NPR on Texas's abortion law:
The Texas abortion law that went into effect this week reads: "A physician may not knowingly perform or induce an abortion on a pregnant woman if the physician detected a fetal heartbeat for the unborn child."
"At six weeks of gestation, those valves don't exist," she explains. "The flickering that we're seeing on the ultrasound that early in the development of the pregnancy is actually electrical activity, and the sound that you 'hear' is actually manufactured by the ultrasound machine."
That's why "the term fetal heartbeat is pretty misleading," says ... an OB-GYN and associate professor at the University of California San Francisco.
"What we're really detecting is a grouping of cells that are initiating some electrical activity," she explains. "In no way is this detecting a functional cardiovascular system or a functional heart."
The term "fetal heartbeat" has been used in laws restricting access to abortion for years. According to the Guttmacher Institute, which tracks reproductive health policy, the first such law was passed in North Dakota in 2013, but it was struck down in the courts. Since then, over a dozen states have passed similar laws, but Texas's is the first to go into effect.