Ultrasounds and the continuity of life

By Dave Andrusko

Steven H. Aden is senior counsel with the Alliance Defending Freedom and a contributor to townhall.com. I read him faithfully, because he helps me see the uncommon, even the transcendent, in the commonplace events of our lives.

Last week Aden wrote a piece titled, “Every Picture Tells a Story (Especially Pictures of Preborn Children)” which you can read here

The setting for his essay is that  time many of us remember–“sitting around the den during the holidays and watching home videos from when the children were young, dad was thin, and mom was trying to hold it all together amid the craziness.” The lesson Aden is teaching us is by way of an illuminating comparison.

He asks, “How nonsensical would it be for someone to step into the room while these home movies were playing and try to convince family members that what they were seeing wasn’t real? In other words, that Sally wasn’t Sally or Tommy wasn’t Tommy or that Grandpa never was?” If someone to make such a bizarre argument, “we would simply point the naysayer to the video for proof of life and laugh him or her out of the room.”

Likewise, Aden writes, “What if we could sit and watch videos of our unborn children: videos of them at age 24 weeks or 30 weeks or 36 weeks? Videos of them sucking their thumbs (in real time) or yawning (in real time) or stretching or doing any number of other things (in real time)?”

What an impact that would have on a woman contemplating an abortion. Just like the family watching a holiday video, when she watches an ultrasound of her baby, she is not watching a bunch of cells but “life itself.”

I have tried unsuccessfully for 20 plus years to find a video I once saw at a pro-life convention. The idea may seem obvious now, but it opened my eyes. What it did was to work backwards. It began with a picture of a very senior citizen, then a photo of that same individual in middle age, young adulthood, teenage years, toddlerhood, newborn, and—you guessed it—as an unborn child.

Obvious? To us, yes, of course. That woman in her 80s began her journey in the womb, like all of us did. I always think of that video when we hear that the unborn, say, at nine weeks development doesn’t “look” like a human being. But each of us “looked” like that preborn child when we were at a comparable age of fetal development.

That’s who we were then, just as we will look like an older person—who looks nothing like a toddler, by the way—if we are fortunate enough to live to a ripe old age.

In Aden’s penultimate paragraphs, he captures the continuity of life beautifully: “Whether you’re 82, 54, or 27 years old, whether you’re a toddler or only 24 weeks old, the videos show your life. Sure, latching on to videos of our children at age 24 weeks is bad for abortion sellers, but it’s great for families.”

If you like, join those who are following me on Twitter at twitter.com/daveha. Please send your comments to daveandrusko@gmail.com.