Women, unlike men, have the privilege of sharing an intimate bond with the preborn through their bodies, and their maternal instinct exists even in the absence of physical motherhood. During pregnancy, women feel their bodies change, then they feel their children kicking and swimming around inside of them. During birth, they definitely feel the process whereby the child enters the outside world.
In most cases, men can only share in this experience of preborn Life through proximity to mothers, who welcome them to feel the baby kick, view an ultrasound, or ‘get to know’ the baby by talking to him or her in the womb. Some men, however, have had the opportunity to encounter preborn Life in-person, and in some cases, these experiences profoundly shaped their view of human Life. Here are a few examples:
On August 19, 1999, photographer Michael Clancy, an abortion advocate, was asked by USA Today to capture a fetal surgery on-camera. The surgery took place at Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Tennessee and was performed on baby Samuel Armas to correct the child’s spina bifida. Clancy had no idea his convictions about abortion would be utterly transformed on the day of the surgery, when the preborn child reached out of his mother’s womb and tightly clasped the surgeon’s finger.
Suddenly, an entire arm thrust out of the opening, then pulled back until just a little hand was showing. The doctor reached over and lifted the hand, which reacted, and squeezed the doctor’s finger. As if testing for strength, the doctor shook the tiny fist. Samuel held firm. I took the picture! Wow!
I was totally in shock for two hours after the surgery… I know abortion is wrong now – it’s absolutely wrong.
Over two decades ago, another man was changed by an in-person encounter with the reality of preborn Life when he came to the assistance of a young girl who was experiencing a late miscarriage. David Baxter, a paramedic and owner of an ambulance service in Canada, was a self-described “fence-sitter” regarding abortion. Although his wife was Pro-Life, Baxter would flip-flop on the issue, always maintaining a stronger bias in favor of abortion.
One fateful day, Baxter received a call to transport a 14-year-old girl who was experiencing severe abdominal pain. She was 17 weeks pregnant. At the hospital, the young woman miscarried. Inexplicably, Baxter recalls, the nurse who assisted the young girl brought the body of the miscarried child out to the ambulance as Baxter’s team was cleaning the vehicle after the ordeal. The nurse handed the baby, who was protected only by a plastic bag, to Baxter. The baby he saw probably looked like this little boy, Walter Joshua Fretz, who was miscarried at 19 weeks:
Last year, a New Jersey news cast reacted to a graphic abortion video showing gruesome images of children who had been victimized by the act. At the end of the discussion, one man summarized his reaction, revealing that he was permanently changed by what he saw: “Regardless of how you feel on the issue, if their goal was to get you to evoke these emotions, and these visual images for the word ‘abortion,’ I mean they did a great job. I’m never going to forget that for the rest of my life.”
Father Frank Pavone of Priests for Life has long advocated that America will not reject abortion until America sees abortion. Similarly, coming face-to-face with preborn Life in any form is a transformative experience – especially for men, who do not experience this reality in a physical way. Where abortion is concerned, seeing really is believing.