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Rep. Bette Grande, Published April 06 2013

Letter: Heartbeat is truth and life

It is regrettable that the important debate about life has been so one-sided on this editorial page and at other Forum Communications properties. Lost are important facts and perspective. North Dakota has been pro-life since before we were a state. The pro-life legislation signed by Gov. Jack Dalrymple passed both the House and Senate with strong bipartisan majorities.

If given the opportunity on these pages, supporters of these bills will gladly present the facts and the arguments to the people of North Dakota. But, instead, the editors choose to confuse, incite and attack. The people of North Dakota deserve better. It is a desperate attempt to shift the life debate to something – anything – other than the heartbeat.

The baby’s heartbeat may be faint at first, but it is very powerful, so powerful that it drowns out the tired old idea that we are talking about a “lump of tissue,” it drowns out the “cost of litigation” argument, it drowns out every lame attempt to shift the debate.

It is not up to the Legislature to prove that the baby’s heartbeat is compelling proof of life; science and medicine have proved that. It is up to abortion supporters to explain why it is still OK to kill it. Much has changed since 1973.

The editorials are also wrong when they say the heartbeat bill will not stop any abortions. The heartbeat bill will stop many abortions – it will save lives. Thanks to the media coverage about the heartbeat bill, millions of women have heard over and over that the baby’s heartbeat can be heard at just six weeks. That knowledge, that beautiful sound, does more to change hearts and minds than any judge or legislator.

If there is a long legal battle over heartbeat, the powerful truth of this heartbeat bill will be heard. I welcome that public debate. The Forum can continue its personal attacks, but heartbeat will save lives – it probably already has. And for me, that is what matters.

In 1789, William Wilberforce gave a speech in Parliament against the evil of the slave trade. The speech included this quote:

“Sir, the nature and all the circumstances of this Trade are now laid open to us. We can no longer plead ignorance, we cannot evade it, it is now the object before us, we cannot pass it. We may spurn it, we may kick it out of our way, but we cannot turn aside so as to avoid seeing it. For it is brought now so directly before our eyes that this House must decide, and must justify to the world, and to their own consciences, the rectitudes of their grounds and of the principles of their decision … Let not Parliament be the only body that is insensible to national justice.”

This quote is just as powerful today. Now the great life debate is finally before us – no longer do we talk about a lump of tissue or a blob of cells – science allows us to look into the womb to see the fingers, toes and face of each baby … and to hear the heartbeat.

Pro-abortion rights groups, too, have dropped the argument that the “fetus” is nothing more than a “lump of tissue.” They knew all along the “lump of tissue” argument was wrong, but they convinced many that it was the truth.

After-birth abortion is not new, it is not fringe, it is the goal of Planned Parenthood. I wonder how many of the well-intentioned North Dakotans supporting abortion are aware of that goal.

So now, borrowing from Wilberforce, the abortion issue is laid open to us. Everyone agrees that we are talking about life. On the one hand, we have loud and vulgar crowds proudly dressing as certain body parts and pushing for abortion on demand up to and beyond live birth, and on the other hand, we have the heartbeat. The path we take from here is in your hands.


Grande, R-Fargo, represents District 41 in the North Dakota House.