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Tuesday, January 31, 2017

The Truth and Lies of the Ultrasound Debate

In the week between the anniversary of Roe v. Wade and the annual March for Life, some evangelicals called outThe Atlantic's coverage of ultrasound technology, which characterized the fetal heartbeat as imaginary and suggested that what we see in early sonograms is essentially meaningless.
The article ended up with a string of corrections, but its point remains: "Politicians have used visual technology to redefine what counts as 'life.'"
The debate over ultrasounds seems all too familiar in a world of "alternative facts" and "fake news," where people can draw seemingly opposing conclusions from the same set of evidence. (The most recent episode of the CT podcast Quick to Listen was all about this.)
While some like The Atlantic writer suggest that ultrasounds are a manipulative tool, pregnancy centers have seen them as offering crucial evidence—showing parents-to-be the baby growing inside them and the scientific measures of its existence.
Ahead of last week's March for Life, I wrote about a network of pregnancy centers that received a donation of ultrasound machines and training worth $120,000. A few years ago, it even changed its name from Pregnancy Resource Centers of Greater Portland to First Image—a reference to the powerful early signs of life seen on a sonogram and how all life reflects the image of God the Creator.
Like the debate over undercover Planned Parenthood videos, police dashcam footage, and, most recently, aerial shots of Washington crowds, sonograms are another example of how seemingly objective evidence can be used in subjective ways.
The case of abortion doctor Kermit Gosnell, recounted in a recent documentary and book about his crimes, proved an exception to the ideological divide. "The allegations against Gosnell could not be dismissed as unreliable hype from the biased anti-abortion crowd," wrote Kelly Rosati, a spokesperson for Focus on the Family. "No reasonable person—pro-life or pro-choice—could read the grand jury report and not feel ill and outraged."
This week we also featured an in-depth interview with Abby Johnson, the former Planned Parenthood staffer who now helps abortion clinic workers find jobs and healing once they leave the industry. Johnson serves as an example of the power of perspective in her ability to understand and empathize with both sides of such a contentious issue.
I'll end with a quote from her: "We've accused the abortion industry of dehumanizing the unborn, but, in fact, we have dehumanized the people that work in the abortion industry," she said. "Our focus as an organization is bringing the humanity back not only to the unborn child but to these workers who have been caught in that system."
Thanks for reading,
Kate Shellnutt
Kate Shellnutt
Editor, CT Women

P.S. - Remember that sleep essay I mentioned a few weeks ago? It went up this week. I'm already going to bed a little earlier. Some nights.

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