January 18, 2020 | Aaron Mercer, Contributing Writer
Times Square in Midtown Manhattan is not normally a place conducive to quiet reflection. However, last May, for just a moment, all that was different. A palpable stillness overcame a crowd of thousands as they watched the precious movements of a prenatal child projected live from a 4D ultrasound. And then the climax – the baby’s heartbeat! Such a simple sound, yet so powerful as its pulse was amplified throughout the square. How can one not stop and be drawn in by the beautiful and intrinsic sanctity of human life in that moment?
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Breaking through the noise of New York City’s busy and distracted streets is no small task, but, by the grace of God, Focus on the Family accomplished this feat during its “Alive from New York” rally using the power of cutting-edge technology. One of the event’s key speakers, Jeanne Mancini, who is president of March for Life (and recently was featured on IFA’s First Friday Prayer Call), lauded such scientific advances that continue to bolster the truth and urgency of the pro-life cause.
“Science and technology are on the side of life,” Mancini later told FOX News. “It’s always been my belief that showing life as it is in its inherent beauty is so attractive, and that’s what really changes people’s hearts and minds.”
Indeed, far from being value-neutral, technological developments are proving more and more what is at stake in our nation’s decades-long abortion and bioethics wars. Fundamentally, an age-old question must be asked. What makes someone a person with intrinsic Imago Dei dignity rather than simply a thing that can be owned, utilized, or discarded? We know in our hearts from our reading of the Scriptures that we are “fearfully and wonderfully made” in utero by our Creator and that we are so beloved by Him that He would sacrifice His very self for each one of us. However, science continues to give our heads more and more information about just how special we are.
In 1953, Cambridge University scientists James Watson and Francis Crick discovered the double-helix structure of DNA. Now geneticists know that four basic chemical bases in billions of pairs make up that roadmap for our physical bodies, and, while we are all 99.9 percent the same in our genes, a 0.1 percent variation makes us all individually unique. There is no one else like you. And you have had your unique genome since conception.
Lest thinking of DNA is too remote an idea, let’s consider the fact that we all have such individualized fingerprints that their unique qualities are relied on by forensics experts and, yes, for opening smartphones. Guess what? Our fingerprints are fully formed in the 2nd trimester of pregnancy.
Another tool that is quickly growing in accuracy and exploding in use is facial recognition technology. As recent congressional hearings have suggested, that technology has many ethical questions to resolve. Still, it again buttresses the belief that we are all distinguished from one another and special.
Beyond undergirding how “fearfully and wonderfully” we are created, technology is also showing more and more just how active and full of independent life we are before we are born. Advances in ultrasound technology are amazing, as many new parents and certainly all those rallying in New York City last May can attest. In addition, progress in fetal surgery and neonatal care is making leaps. Even a baby born at 21 weeks and less than a pound in weight has shown that with the help of modern medicine she could successfully fight to live on her own.
Before last year’s March for Life, Jeanne Mancini published a USA Today op-ed declaring, “[W]hat we have learned from scientific discoveries and advancements in the past 46 years is that abortion is not merely a decision between a woman and her doctor. There is another, who is most impacted by such a decision.” Those others are “unique, unrepeatable human persons deserving of our protection.”
Indeed, as we prepare for this year’s annual March for Life, let us remember those others—those persons “fearfully and wonderfully made” and their parents. Let’s harness the power of today’s technology to investigate truth and prove to reasonable minds the solid intellectual footing of the pro-life cause, and let’s pray that hearts would be lifted out of the fog of fear. Truly, that is when the battle for a culture of life will be won.
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As he recapped the “Alive from New York” technological marvel on his daily broadcast, Focus on the Family president Jim Daly said, “We’re right at the precipice where I think we can win in the culture. That’s why I felt like doing this now was critical…. I think it was the Lord saying, ‘Go, because now is the time.’”
Amen. May truth shine and love prevail. Now is the time to win this.
Aaron Mercer is a Contributing Writer with two decades of experience in Washington, D.C.’s public policy arena and Christian associations. A seasoned strategist, he aids organizations with research, analysis, and writing services, and he reflects on faith, technology, and the public square. Connect with Aaron on LinkedIn and Twitter.
(Image credit: Tetra Images/Getty Images.)