When a Picture Means Life or Death

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The public’s perception of the unborn is changing due to advances in technology and may shift the balance of legal rights from the mother to the fetus, according to a recent article published in the Medical Student Journal of the American Medical Association (MSJAMA).

Pregnant women have been having sonograms for years. A mother can watch her baby suck its thumb, hiccup, open and close its mouth and stretch out inside her womb. But advanced imaging technology now makes it possible for mothers to see their babies’ development as never before. Physicians have also been influenced and are now more apt to ”look to the fetal organism and regard it as a distinct patient in its own right,” according to MSJAMA.

But such newfound awe of the unborn isn’t confined to the medical community.

Time Magazine
November 11, 2002

It was only four months ago that Alexander Tsiaras’s amazing image of a fetus graced the cover of Time magazine. Letters poured in from readers ”totally mesmerized” by the cover story, calling the images from conception to birth ”superb,” ”fascinating” and ”outstanding.” Michelle Salvatore, a New York City labor and delivery nurse wrote, ”Maybe if more people read this article, they would think twice before having an abortion.”

Ms. Salvatore is onto something. Her observation reflects a growing pro-life strategy that for the past few years has enabled reluctant mothers – those in denial that their fetus is, indeed, a baby – to bond with their pre-born babies in the same way that eager mothers do.

Crisis pregnancy centers discovered years ago that by converting their facilities to medical clinics and offering free ultrasound testing to clients, more women left the centers making the decision to forgo an abortion and keep their baby.

Pregnancy centers that choose to ”go medical” must obtain a state medical clinic license and provide services under the supervision and direction of a licensed physician. For those centers that have converted to medical clinics, the results have been nothing short of astounding.

Once an expectant mother is able to see the life growing inside of her and hear its heartbeat, her callous resolve to abort that life begins to fade. Awed at the life growing within her, she bonds with her baby and is more likely to keep her child.

According to the National Institute of Family and Life Advocates, or NIFLA, a Dallas, Texas pregnancy resource center that began offering ultrasounds in 1998 reported a 243% increase in the number of clients that carried their babies to term.

A Columbus, Ohio pregnancy help center reported that prior to becoming a medical clinic, 80% of patients intent on having an abortion chose to terminate their pregnancy after counseling. But after offering clients a free ultrasound and physician consultation, the center reports that of those clients whose outcomes could be documented, 90% chose to carry their babies to term.

A Seattle, Washington pregnancy help center study found that of 78 abortion-minded and abortion-vulnerable clients who received an ultrasound in 1998, 70% chose not to have an abortion, compared to 50% of all Seattle pregnancies that result in abortion each year.

And in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, a pregnancy help center reported that 98% of their abortion-minded clients who receive an ultrasound examination decide to forgo an abortion.

The pro-life community has been espousing the truth for years that a fetus is more than just an extension of its mother. It is also a human being, possessing its own identity and worthy of its own human rights.

Thanks to new imaging technology, the medical community, it seems, is finally catching on.

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