Opinion: ‘One of the greatest memories of my lifetime was the first time I heard my child’s heartbeat’

ClarkCountyToday.com Editor Ken Vance shares some very personal thoughts about an extremely controversial subject

As many of you know, we have a small staff of seven here at ClarkCountyToday.com. Our offices are in the U.S. Digital building in east Vancouver, which also serves as home to an Outreach Center that provides office space for a few dozen nonprofit organizations.

In our office suite, we have the pleasure of sharing space with the U.S. Digital media team, a wonderfully talented group of three individuals who help us from time to time as we evolve from old school journalists on our journey to becoming capable and versatile in the era of new media.

Between our two, small teams, we’ve had three babies born in the last year, one just last week to our own Andi Schwartz and her husband Joe. Andi, our graphic designer and webmaster, brought her six-day old son Randy in to the office Monday to meet us. As you might imagine, it was a special event for us to get to meet Randy and share in the joy Andi and her many family members (which includes soon-to-be third grader Kainan) are feeling these days.

After our visit with Andi and her newborn son was over, and as my afternoon was winding down, I found myself on Facebook (which is job related, as our new media focus includes a strong social media effort). I stumbled upon a post from a Facebook friend that, along with Andi’s visit with her baby, prompted me to write this column to share some very personal thoughts.

This column might not please very many people. Some of you may be angered because I don’t express strong enough opinions about the issue of which I’m going to write about. There are others who will read this column and won’t appreciate anything about what I have elected to share. It is very personal for all of us. It’s a subject I’ve never written about before, not in the thousands of stories and columns I’ve penned in my 32 years as a journalist. And, to be honest, I actually never planned too.

Those of you who have been long-time readers of mine know that I’m a bit of a glutton for punishment. I’ve got big, broad shoulders. Sure, it’s more fun when you like what I write, but I can take your disdain, your disapproval, your disgust. Hopefully, many of you will remember that I rarely, if ever, tell you how to view the world. Rather, on occasion, I just share with you my view of things. You can do with the information as you wish. And, this is another one of those times.

Like Andi, and the two new fathers on the U.S. Digital media team, I have been blessed in my life with the opportunity to be a parent. I just turned 56 years old last week, and I’ve had personal struggles in the last week thinking about my own legacy. What have I accomplished in this lifetime worth remembering? I don’t think there’s any question, my greatest contribution to this big, wide world is that I was a parent. Like most of you, I planned to be a perfect parent, but failed on that goal in the first day or so but I can sleep at night knowing there’s nothing I ever put more effort into, or cared about more, than that.

One of the greatest memories of my lifetime was the first time I heard my child’s heartbeat. It absolutely blew me away. I was not prepared for it. It gave me chills, brought tears to my eyes, and put the widest smile ever seen on my face. To this day, I can’t believe I wasn’t knocked to the floor. 

So, with a deep breath, I finally get to the point of that post my Facebook friend shared Monday. It was a story from April 12, 2019 when the Governor of Ohio, Mike DeWine, signed a bill banning abortions in the presence of a fetal heartbeat. His act came after the Illinois House of Representatives passed the bill in a 56-39 vote and that state’s Senate voted 18-13 to approve the House changes to the bill. (The report was from the Dayton Daily News.) Rep. Candice Keller was quoted in the story calling the legislation “the most compassionate bill we’ve ever passed.’’

I’ve had the pro-life vs. pro-choice conversation more than a few times in my life. I don’t enjoy it. Like I said, I don’t try to tell others how to live their lives and I really have no interest in having them tell me how to live mine. So, my conversations on subjects as controversial as this one are usually rather short and not all that acrimonius because I don’t allow them to become so. But, I do know this. Each and every time I’ve ever discussed this topic, I’ve included the story of the first time I listened to my child’s heartbeat. I’ve never tried to convince anyone of when life actually begins. But, I’ve always said, you can’t convince me that it isn’t before that unborn child’s heart begins beating. 

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About The Author

Ken Vance got his start in the newspaper industry in 1987 as a reporter at The Columbian Newspaper in Vancouver. Vance graduated from Stevenson High School in Stevenson, WA, and attended Clark College in Vancouver. He worked for The Columbian from 1987-2001. He was most recently a staff member of The Reflector Newspaper in Battle Ground, where he served as editor since 2010 and reporter since 2007. Vance’s work in the newspaper industry has won him multiple awards, including a first place award from the Society of Professional Journalists for in-depth reporting.

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