This article is Part One in a series on an advertising supplement being
sold by Minneapolis-based Human Life Alliance to colleges and
universities. In each piece, Robin Marty, RH Reality Check Contributing Editor, will examine one in the series of ads for misleading, dangerous and outrageous information. Robin introduced the series here.
A reader doesn’t make it far into the Icare advertising supplement released by the Human Life Alliance before getting hit with some major whoppers. In fact, you can’t even make it past the table of contents.
"No country has more permissive abortion laws than the U.S.—abortion is legal through all nine months of pregnancy for any reason."
Not true. In Roe V. Wade, the Supreme Court decided that states could regulate access to abortion when there was a compelling state interest in doing so overriding that of the woman’s right to terminate the pregnancy, and the court cited viability of the fetus as a threshold. No one anywhere in the United States can get an abortion "through all nine months of pregnancy for any reason."
In fact, according to the latest overview of abortion laws by the Guttmacher Institute, updated December 1st of this year, "[Thirty-eight] states prohibit abortions, generally except when necessary to protect the woman’s life or health, after a specified point in pregnancy, most often fetal viability. [Sixteen] states have laws in effect that prohibit “partial-birth” abortion. [Four] of these laws apply only to postviability abortions." In this case, "partial-birth" abortion is the term used by Guttmacher to describe late term abortions, rather than an actual medical term for any procedure.
Given how they start out, it should be no surprise that Human Life Alliance is unable to get even the most basic facts right. Their two-page section called "Save the Humans…Our Greatest Resource" covers the gestational growth of a fetus. But the time line does not match up with actual biological development. They begin at Day 1 – Fertilization, then begin to track the fetus through Month 1 (weeks 1-4). In their time line, a fetus is then birthed at 36 weeks.
In general, pregnancy is designated as typically 40 weeks in length, with the first two weeks being the two prior to ovulation. The fetus then develops for 38 additional weeks. Yet in HLA’s version, with Day 1 as fertilization, two weeks are missing from the time line.
The HLA time line serves a dual purpose. By creating their own line with only 36 they can speed up the development of the embryo and fetus. Stating that the heart beats at 21 days implies that at three weeks the embryo already has a beating heart, when in fact real development charts show that the heart beats at what is medically accepted to be five to six weeks.
The fetal development time line also serves to confuse anyone either considering or just discussion abortion, attempting to make it unclear as to a consensus on where a woman choosing an abortion actually is in her pregnancy.
But misinformation and confusion appears to be a key tactic in the Icare supplement, as we will continue to see. In the next article in our series you will see how HLA uses bad research and misinformation to attempt to guilt rape and incest victims into giving birth to their attackers’ children.