CWA of North Dakota Testimony on HB1456
Presented January 30, 2013 before the North Dakota House Human Services Committee
Mr. Chairman and members of the committee, my name is Janne Myrdal, and I am the State Director for Concerned Women for America (CWA) of North Dakota. CWA is the largest public policy women’s organization in the nation. We are here today on behalf of our North Dakota members in support of HB1456.
Much has been touted using the word “science” in defending abortion rights; however, our challenge to you today is to vote with solid science not against it. A detectable human heartbeat in the early period of gestation proves to us all, as we all already know, that abortion silences a beating heart. The choice before each and every lawmaker here today then becomes simple; do we vote to protect human life or do we not. Medical science clearly shows that life begins at conception. Consider the following:
At 18 days of gestation, the baby’s heart begins occasional pulsation.
At 20 days, the foundation for the entire nervous system exists.
At 21 days, the heart begins to beat regularly.
At 30 days, the eyes, ears, mouth, kidneys and liver exist.
At 42 days, brain waves are reliably present and reflexes exist.
At 45 days, teeth buds are present; skeleton is complete; movement begins.
At 56 days, all body systems are present; he reacts to pain.
At 9-10 weeks, he squints, retracts his tongue, and will bend his fingers around an object.
At 11-12 weeks, all body systems work; his arms and legs move; he swallows, sucks thumb, inhales and exhales amniotic fluid, and has fingernails.
At 14 weeks, the auditory sense is present.
At 16 weeks, eyelashes are present; he can grasp, swim, kick and turn.
At 18 weeks, his vocal cords work; he can cry.
At 20 weeks, hair appears; he weighs about one pound and is about 12 inches long.
The legislation before us today could not be more scientific in its nature. The fact that a heartbeat proves that life is evident should be of no discussion here, nor in any court in the future for that matter. To deny such is indeed to deny scientific facts at their very core. The matter before us today then is not whether a detectable heart beat is life or not, but whether such life deserves protection under the law. CWA of North Dakota says yes it does.
HB1456 primarily does three things.
First, it requires the abortionist to check to see if the unborn baby the pregnant woman is carrying has a heartbeat. Second, if the child has been found to have a heartbeat, it requires the abortionist to let the mother know this. Third, all elective abortions of babies with heartbeats are prohibited.
The question that many ask about this legislation is this: “Is it constitutionally illegitimate?”
Abortion supporters often tout rhetoric about a woman’s “constitutional right” to abortion. But constitutional scholars have a hard time taking Roe v. Wade seriously. Abortion supporter John Hart Ely, former dean of Stanford Law School, admits that the Roe decision “is not constitutional law.” The Court reasoned: A “right to privacy” exists in the Constitution, therefore, this right is broad enough to “encompass a woman’s decision whether or not to terminate her pregnancy.” But nowhere does the Constitution mention a “right to privacy.”
“With Americans believing so dearly in a right to be left alone, it may surprise many people that the Constitution does not include the word ‘privacy’ and offers no explicit mention of it,” wrote Joan Biskupic, a columnist who covers the U.S. Supreme Court for The Washington Post. “When Justice Harry A. Blackmun, the author of Roe, invoked such a right to strike down laws banning abortion, he was relying on no specific wording in the Bill of Rights or in any previous court decision.”
In addition, abortion affects the baby—an unwilling third party—which brings us back to the Court’s inability to tackle the controversial issue of defining the beginning of life.
Michael McConnell, a professor of Constitutional Law at the University of Utah, writes:
The court can deny such protection to fetuses only if it presupposes they are not persons. … One can make a pretty convincing argument, however, that fetuses are persons. They are alive; their species is Homo sapiens. They are not simply an appendage of the mother; they have a separate and unique chromosomal structure. Surely, before beings with all the biological characteristics of humans are stripped of their rights as “persons” under the law, we are entitled to an explanation of why they fall short. For the court to say it cannot “resolve the difficult question of when life begins” is not an explanation.
It is clear that science has already given us a yardstick to determine if someone is alive–a beating heart. HB1456 applies that measurement evenly. HB1456 calls for an end to discrimination due to the size of a human being and its location. It calls for the protection of every human being with a beating heart–no matter their age.
“Our Founding Fathers created a nation based on life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. “Switch the order of these three fundamental human rights—putting happiness before liberty or liberty before life—and you end up with moral chaos and social anarchy” (Steve Forbes). Americans must ask, Do we wish to leave the abortion mentality to future generations? Is our country better off because of Roe? Today America stands at a crossroad. The choice is clear. God extolled the Israelites, “I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing; therefore, choose life, that both you and your descendants may live” (Deuteronomy 30:19, NKJV). The time has come to choose life—for the unborn and also for our entire society. The time has come to face the fact about the unborn child. The time has come to vote in favor of a beating human heart. If we were to choose between what I thought would pass the courts, what would be more politically convenient or what would not be controversial and life, we would choose life any day. We urge you to do the same.
We urge you to vote a Do Pass on HB1456.