How Does Heartbeat “Determine” Gestational Age?


Anti-choice politicians in the Virginia legislature are excited about having won over the Senate this year because now maybe move on the anti-abortion legislation that has thus far passed only in the House.

One bill both chambers are especially interested in?  Mandatory ultrasounds.  But the House version has a little twist.

Via The Virginia Gazette:

Delegate Mark Cole (R-Fredericksburg), filed House Bill 261, which would require ultrasound testing at least 48 hours before the abortion is performed. After the gestational age and size of the fetus are determined, a copy of the ultrasound image would be printed and permanently filed in the pregnant woman’s medical record.

“I think it’s a good bill and will enhance women’s health,” Cole said. “Certainly, I think women should make informed choices, and I think this bill would accomplish that.”

Delegate Kathy Byron (R-Lynchburg), filed HB 462, which is nearly identical to Cole’s proposed legislation. Byron’s bill proposes that fetal ultrasound imaging be done at least two hours before an abortion. In addition, the sound of the fetus’s [sic] heart would be examined in another effort to determine the gestational age of the fetus. [emphasis added]

Um…you can’t tell how old a fetus is by the sound of a heartbeat. An ultrasound can provide a flicker at a very early age, yes.  And tones can be heard later, but they don’t change based on age.  You can’t listen to a heartbeat to determine age anymore than you can listen to an elementary school aged child’s heart and tell how old he or she is.

A heartbeat has nothing to do with gestational age.  Doctors know that.  Apparently, lawmakers who write anti-choice legislation do not.

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