Texas legislators are doing it again, abusing the law to force-feed religious ideology on the public and specifically, to opress women. They’re pushing a ridiculous new law, following a lead set by North Dakota (seriously, if you’re looking for model legislation, don’t look to North Dakota).
On Thursday, three Texas Republicans filed a measure that would criminalize abortion services after a fetal heartbeat can be detected — which typically occurs around six weeks of pregnancy, before many women even know they’re pregnant.
I ask, what’s so special about a heart beat? I have killed cats in the lab by slicing out the bulk of their brain, and their hearts still beat. I have seen the beating hearts of monkeys, goats, dogs, cats, rabbits, rats, mice, grasshoppers, fish, daphnia, cockroaches — I’ve held the larger ones in my hand and felt them throb. You can take them apart, dissociate the cells, and put them in a dish, and they still beat.
They’re wonderful and beautiful, but no more so than any muscle, or any cell for that matter. A myocardial twitch is not the magic marker for ensoulment that you’re looking for, it’s simply a mechanical property of certain kinds of cells, a consequence of an entirely natural appearance of specific ion channels on the cell membrane and an orderly array of molecules in the cytoplasm. This is an arbitrary, emotional decision based entirely on folk wisdom that the heart is the center of life.
But you might just as well pick any arbitrary differentiation decision. Hey, stupid Texans, did you know that gastrulation is probably the most important embryonic decision in development? Maybe you should start testing for the expression of Brachyury in the embryo before allowing an abortion. That would let you set the cutoff point for an abortion at two weeks after fertilization! (I probably shouldn’t give them ideas, should I…)
But lets make no mistake and assume they’re looking for scientific, legitimate reasons to limit abortion. They really want to ban it altogether with no consideration for evidence or reality, for that matter, and in particular they don’t give a damn about the women they’re forcing their tribal wisdom upon.
So-called “heartbeat” bills are so radical that they divide the anti-choice community. In addition to criminalizing the vast majority of abortions, they also mandate invasive ultrasound procedures for women seeking abortions. In order to detect a fetal heartbeat so early in a pregnancy, doctors typically have to use a transvaginal probe.
That’s the bottom line: it’s Texas conservatives exercising their god-given right to decide what gets put into women’s vaginas.