TRENTON, N.J. – Assemblyman Jay Webber said the significance of New Jersey’s Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month this October needs to be highlighted in the midst of a national controversy over fetal heartbeats.
In 2020, Gov. Phil Murphy signed Webber’s resolution designating October as Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month in New Jersey. It honors all those who have experienced pregnancy loss or lost a child, and promotes healing, comfort, and hope for grieving parents.
“Fetal heartbeats heard through ultrasound machines are very real, and for women, listening closely for them can confirm a healthy pregnancy or a devastating loss. Denying that truth only serves to confuse and hurt mothers and their families,” Webber said (R-Morris).
At an event in Atlanta last week, Georgia Democratic gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams said that there is no fetal heartbeat at six weeks of pregnancy and that “[the heartbeat] is a manufactured sound designed to convince people that men have the right to take control of a woman’s body.”
“I still can’t believe Stacey Abrams’ cluelessness. The heartbeats of babies in the womb (about half of which belong to little girls!) aren’t masculine tools of oppression – they are incredible and exciting sounds of hope and promise. To deny the significance of those earliest signs of life is to deny biological reality. Perhaps worse, Abrams’s callous views denies parents of children lost to miscarriage or stillbirth the compassion they deserve,” Webber said.
There is good reason for women to undergo ultrasounds early in their pregnancies. Research has shown the risk of miscarriage drops to about 3% after a fetal heartbeat is detected at 8 weeks. For women experiencing no other miscarriage symptoms, that risk can be as low as 1.6% when fetal cardiac activity is confirmed. Miscarriage, defined as the spontaneous loss of a pregnancy before the 20th week, occurs in about 10% to 20% of known pregnancies.
“Let’s turn the conversation back to where New Jersey is: focused on comforting and understanding parents who mourn the loss of children in the womb,” Webber said. “Mothers and fathers who had every right to dream about holding their newborn babies but who instead tragically leave the hospital with empty arms should know that our state and our nation support them and share their sense of loss.”