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Bringing Good Things to Life (ULTRASOUND)
Citizen magazine ^ | June 2003 | Karla Dial

Posted on 06/01/2003 2:11:05 PM PDT by Remedy

New ultrasound technology 20 years in the making could help create a new generation of pro-lifers.

Jim and Ashley Picard are gazing into their daughter’s face for the first time. The round nose she got from him. The pointy chin she inherited from her.

Jim is slack-jawed in wonder, and Ashley can’t keep the grin from spreading across her face as they watch their daughter emit a huge yawn, then stick her thumb in her mouth while brushing the umbilical cord away from her face with one hand.

The umbilical cord is a bothersome nuisance, and will continue to be for the next 12 weeks or so — because the Picards aren’t watching their baby in the post-delivery room at the hospital.

They’re watching her inside the womb.

The four-dimension (4D) ultrasound machine that makes this possible has been available for the last year — and it has doctors and pro-life activists alike convinced a change may be in the wind for the abortion debate in this country. Instead of a grainy, black-and-white, two-dimensional ultrasound image, or even just a lifelike, flesh-toned, three-dimensional picture, the 4D offers patients the opportunity to see their babies moving, with incredible surface detail that delineates facial and body features.

Robert Wolfson, M.D., Ph.D., the Colorado Springs, Colo., perinatologist in whose darkened ultrasound room the Picards are sitting, has a background in electrical engineering — and he’s been reading about 4D technology in medical literature since the first equations that would produce it began appearing in the early 1980s. Though Wolfson specializes in detecting fetal abnormalities, which his General Electric machines can find at earlier stages than ever before, he believes the 4D’s greatest impact is actually relational.

"It creates a commitment to the pregnancy and the individual on board from both parents," Wolfson told Citizen. "The mother can feel the baby, but the father needs a photograph to form a relationship with that child. Imagine putting that picture on your desk and looking at it every day.

"It’s all about the fact that you can fall in love with your child before birth. People know intuitively that there is power in that."

Sometimes, that power gives couples their closest connection to a baby whose laugh they will never hear.

"I had one couple who’d had two miscarriages," Wolfson said. "The only experience they’d had with their children was when they were dead. They told me that this technology at least gave them the opportunity to see their child alive."

Making Life a Reality

Four-dimensional ultrasound may have been invented for medical purposes, but some of the most dramatic results it yields are at pregnancy resource centers — the front lines of the abortion battle.

Choices Medical Clinic, a pregnancy resource center, is located next to abortionist George Tiller’s clinic in Wichita, Kan. Since purchasing a 4D ultrasound machine last October, Executive Director Tim Weisner said it’s helped some of the most adamant women change their minds about abortion.

"To look at a silhouette on a machine is one thing, but to actually see the baby is another," he said. "We’ve had a handful like that where the technology has really turned the tide. It makes it real to them."

Advertising free ultrasounds draws a lot of patients from the abortion clinic across the street from A Woman’s Choice Resource Center in Louisville, Ky., as well. The center’s 70 percent success rate in saving babies has gone up, though they don’t know exactly how much, since buying a 4D ultrasound late last year.

"The abortion clinic tells [women] the baby is like cancer in your body," explained ultrasound technician Holly Colwick. "If you’ve never been pregnant before or seen an ultrasound, maybe those kinds of lies are easy to believe. But when they see arms, legs, a head — they’re amazed."

"This is a ‘Wow’ kind of machine," agreed Medical Director Dr. Bill Cutrer. "The kinds of images we can get on the real early pregnancies at seven weeks, eight weeks, nine or 10, are just breathtaking. There’s no one that leaves with any doubt this is a baby."

About 350 of the nation’s 2,500 crisis pregnancy ministries have some kind of ultrasound machine that helps them convince women the baby inside them is more than just an amorphous blob of tissue. But only a handful of those have 4D machines, which cost anywhere from $100,000 to nearly $200,000 apiece purchased brand new from GE or Philips. Both companies’ models require special training for technicians, and at the touch of a button, change from 2D to 3D to the moving 4D image. But once the technician gets the hang of it, Cutrer said, "it’s like driving a Ferrari."

Most donation-driven pregnancy resource centers can’t afford a 4D, much less a Ferrari. In Wichita, Weisner said the board of directors broke a longstanding commitment never to take on debt in order to buy their machine, and in Louisville, a megachurch matched donations to help A Woman’s Choice buy theirs.

But more nonprofit pregnancy centers may be able to buy ultrasound equipment if Congress passes a bill sponsored by U.S. Rep. Cliff Stearns, R-Fla. The bill, introduced Feb. 5, earmarks $3 million for grants to help health clinics buy any type of ultrasound machine they like; the legislation calls for the government to pay $20,000 or half the cost of the machine, whichever is less, for nonprofit pregnancy centers that provide ultrasounds for free. Abortion clinics charge ultrasound fees despite receiving federal subsidies.

As of late February, the legislation, H.R. 195, was being considered by the Energy and Commerce Committee’s Health Subcommittee, and had 36 cosponsors. But the pro-abortion lobby, which helped defeat a similar bill last year, was up in arms.

"They don’t want them to go to Planned Parenthood, where they’ll get their full range of options," Alison Herwitt, NARAL Pro-Choice America’s director of government relations, told Newhouse News Service of the bill’s sponsors. "They just want them to go to crisis pregnancy centers, where women will be exposed to this weapon at taxpayers’ expense."

But pro-life activists argue that allowing women to see their ultrasounds — which abortion clinics typically do not — is the only way they truly can understand their full range of options. National Institute of Family and Life Advocates President Tom Glessner estimated that if a thousand crisis pregnancy centers were able to provide ultrasounds, the abortion rate could be cut by more than half within a decade.

Unlimited Possibilities

The 4D in particular fascinates Harriet Hamilton, an obstetrical nurse with 42 years’ experience who works at Dr. Wolfson’s office in Colorado Springs. She believes the children she is scanning now for keepsake images that will be burned onto compact discs are likely to be the next generation of pro-life activists.

"This is such a new modality. The impact is still waiting to be revealed," Hamilton told Citizen. "Those black-and-white [2D] prints, over time, will fade. But these images, because of the way we print them, will last forever, and the moving images on the CD will last forever.

"These kids will be able to watch themselves in the womb! It could have a huge impact on abortions. Even at five or six weeks, a week or two after the first missed period, we can see a beating heart. I think it will make a difference."

It’s already making a difference on Ashley Picard — who, at 28 weeks, was fully expecting to see a boy on the screen based on the two-dimensional ultrasound she received at her hospital several weeks earlier.

"This brings it into the physical world," she said. "You know there’s a baby, but then when you actually see it, it grounds you. There she is. . . . it’s not so abstract now.

"You’re not just shopping for the idea or the stomach or the weight gain. You’re shopping for her." As Ashley looks up at the image of her daughter on the screen mounted on the wall opposite her table, Jim pokes a finger softly at her stomach. He leans close, whispering unintelligible words of welcome to his unborn daughter, and kisses his wife’s belly.

The baby on the screen presses her face against the side of the uterine wall.

It looks as though she is kissing back.

From Fear to Faith

An ardently pro-life mother of two, Melody Oliver never dreamed of seeking an abortion. But after being sexually assaulted during a date last spring, she found herself at a Louisville, Ky., abortion clinic.

The fear and horror of being raped might have driven Oliver through the doors, but the fear and horror of the conditions inside drove her right back out.

"I thought the one reason the government made abortion legal was so women could be in a clean environment with medical doctors," said Oliver, a licensed practical nurse who has seen abortion-mutilated women in the Bowling Green emergency room where she works. "But there was an inch of dust on everything. The health department would have shut down my hospital in five minutes for any one of the violations I saw in that place."

Not only that, but Oliver suspected the clinic was bilking patients for money. Rather than measuring several of the fetuses’ body parts to determine gestational age, the clinic workers measured only their heads — the largest part of the body.

"I had just been at my OB’s office and I knew I was 12 to 14 weeks pregnant, but their estimate was 18 weeks," Oliver said. "That wouldn’t seem to matter — except that the price of the abortion depends on the age of the fetus."

Oliver got dressed, paid the $300 the clinic charged for ultrasounds, and on her way out asked the receptionist if he thought all women were stupid.

Once outside, she met staffers from A Woman’s Choice Resource Center, who asked her if she would accompany them across the street for a free, complete ultrasound on their new machine. Oliver did—and realized that even her pro-life beliefs and medical training hadn’t prepared her for the sight of her daughter’s face as presented in 4D.

"She was blinking. She was just hanging out, looking around, sucking on her thumb," Oliver told Citizen. "It was so realistic, so lifelike. It looks like you can just reach right in there and pick up the baby.

"I know they have a heartbeat at 4 to 6 weeks, but it still doesn’t feel as real to you until you see a human. It amazed me."

After that, Oliver knew she couldn’t have an abortion, but she was still ambivalent about what to do once the baby was born Feb. 15. For a while, she considered giving her up for adoption. But a few days later, while Oliver and her baby were still in the hospital, a nurse asked if she wanted to see her — and Oliver realized, to her surprise, that she did.

"Do you want to name her?" the nurse asked.

Oliver glanced down at the magazine she’d been skimming. A headline caught her eye: "FAITH." "Well, why don’t we just call her Faith for now?" Oliver said.

The nurse laughed, then replied:

"We’ve all been calling her Faith for the last two days."

As Citizen went to press, Oliver was in the midst of her assailant’s prosecution, and seeing a trauma counselor. But she was still amazed by the reality of Faith.

"I never thought I could love or bond with a child [who] was conceived under such horrible circumstances, but that’s where we don’t give God enough credit," Oliver said. "I look at her, and I don’t even see him. She’s beautiful and perfect."

— Karla Dial

Frequently Asked Questions

"4D" is shorthand for "four-dimensional" — the fourth dimension being time. . . . 4D ultrasound takes three-dimensional ultrasound images and adds the element of time to the process. The result: Live-action images of your unborn child or of any internal anatomy.

No. 3D and 4D ultrasound both utilize sound waves to look inside the body. The technology is similar to radar. A probe placed on the body emits sound waves into the body, listens for the return echo and generates an image.

Physicians have the option of selecting different tints in reviewing images. GE has found that the golden hue is aesthetically pleasing to the eye and shows excellent shadows and highlights.

GE’s model, the Voluson 730, is a full-service ultrasound system that can be used for breast imaging, interventional urology and general imaging. As with all ultrasound systems, it can be used to research the following:

For help in locating a 4D ultrasound near you, visit and click on the "Find the GE 4D Ultrasound Nearest You" link.

TOPICS: Culture/Society; Government; News/Current Events
KEYWORDS: 4d; abortion; ge; prenataldevelopment; technology; ultrasound
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HR 195 - Informed Choice Act
1 posted on 06/01/2003 2:11:05 PM PDT by Remedy
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To: Remedy
Good post. Where morality fails to move man, technology may drag him. The truth has a way of showing up where we least expect it.


2 posted on 06/01/2003 2:15:51 PM PDT by Van Jenerette (Our Republic...If We Can Keep It!)
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To: Remedy
Ever since I heard of this new technology, I've maintained that it is the Stealth Bomber that is going to zoom in under the pro-death crowd's radar and nuke them... once a woman sees what is really in her womb, it ceases to be a "tissue mass" and becomes... a baby. Her baby.
3 posted on 06/01/2003 2:39:39 PM PDT by backhoe
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To: Remedy
The story about baby Faith brought tears to my eyes. May God bless and keep Faith and her mother and support them both thorugh all the trials that may come their way in the future.

"They just want them to go to crisis pregnancy centers, where women will be exposed to this weapon at taxpayers’ expense."

that is a very telling quote from the pro-chdicesrs -- calling 4D ultrasound a weapon. That is so ridiculous as to be laughable. It really exposes their prejudices.

4 posted on 06/01/2003 2:42:47 PM PDT by afraidfortherepublic
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To: Remedy; Coleus
Great post. This must be the technology used to get the amazing pix in the new Newsweek (I think, I'm pretty sure)cover story. I noticed them earlier today, and I was wondering how they got such great, detailed shots of unborn children. I thought they enhanced them, but I bet it was this 4D stuff.

Coleus, I figured this is right up your alley!
5 posted on 06/01/2003 2:45:00 PM PDT by jocon307 (i just post without looking now!)
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To: Remedy

Of course it's a person.

6 posted on 06/01/2003 2:45:52 PM PDT by jwalsh07
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To: afraidfortherepublic
"...where women will be exposed to this weapon..."

Yes, this is really telling. It is very hard to believe that they are not all going to burn in hell. I think I could be an atheist and still think they'd burn in hell. Maybe it will be just them, hitler, stalin, vlad the impaler, et al. The activists of the "pro-choice" movement meet the big boys....

Paging Dante, Dante Alligheri, you have a call from the Ninth Circle!
7 posted on 06/01/2003 2:48:09 PM PDT by jocon307 (i just post without looking now!)
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To: backhoe
I heard John Corbett, the actor who provided the voiceover in the GE commercial advertising this technology with an interesting anecdote. John corbett is the young man who played the radio disc jockey in Northern Exposure and the groom in My Big Fat Greek Wedding. Last week on Fox and Friends he said that while filming that segment when they played the song, "The First Time Ever I Waw Your Face" that Robert DeNiro (who was directing, or something) just broke down in tears. That says a lot.

Of course I will never hear that song again without shedding a tear because I remember the GE commercial.

8 posted on 06/01/2003 2:48:19 PM PDT by afraidfortherepublic
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To: Remedy

Just now, my two-year old daughter took one glance at this image and excitedly exclaimed, "A baby! A cute baby!"

9 posted on 06/01/2003 2:50:11 PM PDT by Luke Skyfreeper
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To: afraidfortherepublic
That says a lot...

Indeed, it says everything that needs to be said. I don't have a handy link, but I have seen prior posts about this technology being offered in kiosks in malls, and how rabidly the pro-abort clan opposes it- that, too, tells you all you need to know. They sense it will be a death-blow... and it will.

10 posted on 06/01/2003 2:53:53 PM PDT by backhoe
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To: backhoe

I've maintained that it is the Stealth Bomber on the general population.

The pro-aborts and most of the judges @ the U.S. Supreme Court are as dedicated to extermination as Nazi Germany was.

Silent Scream made an impact on those few who saw it.

Fetal Psychology wasn't even a blip.

11 posted on 06/01/2003 2:56:02 PM PDT by Remedy
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To: Remedy

Samuel Amas in the womb after undergoing surgery to correct spina bifada.

Sam Amas today, at 3 1/2 years old, in front of his home.

12 posted on 06/01/2003 2:57:27 PM PDT by afraidfortherepublic
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To: Luke Skyfreeper

Just now, my two-year old daughter took one glance at this image and excitedly exclaimed, "A baby! A cute baby!"

Bush should nominate her to the Supreme Court. She already has more common sense than most of those judges will ever have.

13 posted on 06/01/2003 2:58:36 PM PDT by Remedy
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To: jwalsh07
14 posted on 06/01/2003 3:26:24 PM PDT by pops88
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To: Remedy
But only a handful of those have 4D machines, which cost anywhere from $100,000 to nearly $200,000 apiece purchased brand new from GE or Philips. (snip)
Most donation-driven pregnancy resource centers can’t afford a 4D..

Can they rent them? Hospitals do. They rent because the technology is changing so fast that the machines become obsolete in a couple years.

15 posted on 06/01/2003 3:36:00 PM PDT by knuthom
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To: Remedy
I can use those links & will- thanks!
16 posted on 06/01/2003 3:37:33 PM PDT by backhoe (Abortion stills a beating heart...)
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To: tiamat
17 posted on 06/01/2003 3:45:39 PM PDT by Under the Radar
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To: Remedy
It was SURPRISINGLY hard to find a page that had lots of these pictures. (More of the pro-abortion agenda controlling the media? Even GE's home site doesn't have many.)
18 posted on 06/01/2003 3:51:58 PM PDT by ChemistCat (3 Nephi 17:7-8)
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To: jocon307
Yes it is..thanks!! :^)
19 posted on 06/01/2003 10:03:08 PM PDT by Coleus (God is Pro Life and Straight
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To: Under the Radar
Thanks! Cool tech!


20 posted on 06/02/2003 5:35:28 AM PDT by tiamat ("Just a Bronze-Age Gal, Trapped in a Techno World!")
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