a woman in obtaining an abortion after a fetal heartbeat can be detected, usually around six weeks into pregnancy. As Ed Whelan pointed out this morning, the law still remains in effect in important ways and the legal battle will go on.

In his ruling, Judge Robert Pitman sounded more like a mainstream news reporter than a federal judge: “S.B. 8 purports to ban all abortions performed on any pregnant person where cardiac activity has been detected in the embryo.” The phrase “pregnant person” drops a footnote: “The Court recognizes that not all pregnant people identify as women.”

In Pitman’s topsy-turvy science, the heartbeat of an unborn human being is mere “cardiac activity,” and all unborn children “embryos,” but some individuals other than women (men, presumably?) can become pregnant.

On this, Pitman echoes prominent media outlets, which have spent the past few years developing clever euphemisms to dehumanize the fetal heartbeat, nonsense such as “cardiac rhythm” and “a cluster of pulsing cells.” Just yesterday in a piece on the ruling, CNN went with “fetal cardiac activity.” Reporters have devoted entire articles to attempting to debunk the science of fetal heartbeats and have cited abortionists, whom they describe as medical experts, dismissing the fetal heartbeat as “a group of cells with electrical activity” and “fetal pole cardiac activity.”

These are the absurd lengths to which journalists and judges will go when they wish to avoid confronting the reality of a human being in the womb — and the reality of what abortion does to it.

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