RSS
Ohio's testifying fetus: Mere stunt, or potent anti-abortion statement?
A 9-week-old fetus will "testify," controversially, via ultrasound during debate on an Ohio bill that would all but ban abortions
An ultrasound image of a fetus just over nine weeks: In Ohio, two fetuses will "testify" in support of an anti-abortion law.
An ultrasound image of a fetus just over nine weeks: In Ohio, two fetuses will "testify" in support of an anti-abortion law.
CC BY: Abigail Batchelder
A

nti-abortion activists in Ohio on Wednesday are calling two fetuses — one just 9 weeks old — to "testify" from the womb, using an ultrasound, on a bill that would ban abortions once a fetal heartbeat can be detected (which is typically possible just a few weeks into a pregnancy). "Legislators will be able to see and hear the beating heart of a baby in the womb — just like the ones the Heartbeat Bill will protect," said Janet Porter, president of anti-abortion group Faith2Action. But even Ohio Right to Life is skeptical, saying "there is no scenario" in which the legislation, if passed, would survive a court challenge. So is this just a gimmick, or an important reminder of what's at stake in the abortion debate?

What a shameless PR stunt: How "contemptible," says Melissa McEwan at Shakesville. "Wheeling in a pregnant woman so her fetus can 'testify'" will turn the Ohio House Health Committee into a "sideshow." The purpose here is to distract attention from the real issue: Women are "autonomous human beings" with the right to control their own bodies. This bill would make it illegal for them to decide what's best for themselves, which amounts to "state-sponsored terrorism."
"Sure"

The unborn deserve to be heard: A heartbeat is all that unborn children have to "'testify' to their humanity," says Peter Smith at LifeSiteNews. As Porter says, it is not unreasonable to ask legislators to see an unborn child's moving arms, and listen to its beating heart, before voting on abortion issues. These may be the youngest witnesses ever to testify before this committee, but the bill's supporters believe they deserve to be heard.
"Unborn babies to 'testify' in hearing on Ohio 'Heartbeat Bill'"

Women are the ones who must be heard: It's fitting that the fetus will "testify" while "the woman who is pregnant with it sits there in silence," says Kim Conte at The Stir. This bill would deny women "any part of the decision" on whether to see a pregnancy through to birth. The Supreme Court has ruled that women have the right to abortion until the fetus is "viable" (about seven months into a pregnancy). A heartbeat can be detected after 18 days — before most women know they're pregnant — so it would eliminate women's right to choose.
"This Ohio fetus can walk, talk and testify at a hearing!"

EDITORS' PICKS

THE WEEK'S AUDIOPHILE PODCASTS: LISTEN SMARTER

Subscribe to the Week