Abrams denied the reality of the fetal heartbeat, which is one of the most beautiful sounds in medicine


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Georgia’s Democratic gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams stomped on science when she claimed that “there is no heartbeat at six weeks. It’s a manufactured sound designed to convince people that men have the right to take control of a woman’s body”.

The heartbeats that she says don’t exist are my life’s work as a diagnostic radiologist. Day after day pregnant women lay on our examination table, breathless with anticipation. “Is the baby alive?” they want to know. They know they’re pregnant, but it’s not until the transducer descends onto the perfectly flat stomach and the pulsating whoosh-whoosh of doppler sound that is the heartbeat of the fetus fills the room that we can assure her that the baby lives.

It’s probably one of the most beautiful sounds in medicine, and it never fails to bring a smile to everyone who hears it, from mom and dad to the doctor and technician, and anyone who walks around the room. It is a sign of life, and a life very distinct from that of the mother. The mother’s heart beats at about 75 or 80 beats per minute, perhaps a little faster when she lies nervously on the table. But the embryo? The heart rate of the embryo is lightning fast and can often reach 160 beats per minute or more. A slow heartbeat is a bad sign. A steady, steady pace is cause for celebration.

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When Abrams refers to the Doppler fetal heart signal as “manufactured sound,” she shows a distinct lack of understanding of the basics of ultrasound. Simply put, ultrasound of unborn children is the culmination of decades of development of very early work using sound waves (sonar) to detect the presence of underwater objects like submarines. Ultrasound scanners can be considered a form of “medical” sonar. Doppler ultrasound, the type we use to detect the heartbeats of unborn children, works by measuring sound waves that bounce off moving objects, such as blood cells that pass through the heart of the fetus. The computer receives the data which it translates into images and sounds, so that we can see and hear what is hidden deep within the mother’s womb.

An operating room technician performs an ultrasound on a patient at Hope Medical Group for Women in Shreveport, La., on July 6, 2022.
((AP Photo/Ted Jackson, File))

Calling this sound “manufactured” is like calling the x-ray of a hand or foot a “manufactured” image. It’s quite true that we don’t have x-ray vision and our naked eyes can’t penetrate human flesh and see the bones inside – for that we have x-rays. way, ultrasound pierces the mystery of the human body and delivers precise sounds and images that help to understand the wonders that take place there, or in some sad cases the diseases.

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To enable us to peer into the human body, generations of scientists and researchers have developed a range of extremely effective and impressive diagnostic tools. Most were men, perhaps, but not all. Who can forget Marie Curie, who gave her life to the development of X-rays, dying from radiation that no one understood at that time? These dedicated men and women obviously did not aim to “convince people that men have the right to take control of a woman’s body.” They were in the business of imaging calcium in bone, or measuring the concentration of radiotracer in a tumor, or the rush of blood to the heart of a tiny embryo, because it would improve the lives of men. and women.

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For “fact checkers” who desperately want to cover up Abrams and claim it’s more appropriate to call a cardiac fetal heartbeat or “electrical activity”, it’s a silly argument that falls flat with any woman who’s ever passed an exam table, waiting for the magic sound to start vibrating through the room, or any man who held that woman’s hand. When the distinctive, delicious, surging, rushing rhythm fills the air, what we all hear is the sound of life. And life is beautiful.

CLICK HERE FOR MORE BY DR. GRAZIE POZO CHRISTIE


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