“The glimmer of life portrayed in sonogram images is a taste of the transcendent”

By Dave Andrusko

“Seeing is believing” is one of those great aphorisms that can be taken in many directions. Probably the predominate explanation is simply that it implies skepticism until we can see something.

Put another way, it is that seeing can confirm what we intuitively already know is true. Or in one of Pascal’s famous “Thoughts” (Pensées), “The heart has its reasons which reason knows nothing of… We know the truth not only by the reason, but by the heart.”

Did we really need 4-D color ultrasounds to know that a woman is carrying a baby, not “cells” or “tissues” or “a product of conception”? No, of course not. Our heart knowledge already knows one of us is growing inside.

But it is equally true that these marvelous technological improvements make bonding earlier in pregnancy easier for women and, certainly, for men.

I thought of that today when I read a delightful post in a small Pennsylvania newspaper written by James E. Miller.  The headline is “Young people might put end to legal abortion,” riffing off of a post by Michael Barone who pointed out that while younger people are more “liberal” on other issues than their elders, “if anything” they are “a bit more conservative on abortion.”


Barone offers

“[P]erhaps this is because they have been exposed to sonograms of their own unborn children or those of friends and family members.”

What makes Miller’s post so delightful is how he immediately personalizes what a friend of his said. That friend “argued that as sonograms become more vivid, and as minute details like a developing skull and appendages are magnified, it becomes harder to view the small mass of active cells as anything but a real human being.”

I can speak to this from personal experience. My wife is due to give birth to our first child (a girl!) in October. The first time I saw my daughter, she was a little clump of gray matter with few visible contours. But there was also a pulsing light — her heartbeat. I could hear and see the source of her life, a small miracle hidden within layers of skin and blood. In just one sonogram, all the possibilities of her future life were set.

Seeing truly is believing. And the feeling of seeing a vulnerable speck of life is hard to shake. The last thing you think of doing is snuffing out such a tiny wonder.

If bearing witness to the fragile beauty of nascent life is what tugs our consciences away from the brutality of abortion, then we’re all the better for it. The more children saved, the more our society redeems itself after decades of sanctioned slaughter.

Miller then proceeds to discuss the counter-trends, what propels is in an anti-life direction. He makes a strong argument but returns to the miracle of revealed unborn life in his conclusion:

The glimmer of life portrayed in sonogram images is a taste of the transcendent. The human heart can’t help but identify with a miniature depiction of itself.

The more who witness such a blessing, the more who will be convinced to let life run its wondrous course.