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Suppressing the Science: Politicians are doing the abortion industry’s dirty work

Woman holds ultrasound images
Woman holds ultrasound images | Getty Images/Westend61

If you are patient and listen carefully, abortion advocates will sometimes tell you the truth, if only by accident. That’s what happened in a New York Times piece looking at the role of abortion in last week’s midterms.

In June, Celinda Lake, a prominent Democratic pollster, did some detailed surveys after the Dobbs decision to determine what kind of political messaging works best for pro-abortion candidates. Not surprisingly, many took her advice and kept their messaging broad and vague, labeling pro-lifers as “extremists.” Anything remotely fact-based or specific, such as discussions about when science says babies can feel pain, was taboo.

“Debating weeks is not where we want to be,” Lake told The Times. “People are terrible at math and terrible at biology.” In other words, abortion advocates know that science — which Lake euphemistically shortened to “weeks”— is not on their side. Instead, they ignored or suppressed what modern science reveals about the humanity of unborn babies for the sake of political gain. In this, the political class is doing what the abortion industry itself has always done — keeping women, and people generally, in the dark about the reality of abortion and its impact on mother and baby.

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Here are some recent examples of how Democrats followed Ms. Lake’s advice and ignored the science:

  • Stacey Abrams, as part of a concerted effort to deny that an unborn baby has a heart, boldly claimed that “there is no such thing as a heartbeat at six weeks.” While one of this article’s authors (Tara Sander Lee) studied heart development at Harvard Medical School, it doesn’t take this level of scientific specialization to understand that a baby’s heart is actively beating at six weeks’ gestation (at about 110 beats per minute). All it takes is an ultrasound. Indeed, the heart will have already beat nearly 16 million times by 15 weeks. This knowledge is easily obtainable from one quick search of the public database of scientific and embryology research. Perhaps it is Democrats who are terrible at math and biology!
  • In the wake of Dobbs, Sen. Lindsey Graham proposed limiting elective abortions after 15 weeks. Democrats immediately pounced, falsely casting the bill as a “national ban on abortion.” It merely limits abortion-on-demand at the point where science confirms unborn babies can feel pain.  At 15 weeks, all of the baby’s major organs have been formed and most are functional, each finger moves separately, we can determine left- or right-handedness by which thumb the baby sucks, the baby responds to touch and taste, females have most of the eggs they will ever produce, and life-saving surgeries have been performed on fetuses of this age.  How extreme!

It's no wonder that most Americans, when given information and a choice, support gestational limits. In June, a nationwide Harvard-Harris poll found that 72% of voters would limit abortions by no later than 15 weeks, including 75% of women, 70% of Independents, and 60% of rank-and-file Democrats. In fact, only 10% of voters support the position of most Democratic politicians that there should be no limits on abortion, up to the moment of birth. As well, 47 out of 50 European nations already limit elective abortion prior to 15 weeks. Who then is extreme when it comes to abortion?

Every day we are told to “follow the science.” We wholeheartedly agree! The science is clear. The baby isn’t mere “pregnancy tissue,” as National Public Radio recently described, that can be discarded without a thought. The unborn baby indisputably is a living, breathing, developing human being worthy of the life that has already begun.

And of course, many women, who have been told that abortion is an easy answer to their problems, face trauma and regret. Research based on 17 years of Medicaid claims data analyzed by the Charlotte Lozier Institute shows that chemical abortions are a growing public health threat, with the rate of abortion pill-related emergency room visits spiking more than 500% from 2002 to 2015.

What does it say about America if our leading cultural institutions, such as a major political party and their legions of allies in the media, do the abortion industry’s dirty work by ignoring or suppressing the science? What does it say about us if we let them?

Chuck Donovan is president of Charlotte Lozier Institute.

Dr. Tara Sander Leeis director of life sciences at Charlotte Lozier Institute and serves on the Biden Administration’s Health and Human Services Secretary’s Advisory Committee on Infant and Maternal Mortality.

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