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Leading ‘reproductive justice’ professor insists fetal heartbeats do not exist

One of the most visible pro-abortion voices in the nation, a professor at Smith College, is leading the public narrative that insists fetal heartbeats do not exist at six weeks despite medical evidence to the contrary.

Carrie Baker’s faculty bio describes her as a professor of “reproductive justice” and “feminist public writing. She also writes regularly for the feminist Ms. magazine, has a monthly column in the Massachusetts-based Daily Hampshire Gazette, and trains scholars to write for the popular media, her personal website states.

In the wake of the passage and implementation of Texas’ pro-life heartbeat bill, Baker has taken up the relatively new drumbeat by some medical professors that fetal heartbeats do not exist at six weeks gestation.

“Not only is there no heart and no heartbeat, there is no fetus,” she wrote in a Sept. 7 piece headlined: “Media repeat junk science behind abortion ban laws: Check the science —There is no heartbeat at six weeks.”

But her citation to back up her claim actually disproved her claim.

Her original piece linked to what Baker described as a “basic embryology textbook” that states the “heart begins to pump fluid through blood vessels by day 20, and the first red blood cells appear the next day.”

It is actually a Merck Manual entry on fetal development written by Dr. Raul Artal-Mittelmark, retired professor and past chairman of Saint Louis University School of Medicine’s department of obstetrics, gynecology and women’s health, Just The News reports.

Secular Pro-Life pointed out the discrepancy to Professor Baker on Twitter:

“In @MsMagazine @CarrieNBaker writes there’s no heart at 6 weeks LMP, then links to a ‘basic embryology textbook’ which states ‘heart begins to pump fluid through blood vessels by day 20, and the first red blood cells appear the next day.’ I’m going with the embryology textbook.”

In response, Baker blocked Secular Pro-Life. The hyperlinked citation to the textbook was also removed from the column. Baker is listed as a contributing editor to Ms. magazine on her Twitter bio.

Monica Snyder, executive director of Secular Pro-Life, told The College Fix that “the biological reality is that a human embryo at 6 weeks gestation has a heart pumping blood through veins.”

“If no one cared about about embryonic hearts, there’d be no need for for abortion rights activists to lie about them.”

Snyder said Baker contributes to Americans’ false belief “that early abortion removes a literal sphere of amorphous cells, not an embryo with a functioning cardiovascular system.”

Stacey Schmeidel, the senior director for news and communication at Smith College, responded to a request for comment from The College Fix by sending an excerpt from the faculty handbook’s Statement on Academic Freedom.

It states that “the faculty of Smith College may pursue freely any subject of intellectual or artistic inquiry and shall not be subject to censorship, discipline or intimidation. Faculty are entitled to full freedom in creative work and research, and in sharing the results through publication, performance and exhibition.”

The college did not address Baker’s retroactive editing of sources.

“When members of the faculty speak or act as individuals and not as representatives of Smith College, they may write and speak on any matter and be free from punitive action by the College,” Schmeidel told The Fix.

The Statement on Academic Freedom does acknowledge, however, that faculty members ought to be aware “that the public may judge their profession and their institution by their utterances.”

“Hence, they should at all times be accurate, should exercise appropriate restraint, should show respect for the opinions of others and should make every effort to indicate that they are not speaking for the institution.”

Secular Pro-Life argues that Baker’s article “cites nothing but interviews and replaces arguments with ambiguity” while obscuring the information in the embryology textbook.

Snyder of SPL told The College Fix that “that level of development gives people pause, which is why activists like Carrie Baker can’t risk linking to an actual embryology textbook. The more people understand the scientific reality of prenatal development, the less accepting they’ll be of elective abortion.”

“[G]iven the inaccuracies and miseducation of her original article and, more egregiously, the furtive way she removed a source that contradicted her conclusions, we can only hope Baker teaches higher standards than she practices.”

Baker did not respond to a request for comment from The College Fix.

MORE: Medical professors, media now claim fetal heartbeats do not exist at six weeks

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About the Author
Chris Coffey - University of Michigan