HomeoldHow ultrasounds transform the way pregnant women understand their unborn child

How ultrasounds transform the way pregnant women understand their unborn child

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One of my daughters was the president of a local branch of Women Helping Center. Given her extensive experience and the expertise of the staff, she is well-positioned to understand the crucial importance of ultrasounds. By providing a tangible representation of what an untimely pregnancy entails, ultrasounds significantly alter the decision-making process.

By allowing time for reflection, ultrasounds provide an abortion-prone woman (or girl) with the opportunity to consider her options calmly and without undue pressure. It is therefore unsurprising that pro-abortionists are opposed to women’s centres in general and ultrasounds in particular.

Let us consider ultrasounds in the context of “science,” which, according to pro-abortionists, is limited to whatever they believe furthers their cause. Consequently, when pro-abortionists encounter a potential avenue for desensitising the public to the horrors of abortion, it is regarded as “real science”.

Conversely, when pro-life advocates identify a factor that counters the callous tactics employed by the abortion industry to separate mother and unborn child, they are accused of engaging in “phony science.”

When we present irrefutable evidence, we are accused of “hijacking” it.

I was reminded of this dynamic when I re-read “The Iconic Photo Hijacked By the Anti-Abortion Movement,” by Amarens Eggerat, whose piece for VICE Netherlands was reposted for an American audience here.

Those with experience in the pro-life movement would be correct in assuming that she is referring to the book “A Child Is Born” by Swedish photographer Lennart Nilsson. This book became a global sensation after appearing in Life magazine in 1956. Nilsson captured images of the human body at various stages of development, from the fertilised egg to the fully formed baby.

It has been almost seven years since the passing of Nilsson, a photojournalist of the highest calibre. As we have stated on numerous occasions, the impact of the cover of Life magazine is incalculable.

The cover, entitled ‘Fetus, 18 weeks’, continues to receive a well-deserved second look as one of the 20th century’s great photographs, as Charlotte Jansen, writing for the British newspaper The Guardian in 2019, observed.

Jansen began her article as follows:

In April 1965, the magazine Life published a photograph on its cover called Foetus 18 Weeks, which caused a sensation. The issue was a resounding success, selling at an unprecedented rate. The image, in full colour and with high-resolution detail, depicted a foetus in its amniotic sac, with its umbilical cord winding off to the placenta. The unborn child, floating in a seemingly cosmic backdrop, appears vulnerable yet serene. The subject’s eyes are closed and its tiny, perfectly formed fists are clasped to its chest.

To return to the matter of Amarens Eggerat, how did pro-lifers manage to “hijack” the photo? I have read the article several times and am still unable to comprehend the situation.

The most plausible explanation is that it’s not so much what pro-lifers did with the Nilsson photos, but rather how the photos were one of the earliest “windows on the womb.”

It is clear that she goes on at length about

The colour photographs were one of the first representations of the miracle of life, and gave viewers the impression that they were looking directly into the womb, observing a foetus calmly floating around like a little astronaut.

However, given that Nilsson’s work involved photographing miscarried and aborted foetuses, it is perhaps understandable that decades later, the impact on countless millions of mothers and fathers as they look at a four-colour ultrasound of their unborn baby should be offset. Or at the very least, make it suspect to the likes of Amarens Eggerat.

This is nonsense.

Once more, Ms. Eggerat’s primary concern is not with us, but rather with the transformative impact of ultrasounds on the understanding of the unborn child, particularly among pregnant women. Please read this convoluted paragraph:

The public visibility of women’s private affairs became politicised. Prior to the advent of ultrasound technology, anti-abortion activists frequently relied on religious or moral arguments against the provision of safe access to abortions. However, the compelling visuals of prenatal scans provided a powerful tool to reinforce their cause, evoking a protective instinct towards what appeared to be a vulnerable unborn child.

She is recycling tired pro-abortion rhetoric about how ultrasounds somehow made women “invisible” because they “could only be interpreted by specialists.” In a distorted sense, that may have been partially true in the 1970s and 1980s, but today, no one has to tell parents of unborn babies what they see on the screen.

At a recent banquet held at our daughter’s Women Helping Center, the medical director presented a demonstration of ultrasounds from the 1970s, 2000s, and today.

The images show the baby’s head, fingers, and toes in extraordinary detail.

The effect on the audience was profound.

A collective intake of breath could be heard throughout the room.

It would be inaccurate to suggest that anyone “hijacked” the event. However, those in favour of abortion continue to express their views, despite the evidence that the majority of people are opposed to abortion.

I must take issue with Eggerat’s assertion that this is an unnatural response.


Daniel Miller is responsible for nearly all of National Right to Life News' political writing.

With the election of Donald Trump to the U.S. presidency, Daniel Miller developed a deep obsession with U.S. politics that has never let go of the political scientist. Whether it's the election of Joe Biden, the midterm elections in Congress, the abortion rights debate in the Supreme Court or the mudslinging in the primaries - Daniel Miller is happy to stay up late for you.

Daniel was born and raised in New York. After living in China, working for a news agency and another stint at a major news network, he now lives in Arizona with his two daughters.

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