Nearly 7 in 10 Americans Think Unborn Babies ‘Should Be Legally Protected’ if Doctors Detect a Heartbeat

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A new poll has found that 69 percent of Americans agree with the idea that “if a doctor is able to detect the heartbeat of an unborn baby, that baby should be legally protected,” according to pro-family advocacy group Faith2Action.

But the most surprising data was discovered when the results were broken down by party affiliation, with 86 percent of Republicans, 61 percent of Independents and 55 percent of Democrats agreeing with this sentiment, according to a recent Barna Group poll commissioned by Faith2Action.

The poll’s results are noteworthy for a variety of reasons. First and foremost, a baby’s heart starts to beat around the fifth or sixth week of pregnancy; that’s pretty early on in fetal development, meaning that — by agreeing with the survey question — respondents would essentially be calling legal protections for the unborn from the near-beginning point of pregnancy.

But there’s also a political angle: the poll is emerging as the House of Representatives prepares to take up H.R. 490 — also known as the “Heartbeat Protection Act of 2017” — a bill that would protect unborn babies once their heartbeat is detected — a proposal that is slated to be discussed on the House floor on Feb. 16.

The strict measure would “prohibit abortion in cases where a fetal heartbeat is detectable,” offering stringent punishment for doctors who would violate the proposed law.

“Any physician who knowingly performs an abortion and thereby kills a human fetus without determining, according to standard medical practice, whether the fetus has a detectable heartbeat; without informing the mother of the results of that determination; or after determining, according to standard medical practice, that the fetus has a detectable heartbeat, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than 5 years, or both,” the text reads.

While the Barna poll’s results showing majority support for a baby with a detectable heartbeat might be surprising to some, surveys have consistently shown Americans’ openness to restricting abortion far more than is enshrined in current law.

In fact, as Faithwire recently reported, the majority of Americans — including supporters of former Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton — want to see significant restrictions on the procedure, according to a Marist poll.

Majorities of both Trump supporters (91 percent) and Clinton supporters (55 percent) supported restricting abortion to the first three months. Additionally, of those who favor such restrictions, 74 percent want to see the Supreme Court rule on such a measure, adding up to about 55 percent of the nation overall. And it’s apparently an important issue to a great many citizens, as 59 percent said it is either “an immediate” or “important” priority.

The more recent Barna poll was based on 1,002 interviews conducted between Jan. 19-27, 2017, with a margin or error of +/-3.1 percentage points.

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