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Moving pictures

Abortion | Young mothers describe how ultrasound technology persuaded them to choose life for their children

Issue: "The fewer and the proud," April 23, 2005

It's no wonder private and nonprofit funding programs such as Focus on the Family's "Option Ultrasound" push to equip crisis pregnancy centers with sonogram technology: Eight in 10 centers report that "abortion-minded" women decide to keep their babies after seeing ultrasound images. WORLD interviewed three ultrasound converts to learn what they had in common, how they were different from each other-and why moving pictures changed their minds.

A hurricane and a heartbeat

Raised in a Bible-teaching church, Andrea Brown knew right from wrong. But a personal struggle triggered a spiritual one: "I was doubting God, questioning my faith," said the 25-year-old Cheverly, Md., medical assistant. "I was still putting on this façade at church that I was still serious about God. But I was living a double life."

That life included party-girl nights and a sexual relationship that Andrea knew was going nowhere. Then in September 2003, something weird happened: Eating carrots started making her really sick. Someone joked that she should take a pregnancy test. Though Andrea scoffed at the very idea, she secretly bought a home test and took it in a Taco Bell restroom. "I didn't want to go do it at home," where she lives with her mother and her father, a teaching elder at Jericho City of Praise in Landover, Md.

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The test showed Andrea was pregnant; two more tests yielded the same result. "I was in shock," Andrea said. "I thought, I can't have this child. My parents will be disappointed. People at church will think I'm a hypocrite."

Andrea called around looking for clinics that performed sedated or "twilight" abortions. "I had had girlfriends who told me how an abortion felt and I knew I couldn't be awake through knowing they were taking the baby out of my body."

Andrea scheduled one appointment for Sept. 19 at a clinic in Clinton, Md. But she continued paging through the phone book, randomly dialing numbers through eyes bleary with tears. One call connected her with the Bowie Crofton Pregnancy Clinic.

"Do you do abortions?" Andrea asked.

No, the voice on the phone replied, but a counselor could talk to her about alternatives. That piqued Andrea's curiosity. She also liked Bowie's offer of a free sonogram.

Other clinics "were short with me, not polite or nice at all," she said. "A few places I called were emotionless about the fact that I was whimpering and crying on the phone. Their attitude was 'Do you want to make an appointment or not?' . . . I was reaching out and asking for help and [the Bowie Crofton people] were the only ones offering it."

Two days after calling the pregnancy center, Andrea showed up for her appointment and spoke with counselor Sharon Greenip. When Sharon asked Andrea why she was considering abortion, Andrea confided what she saw as her failure in her relationship with God. The two talked and prayed together, and scheduled a sonogram for a few days later.

Though Andrea told Sharon that day she had changed her mind about the abortion, the truth was she was still flip-flopping. And she didn't cancel the Sept. 19 abortion appointment. "I was so distraught and so humiliated," Andrea said. She prayed, knowing the abortion was wrong, but asking God to let her know He cared about her struggle.

Then, on the day she was supposed to have the abortion, Hurricane Isabel savaged the East Coast, knocking out power-including power to abortion vacuum-aspirators.

A series of further "coincidences" kept her in confusion, but Andrea remained undecided. That is, until she returned to Bowie Crofton for a sonogram and the nurse pointed out her baby's heartbeat. At that moment, she said, she knew she wasn't going through with the abortion.

"The beating heart is the very essence of life itself," she said. "The sonogram showed me that if I had had an abortion, I would've been murdering my child."

Today Elora Patricia Brown lives with her mom and proud grandparents. Andrea said her parents are disappointed that she had made unwise sexual choices but are enchanted with their new granddaughter. So far Andrea has shared her story at work, on Christian radio, CNN, and in The New York Times.

She also plans to tell Elora the story someday. "I plan to be open with her and tell the truth, that it wasn't about her. Sometimes we try to cover up one bad thing with another bad thing to make things right. But that's not how it's supposed to work."

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