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NRL News
Page 2
Winter 2012
Volume 39
Issue 1

The Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act and a Window on the Womb

By Dave Andrusko

Ask yourself this question. Building on the indispensable work of grassroots pro-lifers, what are the ingredients that are contributing most to hastening the day when unborn children are (to quote President George W. Bush) “welcomed in life and protected in law”? Even a moment’s reflection suggests a dozen.

My nominee, and it’s just mine, is anything that cuts through the fog that hides the concreteness of a vibrant, developing member of the human family. Part of that—a very large part—is linguistic.

And we have made serious headway.

Who has the temerity to talk about a “clump of tissue” anymore? Even “choice” has a clanking sound to it, grating on the ears. Why?

In large measure because we routinely see visual evidence of the little ones who once were virtually invisible. When the phrase “window on the womb” was first coined, that window was opaque, at best. Now we see clearly.

Let me offer three examples out of hundreds. There is the utterly amazing, jaw-dropping work of Alexander Tsiaras. He has developed scanning and visualization software that enables him to develop rich, 4-D animations of different human body parts, organs, and processes.

Some of Tsiaras’s most stunning work has been with fetal development. He has catalogued his work in a 2002 book called From Conception to Birth: A Life Unfolds and then has animated this in a series of 40 videos—one for each week—on his website. A video at features a fascinating talk by Tsiaras discussing his work with the fetal images at an INK conference in Lavasa, India, in December 2010.

The fetal development video is awe-inspiring, offering a shortened version of the series Tsiaras has on his website at I assure you that you will never think about the unborn child the same way again.

A less elaborate, but no less powerful, example was illustrated by a YouTube video I wrote about at A pregnant mom posted a video of a Doppler measurement of a fetal heartbeat. She writes that she found her baby’s heartbeat at eight weeks and two days: “It just keeps getting stronger.”

And the sound of the baby’s heart is strong: tha-thump, tha-thump, tha-thump. That little one is “real” in a remarkably powerful way.

Finally, a very different example, one it would be nice to be able to adapt to our purposes. When making a point about the growth in the federal debt, cable television will often show you the “National Debt Clock.” The numbers whirl by, changing non-stop, making what was an abstraction (what the heck is a trillion dollars?) dramatically real.

Likewise, a National Abortion Clock would say there were over 3,300 per day, 137 per hour, about one dead baby every 30 seconds. My guess is that were the average American—including even many who self-identify as “pro-choice”—to understand that the scale of death is of that magnitude, they would be shocked.

One other quick but important thought. The ability to personalize, to make concrete what is routinely ignored or glossed over, is the power behind the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act.

Abortion hurts?!

Yes, it does! And every day in every way that more people realize this is true for the little ones by no later than the 20 week after fertilization, we are that much closer to the day when unborn children are “welcomed in life and protected in law.”