Today, my husband James and I had a life-changing experience. For the first time, we witnessed first-hand the visual presence of our precious baby (let’s call him or her “Juth”) in my womb.
As someone who has been actively involved in the pro-life movement for several years, the experience I had today has drastically altered my perception of pre-born children (including my own child), and of the power of visual technology when talking about pregnancy and abortion.
As James and I progressed through our forty minute ultrasound appointment, the technician proceeded to tell us which parts of Juth we were looking at- his or her face, hands, feet, fibulas, ankles, spine, on and on. Not only did she identify the body parts, but she measured the shape, and position of many of Juth’s body parts in order to ensure that all of them were developing ‘normally.’
Upon leaving the appointment, two things really struck me:
#1: Juth is a unique human being.
Beyond providing a healthy uterus and good nutrition, I have done nothing to facilitate his or her growth- this is not much different than providing a safe house and good food for your born children. How many times have I explained this concept while training pro-lifers and challenging abortion-minded folk? So many times!
I always knew that I was speaking the truth because it logically and scientifically made sense. But when you actually get to see these body parts developing inside of you, it makes the truth reality. In this sense, it became even more clear to me that I don’town Juth, that Juth is not a part of me. Rather, he/she is a developing human being that has been entrusted to me. How is this any different than a parent raising a born child and ensuring that their child is safe and taken care of?
Upon seeing the ultrasound pictures of Juth, a friend asked me if I felt more connected to the baby after seeing him or her. After thinking about it, I realized that my connection to Juth was now clarified– Juth and I are two distinct persons. Seeing my child and having his or her body parts described to me helped me realize that my role, starting in the womb and onwards, is one of support. From fertilization onwards until our baby is born, James and I are the people cultivating an environment for our child to be healthy in–we are providing an environment in which he/she can grow and develop mentally, physically, emotionally and spiritually. From the moment Juth was conceived, I had little control over how he/she grew and now moves… (this was made real to me when I begged Juth to kick so that James could feel it and nothing happened.)
So do I feel connected to Juth? Absolutely, yes. But ultimately, I have come to more fully realize our child’s internal potential for greatness that has already begun that I witnessed through seeing his/her self-sufficiency in my womb. This mentality is much more freeing than how I felt-before- which is that I was the author of all things related to Juth.
#2: The power of visuals
As many people know, the work that I do with CCBR is often considered to be controversial because of our constant use of imagery, both of fetal development and abortion. We have often been accused of making women feel guilty about their abortions and have been encouraged to use slogans instead of pictures as though there is no greater merit to using the latter.
As someone who has been using CCBR’s methods for a few years, I first became convicted of their effectiveness while doing pro-life activism on campus. But, once again, the overall effectiveness of imagery was clarified for me when I saw photos of our baby up close.
I now more fully understand why ultrasound technicians are less likely to show abortion-minded women ultrasound imagery before their abortion. There is no way that a woman could in good conscience choose to kill her child after seeing his/her spine, legs, head, eyes, and mouth and after each body part is described to her in detail. There is no way she could justifiably continue to say that her child is just a blob, or a cancerous growth, or simply an extension of herself. Ultrasound imagery shatters the pro-choice perspective of pre-born children into a million pieces.
I have always known what babies in the womb look like and I am able to articulate parts of their in-utero development. But after seeing pictures close up of my own child and having his/her body parts described to me, I can say with full confidence that there are no words that could have fully done justice to what I saw. How do you describe to someone the delicacy of a pre-born child’s beautiful spine? Or the way in which he/she spins around during an ultrasound, or curls up in the corner? There are no accurate words, only pictures.
In the same way that I have more deeply come to know the intrinsic and indescribable beauty of pre-born children, I have also become more deeply horrified and disturbed by abortion, and abortion imagery. Fully understanding how beautiful pre-born children are must walk hand in hand with understanding how horrific abortion is. The reason I can appreciate the beauty of my child is because I accept and believe Juth to be a valuable human being, and it was amplified after seeing him or her. For this reason, I find abortion to be horrific. Because our culture does not affirm the humanity of pre-born children in the womb, it can justify abortion. How does one accurately describe the bloody, liquidation of a human child in the womb? There are no words, only pictures.
Have you ever seen a beautiful painting destroyed? Doesn’t it hurt to look at it, especially if you know it’s former beauty? That is what seeing ultrasound imagery is like next to abortion imagery. The latter hurts to look at because we are in awe of the former’s beauty and capabilities. We cannot convince our culture of the horrors of abortion if they do not see it and feel pain as a result. They feel pain because they know intrinsically that that humanity is beautiful (starting in the womb), and they can’t stand to see something destroy it.
By showing our culture the destruction of humanity in the womb while affirming the dignity and beauty of pre-born human beings, we clarify for them what it means to be valued, and discarded. We will continue to shatter their ideologies: We will EndtheKilling.