It was an unusual beginning. By the time Renee* and her boyfriend Christopher arrived at the Pregnancy Resource Center she’d already been counseled at a nearby facility. Her pregnancy test at the first center had been positive, and she was quite abortion determined. A college freshman, Renee had done her research on the Internet, and she wanted a medical abortion (the abortion pill). Her reasons? She was too young to have a baby, she was still in school, and she just wasn’t ready. She also had a history of seizures, and she had financial worries. Renee said she did not believe in abortion, but an unexpected pregnancy had never happened to her before.
During her time at the previous PRC visit, they’d listened to her concerns and spoken to her about “God’s plan in all of this.” But Renee felt she would have the abortion just this one time and then never do it again. She remained firmly abortion determined. The PRC staff told her she needed to have an ultrasound before she could have any procedure. So they referred Renee to her another local Pregnancy Resource Center, which also happened to be closer to her home. Renee agreed to go, and the PRC staff prayed her all the way here.
After the couple arrived at the client’s neighboring PRC, Renee met with a counselor named Rebecca. She spoke with Renee about her intentions, emphasizing that Renee would be making a decision for two people. Renee remained firm in her stance—abortion. She did, however, allow Rebecca to pray for her before the ultrasound.
Then Rebecca introduced Renee to me, the nurse sonographer. My immediate impression of Renee was that she was a determined young woman. In the ultrasound room, I took her through our interview process, during which she told me she’d been having seizures, and they were becoming more frequent. But she hadn’t gone to the doctor because she has no health insurance. Using an iPad, we looked at information from the American Pregnancy Association about the abortion pill. One of the main reasons listed for NOT using this procedure is if someone has a history of seizures. Renee was stunned.
We went on to look at other types of abortions. I emphasized that it is unlikely she would be eligible for any of them since she has such a serious, untreated medical condition. And if an abortion clinic were willing to do the abortion in spite of her health history, then I would question their competency. This was the last thing Renee wanted to hear.
At this time Rebecca came back into the room, and we went ahead with Renee’s ultrasound. (Later on, Rebecca told me she’d been silently praying during my conversation with Renee.) First, a small black circle appeared on the screen. It’s called the gestational sac. I focused on that first, carefully measuring the dimensions. As I adjusted the ultrasound probe, a new image appeared. Inside that dark circle, a small white shape could be seen. And inside that small shape there was movement—a regular flutter. It was the heartbeat of Renee’s unborn child, and it was beating strongly. Renee silently stared at the screen.
We called Christopher into the ultrasound room. I pointed out each feature to him, and then he saw his baby’s beating heart. “Wow, oh wow,” he said softly. He nervously glanced at Renee. She said nothing, and the two of them just stared at each other. Something had changed.
After the ultrasound, we showed the couple some videos from The Endowment for Human Development, including fetal development at six weeks. They were stunned to see how developed the baby was: eyes, finger buds, and a tiny mouth were all visible. I told them I wanted them to be fully informed about what they were considering. I told them the idea that the baby is “just tissue” is a myth. And thanks to the ultrasound images, all of us could clearly see there was a tiny child in Renee’s womb. Renee started to weep. Christopher held her hand, took a deep breath, and said, “Wow . . . wow.” His eyes were also teary.
I could see how hard this was for the young couple. So I asked if I could pray for them. Clutching the ultrasound pictures, they enthusiastically agreed. Afterward, I suggested that Renee take a prenatal vitamin every day while they think through their decision. And I gave them some literature about abortion procedures and carrying a baby to term. When they left the center, I had no sense of what they would choose to do. I could only see that where before there had been determination, there was now doubt.
Early the next day, the Pregnancy Resource Center’s director sent me a text—Renee had called the center to let us know that she and Christopher were choosing life. Both pregnancy centers and every staff person who interacted with the couple had played a significant role in the rescue of this child, this mother and father, this family.
So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything,
but only God who gives the growth.
He who plants and he who waters are one,
and each will receive his wages according to his labor.
For we are God’s fellow workers.
—1 Corinthians 3:7-9 (ESV)
* The couple’s names have been changed to protect their privacy.