A sonogram machine sat front row at the subcommittee hearing on HR 490, the Heartbeat Protection Act of 2017, on Wednesday, confusing and later angering many who felt the machine had no reason being there.
The Heartbeat Protection Act aims to restrict abortion to just six weeks, roughly the amount of time when a fetal heartbeat can be detected on a sonogram machine. The House Of Representatives held a hearing on the bill Wednesday to discuss its constitutionality.
Partway through, Representative Steve King of Iowa, who is Chairman of the Subcommittee on the Constitution and Civil Justice that was holding the hearing, addressed the sonogram machine in the room. He showed a sonogram reading taken earlier that day and detailed the sound of the fetus's heartbeat and it's movements, according to Jezebel.
The point of showing a sonogram, of course, was to drive home the perspective that aborting a fetus is the same as taking away a life. If the Heartbeat Bill passes, it would criminalize abortion after six weeks and threaten doctors who perform such abortions with jail time.
The stunt worked, at least for people who already believe a life starts at conception. Representative Trent Franks from Arizona, for one, said that the sonogram's testimony "should speak to the hardest hearts," Jezebel reports.
Others, however, were not so swayed. Many found the fact that a sonogram machine took up a seat in this hearing utterly ridiculous.
As one person pointed out, giving the machine a literal seat "indicates valuing a sonogram machine over a person." That may not be true, but the Heartbeat Bill certainly values the existence of a fetus over the life and rights of the person carrying it.
Limiting abortion at all limits the choices of women and pregnant people of other genders, but limiting it to just six weeks is beyond restrictive. Many people don't even learn they're pregnant within the first six weeks, and in that situation they would have no choice but to keep the baby or risk arrest should this bill pass.
Sasha Bruce, NARAL Pro-Choice America Senior Vice President, said in a statement to Jezebel that this bill is clearly unconstitutional. Yet, King believes otherwise. "The constitutionality of this bill is evident," King said at the hearing, according to Jezebel. He says the bill would protect the "life and liberty of Americans living in their mothers’ wombs."
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