Kathy Schiffer is a Catholic blogger. In addition to her blog Seasons of Grace, her articles have appeared in the National Catholic Register, Aleteia, Zenit, the Michigan Catholic, Legatus Magazine, and other Catholic publications. She’s worked for Catholic and other Christian ministries since 1988, as radio producer, director of special events and media relations coordinator. Kathy and her husband, Deacon Jerry Schiffer, have three adult children.
As opponents of abortion commemorated the 44th anniversary of the Roe v. Wade decision which legalized abortion across America, The Atlantic has embarrassed itself with a woefully uninformed post alleging that fetal heartbeats evident on ultrasounds are “imaginary.”
The magazine, after claiming that there is “no heart to speak of” in a six-week-old fetus, was forced to issue a formal retraction after a twitterstorm of protests broke out. It also changed its inflammatory and inaccurate headline, which originally read:
“How the Ultrasound Pushed the Idea That a Fetus Is a Person: The technology has been used to create an imaginary heartbeat and sped-up videos that falsely depict a response to stimulus.”
The headline has since been toned down, although the magazine's pro-abortion bias is still evident. It now reads:
“How Ultrasound Became Political: The technology has been used to create sped-up videos that falsely depict a response to stimulus.”
The change wasn't made in time, though; Breitbart News, in an article by Catholic writer Dr. Thomas Williams, shares a screenprint of the original headline:
Williams also exposes other errors in the Atlantic hit piece, including Weigel's insinuation that ultrasound is a weapon which male doctors use against women:
Weigel makes the ludicrous claim that ultrasound “made it possible for the male doctor to evaluate the fetus without female interference.” According to a 2015 study, women make up an impressive 85 percent of all residents in obstetrics and gynecology in the graduate medical education class of 2013-2014. This means that the vast majority of doctors wielding ultrasounds are women, not men.
Ultrasounds are not a weapon of the patriarchy, but an important scientific tool used more often by women than by men.
Perhaps Moira Weigel, author of the slanted “exposé” condemning use of a scientifically accepted medical screening tool, should have read the story of Dr. Bernard Nathanson. Nathanson, by his own admission, presided over more than 60,000 abortions during his medical career, instructed medical students and practitioners in the performance of another 15,000, and performed 5,000 abortions himself.
Dr. Nathanson resigned his position as Director of the Center for Reproductive and Sexual Health, convicted of his sin, after seeing a fetus on an ultrasound screen, as the developing human struggled to escape the abortionist's instruments. Nathanson regarded the new technology as a window on the womb, and he wrote in his 1979 book Aborting America,
“Fewer women would have abortions if wombs had windows.”
After his conversion to the pro-life perspective, Nathanson admitted that one of the abortions he'd performed had been his own son or daughter – a child conceived with a girlfriend. In his moving autobiography Hand of God (1996), Nathanson confessed his own heartlessness at the time:
“I swear to you, I had no feelings aside from the sense of accomplishment, the pride of expertise.”
Timed for release in time for the annual March for Life, the Atlantic article was intended to invalidate ultrasound as evidence of fetal personhood. But in actuality, ultrasounds do produce positive results for pro-life centers which, as part of their mission to offer honest and complete information to expectant mothers, show the image of the developing fetus to women who are abortion-minded. The sight of her own child, fully dependent upon the mother for life, is a strong impetus for a woman to seek solutions such as adoption or other assistance, rather than killing the life in her womb.
The Knights of Columbus, recognizing the positive effect of ultrasounds in helping a pregnant woman conceptualize her child and choose life, have stepped up to provide ultrasound machines to pregnancy help centers across America. Since 2009, state and local Knights of Columbus councils have teamed up with the Supreme Council to fund over 752 ultrasound machines, costing over $36 million, for placement in pro-life pregnancy care centers in all 50 states, as well as in Canada, Guatemala, Jamaica and Peru.