MACKLEM: The heartbeat bill

FILE - A doctor uses a hand-held Doppler probe on a pregnant woman to measure the heartbeat of the fetus on Dec. 17, 2021. (AP Photo/Rogelio V. Solis, File)

When I was in early pregnancy with my first daughter, I rented a fetal heart monitor, but not because anything was wrong. I just wanted reassurance my baby was alive. To hear my unborn daughter’s galloping, vibrant heartbeat in those very early weeks was to hear the sound of life.   

In North Carolina, we have a historic opportunity to protect most unborn children starting at 6 weeks, when the human heart starts to beat.  

Currently in North Carolina, it is legal to abort unborn children up to 20 weeks. In this fifth month of development, the unborn baby responds to sound, can taste and sleeps in cycles. After the Dobbs decision, most other legislatures in states contiguous to North Carolina have recognized the humanity of these children by enacting strong protections from abortionists’ tools. South Carolina and Georgia have enacted heartbeat laws (although South Carolina’s law was overturned by an activist liberal court), and Tennessee, West Virginia and Kentucky legislatures have passed laws prohibiting abortion from conception. Meanwhile, all the other states to our west and south have limited abortion at similar points during pregnancy.  

Planned Parenthood in North Carolina is building its business luring women from across state lines to profit from the death and heartbreak resulting from abortion. Our state has seen a 37% increase in abortions since Dobbs, and we’ve only just begun. By 2024, the abortion industry here will likely double or triple if action is not taken in 2023. This session, North Carolina lawmakers should take a stand for the civil rights issue of our time and stop our state from continuing to be a destination of death.  

Wary legislators concerned about political implications should take note that in the 2022 election, pro-life candidates had tremendous success at the polls. Nationally, all 12 pro-life governors won their elections and, in many states, including our own, pro-life majorities were expanded. When truth of the pro-life message is articulated well and is contrasted against the Democrat party’s extreme position of unlimited abortion up until the point of birth, voters choose the side of life. In North Carolina, 66% of people believe abortion ends a human life, and nearly 58% hold human life begins between conception and a heartbeat. 

When the General Assembly considers a gestational limit on abortion, it should not be an arbitrary number for political expediency. Rather it should be based on facts: The current 20-week limit only saves one-half of one percent of unborn lives, a 15-week bill would save just 7%. A 13-week bill would only save 13% of babies — in other words, 87% would continue to be killed. 

A six-week heartbeat bill, which is supported by 55% of Americans according to a 2022 nationwide poll, would save 86% of the unborn babies who are currently being aborted in North Carolina. While NC Values Coalition believes life begins at conception and should be protected at that point, a six-week protection with exceptions for rape, incest and to save the life of the mother, along with increased support for mothers, is a reasonable compromise.  

With a supermajority in the NC Senate, a working supermajority in the House, and a state Supreme Court which will uphold the law, it’s time to vote on meaningful pro-life legislation. The impact of doing nothing, or not enough, will encourage the abortion industry in North Carolina to thrive, will cost thousands of innocent lives, and leave many women with despair and regret. This is our moment to establish in North Carolina that everyone is valuable no matter how small, and that life is a human right.  

Laura Macklem is the press and political director of NC Values Coalition.