Where There's a Heartbeat, There's a Life Worth Defending | Opinion

Last month the Supreme Court announced what the pro-life movement has waited half a century to hear: Roe v. Wade is overturned. As a proud pro-life grandfather of 10, I enthusiastically applaud the Justices for recognizing that this terrible relic from 1973 has no place in 2022.

Roe was both a legal and moral abomination from the beginning. It mocked our nation's Constitution and paved the way for the abortion of more than 63 million innocent babies in the years since.

The men who first decided Roe invented a right to abortion out of thin air. By adding an extra line to the Constitution, they ignored one of the first sentences of the Declaration of Independence, which holds that we are "endowed by [our] Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness."

That right to "Life" and our Founders' belief in its primacy are foundational to a civilized society and the possibility of a humane government that values the dignity of its citizens.

The next sentence adds: "to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed." Well, Roe desecrated this notion by putting the abortion issue on a distant shelf above the people's reach, rendering their consent irrelevant.

For nearly 50 years, our representative government has not been allowed to represent the will of millions of American women and men who demand that the most vulnerable and voiceless among us be protected. Regardless of how scientific evidence and medical technology (like 3D sonograms) have revealed the humanity of a pre-born infant, lawmakers have been prevented by a flawed Supreme Court ruling from securing her right to life.

Until now.

With Roe in the dustbin of history, the abortion question returns to the democratic arena where it belongs. This most contentious of issues can now be properly deliberated at both the federal and state levels where, ideally, the most logical and persuasive arguments can triumph and translate into new law.

Clear eyes and compassionate hearts will serve us well in the heated debates to come.

Abortion protest US Capitol
WASHINGTON, DC - JUNE 24: Anti-abortion activists demonstrate in front of the U.S. Supreme Court after the Court announced a ruling in the Dobbs v Jackson Women's Health Organization case on June 24, 2022 in Washington, DC. The Court's decision in the Dobbs v Jackson Women's Health case overturns the landmark 50-year-old Roe v Wade case, removing a federal right to an abortion. Nathan Howard/Getty Images

Let us have clear eyes to see exactly what science shows us: that fetuses in the womb are human beings who develop with each passing second. These innocent children have their own DNA—and soon develop hands, feet, eyes, and lips. They can also feel pain. Just as importantly, they have the potential to grow up and flourish and achieve amazing dreams. Let us have the compassion to give them that chance.

Let us see clearly that, though the U.S. is an exceptionally heroic nation, we nonetheless are one of only seven countries worldwide that permit abortion for any reason more than 20 weeks into a pregnancy. That list also includes China and North Korea, which, like some U.S. states, chillingly allow abortion up until the moment of birth. Meanwhile, in most democratic countries like Germany and Norway, elective abortion is limited to 12 weeks.

Let us have the compassion to begin modernizing our abortion laws with ethical, common-sense limits that prioritize the safety of defenseless babies and their mothers, and by doing so, catch up with the rest of the enlightened world.

For those of us in elected office who sincerely believe that human life is a sacred gift from God in need of society's protection, our position is no longer theoretical. We now have a pressing responsibility to examine how public policy can best be crafted to adequately accomplish our stated goal.

I believe we already have an answer.

When an expectant mother visits a doctor for an ultrasound, the image of a beating heart is the first confirmation that a child has been conceived. When someone is involved in a severe accident, a medic will check for a pulse to make sure the victim is alive. In short, a heartbeat means life.

To legislate consistently with this truth, I introduced the Heartbeat Protection Act in the U.S. House of Representatives. This bill would legally prohibit future abortions from being performed if a pre-born child's heartbeat can be detected, with an exception for when a mother's life is endangered. It is a science-based, humanity-respecting solution suited to the new landscape in which we find ourselves.

The post-Roe world is here. As legislators in each state determine the extent to which they wish to defend life, pro-life members of Congress can simultaneously take action to make our beloved country a place where both children waiting to be born and their mothers are acknowledged and safeguarded.

As we all move forward, may clarity and compassion—and our consciences—guide us.

Mike Kelly represents Pennsylvania's 16th District in the U.S. House of Representatives. He is a member of the Congressional Pro-Life Caucus and is the lead sponsor of H.R. 705, the Heartbeat Protection Act.

The views expressed in this article are the writer's own.