Ms. magazine stealth edits abortion article to remove embryology source on heartbeat

"The heart begins to pump fluid through blood vessels by day 20" — well before six-week ban in Texas law.

Updated: September 25, 2021 - 11:27pm

The feminist magazine founded by Gloria Steinem surreptitiously edited an article critical of so-called heartbeat bills that would ban abortions around six weeks into pregnancy, removing a source that contradicted its underlying claim.

"Not only is there no heart and no heartbeat, there is no fetus" at six weeks, according to the Sept. 7 article in Ms. magazine. "Any basic embryology textbook explains" the development process.

The original version linked to 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. 

"The heart and major blood vessels begin to develop ... by about day 16," says the article, last reviewed in May. "The heart begins to pump fluid through blood vessels by day 20, and the first red blood cells appear the next day. Blood vessels continue to develop in the embryo and placenta."

Secular Pro-Life, which often cites embryology textbooks to challenge pro-choice claims, noted on Twitter Tuesday afternoon that the article's embryology source contradicted its central claim. The nonprofit tagged Ms. magazine and the article's author, Smith College professor Carrie Baker, who co-chairs the magazine's Committee of Scholars.

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In a blog post dated Friday, Secular Pro-Life said the embryology source was delinked from the article after it called out the incongruity, and that Baker blocked its account on Twitter. (The post says it was written Wednesday, and the group tweeted the same day.) Google's cache of the Ms. article from Thursday evening shows the link was gone by then.

Ms. did not edit the reference to "any basic embryology textbook," but simply removed the link. The current version does not disclose the article was edited in any way since its initial publication.

"Given 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," Secular Pro-Life wrote.

Baker has not addressed the stealth edit on her Twitter feed. She last shared a tweet promoting her article Sept. 15.

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