I looked over at my wife, who was reclined on the nurse’s table but still close enough to hold my hand. Her eyes were filled with tears, the tears of the sweetest kind of joy and relief and thankfulness. The nurse had a club-looking instrument on my wife’s belly, and right in front of me, on a screen not much bigger than a current iPad, a bean-shaped figure appeared in a hazy monochrome.
“There’s your baby,” the nurse announced sweetly. “It’s got a beautiful heartbeat.”
For Emily and I, nothing the nurse could say could ring happier in our ears. We walked into the hospital that afternoon, knowing she was pregnant but apprehensive about all the things that you’re supposed to be apprehensive about. Was the baby healthy? How could we tell, since we didn’t know the difference between a body’s reaction to a healthy or unhealthy infant? Would the baby have a heartbeat, or would we miscarry at about 8 weeks, the time frame that seems to be the most common for miscarriages, at least for dozens of our friends and family?
But no. The slightly curved image, white like a tiny flash of light in a sea of cavernous black…that was our baby, and he/she (we’ll find that out later!) was doing just fine. A child, our child, resting and nourished inside my beautiful bride of 6 months. Our child, knowing nothing of marriage, tight finances, global terrorism, Donald Trump, Star Wars, or anything else—just a particle of God-breathed life, with a strong and healthy heartbeat. Our only glimpse of our child was that tiny smudge of contrasted white on the screen.
Oh, how we rejoiced! How we hugged, kissed, and said “I love you” in celebration of the life we just saw! How we wondered about names, daydreamed about adorable costumes, anticipated birthdays and Christmases and first Rams games! Not since returning from that hospital have we stopped talking about our child, and praying and hoping and dreaming for the months and years and decades ahead.
Not for a moment have we stopped treasuring that little blip of white on that computer screen. We’ve got the first printed pictures, and put one in a frame for Emily’s grandmother as a gift. You can’t see a face, you can’t hear a voice, and you can’t watch our child do anything. You can only look at that tiny, thumbprint-looking smudge. You can only look at a ultrasound image, showing nothing about our child, and yet at the same, showing everything.
I promise I will always remember looking at that ultrasound. I know I will, because I remember thinking, “I see life. My wife sees life. The nurse sees life. Anyone with eyes to see sees a life! It’s right there! Our baby! Our little baby!” I’m not a doctor, I’m not a professional biologist, and I don’t have a Ph.D. in ethics. What I know is what I saw. I saw life. They saw life.
I’ve heard a lot of good arguments against abortion. Many of them are powerful, rigorously logical and deeply humane. But that day in the nurse’s office, grasping my wife’s hand and looking at a shape only discernible by science in the past 50 years, I encountered the most overwhelming case against abortion choice in the world.
I saw life. I saw it.
Don’t say that you can’t see it. Say instead that you choose not to. Don’t say it’s not there. Say instead that you won’t look.
Seeing is the end of abortion. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.
Seeing is the end of choice.