Planned Parenthood has changed the information on its website about fetal heartbeats in the face of a public debate between the pro-life and pro-choice communities on the issue.
According to internet archives using the popular Wayback Machine, the Planned Parenthood website formerly said that a "very basic beating heart and circulatory system develop" during weeks 5-6 of pregnancy. The Wayback Machine screenshot was taken on July 25.
But the website was changed recently and now claims that during weeks five and six of pregnancy, "a part of the embryo starts to show cardiac activity. It sounds like a heartbeat on an ultrasound, but it's not a fully-formed heart – it's the earliest stage of the heart developing."
Several states, including Georgia, have passed laws prohibiting abortion if a fetal heartbeat is detected.
Some pro-lifers believe the website was changed to mirror arguments made by Stacey Abrams, the Democratic nominee for Georgia governor, who said last week, "there is no such thing as a heartbeat at six weeks." She added, "It is a manufactured sound designed to convince people that men have the right to take control of a woman's body."
The Washington Examiner quoted the National Library of Medicine's website, which says at five weeks, "your baby's brain, spinal cord, and heart begin to develop," and at six to seven weeks, your "baby's heart continues to grow and now beats at a regular rhythm."
"This can be seen by vaginal ultrasound," the National Library of Medicine's website says, referencing an unborn baby's development at six to seven weeks.
The Cleveland Clinic website says that a "tiny 'heart' tube will beat 65 times a minute by the end of the fourth week" and that "at about six weeks, a heartbeat can usually be detected."
Mount Sinai in New York says that at weeks six or seven, a "baby's heart continues to grow and now beats at a regular rhythm."
Photo courtesy: ©Getty Images/Andrew Burton/Staff
Michael Foust has covered the intersection of faith and news for 20 years. His stories have appeared in Baptist Press, Christianity Today, The Christian Post, the Leaf-Chronicle, the Toronto Star and the Knoxville News-Sentinel.