I was raised in a Christian home and amid a people-loving family. Growing up, I was taught that every life was significant and sacred because it was a reflection of God. I thought I was pro-life, that is, until I saw an ultrasound.
I Thought I Had Seen It All
Before working for Focus on the Family, I was an audio-visual technician and freelance videographer. As a young grad student, desperate for cash, I took any job I could find. I shot weddings, birthdays, church sermons, local commercials, concerts, and equine competitions. My wildest job was filming the birth of my friend’s second child. With my camera peering around the doctor’s shoulder, I captured the beauty (and yucky) that comes with newborn life.
After that experience, I thought it was safe to assume that I knew a thing or two about life in the womb. However, a few years later, I would find myself crammed in a tiny room with the Focus Films crew, observing their capturing of a live ultrasound. What I saw rattled my confidence that I had previously been pro-life.
Ultrasound Filming with Focus
We were filming an ultrasound for the upcoming See Life 2020 event. New to Focus, I joined the crew in the tiny ultrasound room as an observer.
The room was tight. An intern was perched on a nearby counter with a close-up on the sonographer’s hands. The lead cameraman walked a second camera around the room. I spent most of the time shimming against the back wall, trying to stay out of the way.
The sonographer was having a hard time getting the baby to cooperate with the ultrasound. No matter how much she rotated the mother or changed the angle at which she scanned the mother’s belly, baby’s face stayed hidden. All we could see was that a tiny baby girl was contentedly folded over in a relaxed ball — napping, we assumed. Eventually, the sonographer began tapping lightly and rapidly on the mother’s belly.
The baby’s arms and legs stirred ever so slightly. The black and white waves on the ultrasound screen jiggled up and down under the sonographer’s gentle pats; someone was knocking on baby’s door. Suddenly awake, the baby rolled her head towards the sonographer’s hands, and her eyes fluttered open. I stood, shocked, as I made eye-contact with a preborn baby.
For some reason, until I had looked that baby in the eye, the realness of preborn life hadn’t fully registered with me. The experience was so eye-opening that when my boss asked what I thought of the experience, all I could say was, “Their eyes — I didn’t know you could see their eyes!”
The Tragedy of Not Seeing
This is the tragedy of today’s political climate surrounding abortion. Most of the world would rather scream with their eyes shut tight than listen with their eyes wide open.
Courthouses and city streets are filled with well-meaning people who don’t realize that the price they’re willing to pay for what they want isn’t worth what’s lost in the process. Is the effort to defend an invasive medical procedure worth the 62 million lives that it has claimed?
Yes? No? How do you know?
The Power of Ultrasound
If you’ve never seen an ultrasound, it’s hard to understand the feeling of making eye-contact with a preborn person. Oddly, what’s most startling is the revelation that you have come face-to-face with another human. It’s the feeling of life looking back at you that’s shocking.
When Someone Looks Back
My childhood home was in the backwoods of Kentucky. On any Spring night, I could stand on my back porch and peer into endless blackness. Shining a flashlight in the distance, dozens of curious and glittery eyes would be looking back. These eyes belonged to a family of deer who often slept in the high weeded field behind our house.
Having grown up seeing this sight, I found it comforting and beautiful. However, when a city-raised friend of mine came to spend the night, she was terrified.
We pulled into my driveway. Our headlights shown over the field, and, as usual, the field lit up with flickering eyes.
“What are those?” My friend exclaimed.
“Just some deer.” I said.
She turned to me, frightened. “What do they want?”
“Nothing.” I laughed. “They’re just trying to sleep.”
Peering into Darkness
Before ultrasound technology, the womb was a mysterious place. It was dark and unsearchable, like endless Kentucky fields at night. Then ultrasound, like a flashlight or headlights, illuminated that darkness. This “window into the womb” showed us the reality of what’s resting just beyond our line of sight.
Years before Roe v Wade, and sometime after, we were unsure of what the womb held. Was it a clump of cells, or was it something more? For the most part, Christians have always held onto faith concerning the preborn. We all know about Psalm 139:13-14:
“For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.”
But like how knowing that deer exist can be eclipsed by seeing their eyes, believing a person exists will never be as powerful as meeting them yourself.
When You See Truth
When I met that preborn baby, everything about being pro-life clicked into place. It suddenly made sense that memorials for preborn loss could be healing to women who had experienced abortions or miscarriages; that a woman who has lost a pregnancy could develop depression linked to the date of her miscarriage or abortion. Preborn lives are real and their presence in our world is just as significance as a post-born person.
But it’s easy to dismiss a person’s life if you’ve never met them. How do you value an individual for all they are if you’ve never been allowed to see them for who they are?