The Ultrasound’s Role in the Decline in Abortions

As the U.S. Supreme Court begins its new term this week, pro-life advocates hold a prayer vigil on the plaza of the high court in Washington, Oct. 4, 2014. Abortions have declined in states where new laws make it harder to have them – but they’ve also waned in states where abortion rights are protected, an Associated Press survey finds. (J. Scott Applewhite, The Associated Press) The young woman drew a sharp breath and her eyes grew wide. The boyfriend, no longer silent and detached, murmured, “Oh, wow,” at the tiny heartbeat blinking rhythmically on the black and white monitor. In the dim glow of the ultrasound machine, I saw uncertainty give way to wonder. When we met up again, the young woman told me she was having a girl. There were still many challenges ahead, but wonder had blossomed into joy. That grainy yet luminous silhouette had softened the hearts of two scared college students and enabled them to choose life for the child they had conceived together. The ultrasound image, posted to Facebook, hung on refrigerator doors and taped to scrapbooks, has changed hearts and minds. Obstetrician Ian Donald, one of the pioneers of the clinical ultrasound back in the 1950s, understood the implications of his invention: The ultrasound humanizes the hidden form of the unborn child. Donald rejoiced in how the images forged an emotional connection between a mother and the child within her. Now ubiquitous, this technology has no doubt contributed to the societal shift underway regarding abortion in the United States. While the number and rate of abortions have been falling for more than...