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Who's afraid of the fetus?
March 07, 2005
By R. Albert Mohler Jr., President, Southern Seminary

The front page of The New York Times may well be journalism's most prized piece of real estate. That fact makes the appearance of one particular article all the more surprising and noteworthy.

In the paper's Feb. 2 edition, reporter Neela Banerjee reported on the use of ultrasound technology by crisis pregnancy centers. In an article headlined, "Christian Groups Turn to Sonogram to Turn Women from Abortions," Banerjee offered a unique glimpse into one of the most transformative developments in the struggle against abortion.

The article began by introducing Andrea Brown, who at age 24, "desperate for an abortion," came across the Bowie Crofton Pregnancy Center and Medical Clinic, a "church-financed organization that provides counseling and education about sexual abstinence" in Bowie, Md.

When she called the center, Brown was told that the facility did not perform abortions or provide abortion referrals, but that she could come in for an ultrasound that would ensure the viability of her baby. As Banerjee reported, "When she did, everything changed."

"When I had the sonogram and heard the heartbeat and for me a heartbeat symbolizes life after that there was no way I could do it," Brown recalled. Once she had seen the image of her unborn baby, abortion was no longer an option.

Andrea Brown's testimony is hardly unique. That fact explains why The New York Times decided that the emergence of ultrasound technology in the abortion debate is front-page news. As Banerjee explained, "In the battle of abortion, opponents say they have discovered a powerful new tool: sonograms. And over the last 18 months, they have started major fund-raising campaigns to outfit Christian crisis pregnancy centers with ultrasound equipment."

The ultrasound technology now employed by these crisis pregnancy centers offers unprecedented views into the womb, providing a three dimensional image of the baby as it develops. At some stages of pregnancy, the images come close to representing a real-time video image of the baby at play, at rest and in motion.

According to the Heidi Group, a Christian organization that advises crisis pregnancy centers, up to 90 percent of women visiting the clinics who see their babies through the use of ultrasound technology change their minds and no longer seek an abortion.

Make no mistake pro-abortion advocates understand what this new development represents. Susanne Martinez, vice president of public policy at the Planned Parenthood Federation of America, told The New York Times that the use of such images by pregnancy centers "is coercive."

In an amazingly candid statement, Martinez put the issue in perspective. "From the time they walk into these centers, they are inundated with information that is propaganda and that has one goal in mind. And that is to have women continue with their pregnancies."

Got it? Martinez clearly believes that something dreadful has happened when women are persuaded to continue with their pregnancies and not to seek abortions. Of course, all that makes sense when the Planned Parenthood Federation of America comes into closer view, and its real agenda is made clear.

Dr. Sandra M. Christiansen, medical director of the Carenet Pregnancy Center in Frederick, Md., countered Martinez's argument. "Women have a right to know what is going on inside their bodies," she insisted, "and we want to provide women with critical information as they face a life-altering procedure and decision. Women will be empowered to choose life."

Nevertheless, Banerjee explained that pro-abortion advocates "see the technique as a pressure tactic." The reporter quoted Nancy Keenan, president of NARAL Pro-Choice America formerly the National Abortion and Reproductive Rights Action League as saying that ultrasounds have medical legitimacy, but "shouldn't be misused to badger or coerce women by these so-called crisis pregnancy centers."

Of course, the women whose hearts are turned by the experience of seeing their unborn children are not being "coerced" by the pregnancy centers. They are being transformed by the sudden awareness that a living human being resides within their wombs.

As for Andrea Brown who appeared with her smiling baby in a moving photograph published in the paper's print edition she intends to practice sexual abstinence until she gets married. Smiling at her daughter, she added, "I have a constant reminder of what can happen if I don't."

The panic setting in among the abortion rights crowd is understandable. Once women see the baby living in their womb, abortion is revealed for what it is the murder of a living human being. Needless to say, this gets in the way of the abortion rights agenda and cuts into the profits of the abortion industry. Once the image of the baby is on the screen, the writing is on the wall for the abortionists.

The pro-abortion movement fears the impact of ultrasound technology the way Howard Hughes feared germs.

The website of the Feminist Women's Health Center, a group that operates abortion clinics in several states, warns women that they should stay away from crisis pregnancy centers altogether. "Some of these centers offer ultrasound [also known as sonograms]. But that does not mean the personnel operating the equipment are medically trained." In truth, most states require a licensed physician to be present as the test is administered, but what the abortion advocates really fear is that the ultrasound technicians will be medically trained.

When all else fails, the Feminist Women's Health Center shifts to scare tactics. "If you discover you are seeking help from an anti-abortion facility, protect yourself from further harassment. Leave the premises immediately and do not return."

There you have it. The abortion rights movement finally has met its match. The abortion industry is scared to death of the fetus, knowing that the mere image of a living baby in the womb is the refutation of every argument they can assert and all the coercion they would employ.

Now, the question comes down to this: Who's afraid of the fetus?

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