Ultrasound key in saving unborn lives
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (BP)--While a majority of Americans now consider themselves pro-life -- reversing a long-running trend in favor of abortion rights -- unborn babies are no less at risk.
In a May 2009 Gallup poll, 51 percent of Americans called themselves "pro-life," up from 44 percent in 2008. Yet in the same survey only 22 percent said abortion should be "illegal in all circumstances." Most who responded (53 percent) said the procedure should be "legal only under certain circumstances."
And while abortion rates have been slowly declining since 2000, an estimated 1.2 million babies were aborted in 2005, the most recent year for which data is available. This carnage equals the combined population of Denver and Seattle and represents the loss of innocent life and mothers who will, apart from God's grace, long suffer with the pain and grief of their decision to abort.
This national tragedy was the impetus behind the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission's decision several years ago to launch the Psalm 139 Project -- a cooperative initiative to educate Southern Baptists on the value of ultrasound technology in crisis pregnancy situations. The project, located on the Web at psalm139project.org, also provides a way for individuals to contribute to a fund that places the machines in qualified centers.
The Bible's Psalm 139 was the inspiration for the project. The Old Testament verses affirm the fact that we are uniquely created by God Himself, in fact, "knit" together in our mother's womb.
Because of the sacrificial gifts of Southern Baptists to the Psalm 139 Project, sonogram equipment has been placed in pregnancy care centers in San Marcos, Texas; New Albany, Ind.; San Bernardino, Calif.; Corinth, Miss.; and Denver, Colo. Funds are now being collected to underwrite the purchase of a portable ultrasound machine that will be used in Florida during natural disasters or other widespread crisis.
It is not uncommon for "women's health" groups, notably Planned Parenthood, to rush into an area after a disaster strikes to provide abortions, contraceptives and morning-after pills to women in the area who are identified as having a "crisis pregnancy."
"During the 9/11 disaster, Planned Parenthood went right in to offer those women abortions," said May Lou Hendry, sanctity of human life director with the Florida Baptist Children's Home. "With this piece of medical equipment we can be right in those sites to provide ultrasounds for a woman in crisis."
The machine will be used elsewhere in the state when there is not a disaster, she said.
Hendry said a sonogram will help a woman "understand it is a baby that dwells within her." She noted the state convention also is committed to bringing the "message of adoption to these women."
A common theme of the centers with ultrasound machines: abortion-minded women changing their mind and giving their unborn babies life.
The executive director of a pregnancy resource center in South Florida tells the story of a young lady, "Mary," who came to the center seeking an abortion due to her family's economic situation (names are changed). Her husband had lost his job, leaving her as their breadwinner. The couple already had one child, and she was 12 weeks pregnant.
"How can I have this baby? I can hardly make ends meet," Mary asked the center's counselor.
While neither Mary nor her husband really wanted to abort their child, the center director said they both were desperate and willing to take drastic measures.
The counselor asked Mary's husband to come into the exam room to be with her as the clinic staff did an ultrasound.
"To our surprise Mary was carrying identical twins," recalled the director. "Only God knows the reason why these things happen, but we know He does not make mistakes." She said Mary's husband fell to his knees, "crying out to God for forgiveness." It turned out that the husband and wife were members of a local church.
While acknowledging the family may well struggle for a time in their economic condition, the center director said, "These twins will not be another abortion statistic; instead, they will fulfill God's perfect plan and purpose."
Accounts like this one are what drive the ERLC to push forward in making the Psalm 139 Project known to more Southern Baptists, confident that once they appreciate the value of having an ultrasound image available for every unborn child's mother -- and father -- to view, the greater the likelihood that that child will survive.
Upwards of 80 percent of women in a crisis pregnancy who are given a glimpse of the life within them choose life, but this is only possible when women can go to a pregnancy resource center with an ultrasound machine.
"Plain and simple: ultrasound machines save babies' lives," said Richard Land, president of the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission. He noted the ERLC's newest "Issue at a Glance" Web page, erlc.com/life, focuses on the sanctity of human life issue, including a downloadable bulletin insert, sermons, and more information on the ultrasound technology.
"Sonogram machines are very expensive, and most pregnancy centers lack the funds needed to buy the equipment or have the trained medical personnel on staff," Land said. He added that the Psalm 139 Project allows individual Southern Baptists to "heed the biblical admonition to rescue those who are perishing by partnering together to place the machines in places where unborn babies are at risk."
The Psalm 139 Project is conducted in cooperation with the SBC's North American Mission Board.
Dwayne Hastings is a writer for the Southern Baptist Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission. For more information, visit psalm139project.org or erlc.com/life.