- The Washington Times - Monday, October 25, 2021

Pro-life doctors are pushing back against the notion that most women don’t know they are pregnant by the time a fetal heartbeat is detected at six weeks, a claim made by pro-choice groups in lawsuits challenging Texas’ abortion ban.

“Modern pregnancy tests can detect pregnancy just one week from fertilization, as any woman trying to become pregnant knows. Our patients deserve access to better information about their healthcare than the lies offered by abortion industry lawyers or partisan medical providers,” the American Association of Pro-life Obstetricians and Gynecologists said in a statement to The Washington Times.

The American Association of Pro-life Obstetricians and Gynecologists has about 4,500 members and associates.

The association pointed to a peer-reviewed medical journal report dating back to 1992, which noted how accurate pregnancy tests were even three decades ago, saying a test could reveal a pregnancy within three to seven days after implantation.

“Pregnancy tests have now reached a level of sensitivity and specificity which is unlikely to be surpassed either by better tests or alternative technology,” the report read.



The Center for Reproductive Rights, along with other pro-choice groups, initially sued in July to block Texas’ new law, known as Senate Bill 8, which bans abortions after a fetal heartbeat is detected, usually as early as six weeks of pregnancy.

Their legal fight has been unsuccessful, and the law remains in effect.

They’ve argued in their lawsuit that “S.B. 8 bans abortion at approximately six weeks in pregnancy, a point before many people even know they are pregnant and roughly four months before viability.”

It’s a statement that has been repeated by mainstream media as the coverage over the Texas law evolved.

The Center for Reproductive Rights did not respond to a request for comment about what studies it has to support its claim. 

Lois Shepherd, a law professor who specializes in reproductive ethics at the University of Virginia, said it is possible for some women to not know they are pregnant early on because gestational age can include two weeks before conception.

“It makes sense that many women don’t know they are pregnant,” Ms. Shepherd said. “They haven’t gotten a home test and they’re not feeling any different physically.”

“Some women have very variable menstrual cycles, so a two-week late period is not that unusual,” she added.

The Supreme Court is set to weigh in on the Texas law next week after pro-choice advocates and the Justice Department challenged the law, saying it’s unconstitutional and violates a woman’s right to an abortion.

The justices will decide if the federal government can sue the state, given that state officials don’t enforce the law — private citizens do. They’ll also evaluate the private enforcement scheme set up by the legislation.

Arguments are scheduled for Nov. 1.

The Texas law bans abortion after about six to eight weeks of pregnancy, which is about the time a fetal heartbeat can be detected.

The Justice Department has argued that Supreme Court precedent dating back decades gives women a right to an abortion up until a fetus is viable. At the time of the court’s Roe v. Wade decision in 1973, viability was around 24 to 28 weeks of pregnancy.

Under the law, state officials don’t enforce the abortion ban, but private citizens can sue if they have knowledge a provider illegally performed an abortion after a heartbeat was detected. Anyone who successfully sues someone who assists in an unlawful abortion would receive at least $10,000.

Texas women have been traveling to neighboring states to receive abortions due to the law, according to The Associated Press.

The Supreme Court declined to block the law, leaving the ban in effect while litigation against it continues in the courts.

• Alex Swoyer can be reached at aswoyer@washingtontimes.com.

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