Awwwww. This story is just precious.
A 9-week-old fetus from Ohio is about to become the youngest witness to ever testify before a state legislative committee.
The in-utero witness not only has developing fingernails, but it can also speak, and that it will do when it appears live before the Ohio House Health Committee via ultrasound to speak -- no doubt eloquently -- in support of the Heartbeat Bill, which would ban abortions as soon as a heartbeat can be detected. (In some cases, this is as early as 18 days after conception.)
Needless to say, abortion rights activists are up in arms -- apparently, they can't appreciate the inherent charm in having such an itty-bitty witness take the stand? And even other anti-abortion groups like Ohio Right to Life are refusing to endorse this move by Faith2Action (the group behind the bill).
The fetus itself has declined to comment, but that's understandable: No doubt it's waiting for its big moment in the spotlight Wednesday.
Here's how the proposed Heartbeat Bill would challenge the Supreme Court's 1973 Roe v. Wade mandate:
Under Roe v. Wade, women have the right to abort a fetus until it is "viable" -- which means that it is "potentially able to live outside the mother's womb, albeit with artificial aid." States can restrict abortion around the point of viability -- which is typically around seven months, although this is certainly contested on a consistent basis as new advances are made in technology and neonatal care.
Supporters of the Heartbeat Bill attempt to move the "point of viability" even earlier than previous bills, arguing that because a fetus has a heartbeat (as demonstrated by the witness), then it is "alive." The only problem? Even though a fetus has a heartbeat, that doesn't mean it is yet viable.
For abortion rights supporters, one of the most infuriating parts of the bill is that it would ban abortion before a woman would even know she is pregnant. Think about it: Many women don't know they are pregnant at 18 days. By the time they are even aware of it, their window has passed and they don't have any part of the decision.
Laurence H. Tribe, a constitutional scholar and professor at Harvard Law School, explained the inherent problem with the bill:
What they're doing is trying to push the point at which the woman's rights are subordinated to those of the unborn to a much earlier point in pregnancy.
And nowhere is this subordination more apparent than having a fetus "testify" in court while the woman who is pregnant with it sits there in silence.
What do you think the fetus will say up there on the stand?
Image via tenaciousme/Flickr