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Moving pictures

"Moving pictures" Continued...

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

An actual person

In February 2004, Mitchelle, then 21, delivered her fourth child. In October, the Richmond, Va., nursing assistant learned she was pregnant with her fifth.

"I had a mixed reaction," said Mitchelle, who asked WORLD not to use her last name. "I wanted to keep the baby, but I also wanted to get into school and finish my degree so I could become an R.N. And the father wasn't ready for another child."

The father, who is also dad to two of Mitchelle's other children, didn't think the couple was financially ready for another baby. So he and Mitchelle agreed that she would call some abortion clinics and check out rates. She did, but made no appointments.

"I was waiting, postponing, I think because I really didn't want to do it," Mitchelle said.

Weeks passed until the couple agreed that Mitchelle should make a few more calls. In the phone book under the heading "Abortion Alternatives" she found the Crisis Pregnancy Center of Metropolitan Richmond and dialed. The voice on the other end of the phone told her immediately that the CPC did not offer abortions, but that she could come in and have an ultrasound done for free. Mitchelle made an appointment.

When the day arrived, she first talked with a CPC counselor as expected-but then something happened that Mitchelle didn't expect: The nurse performing the ultrasound put a portable screen on Mitchelle's belly so she could see the baby.

"I was shocked. I wasn't expecting to see the baby," she said. "I was expecting to see the back of the screen."

That's because Mitchelle had had an ultrasound six years earlier. When she was 15 years old and pregnant for the first time, her mother took her to get an abortion. "They did an ultrasound, but they hid the screen from me so I couldn't see what the baby looked like."

As it turned out, Mitchelle was six months along with that child, a son, now seven and an ace second-grader whose mother sometimes shudders to think that he might not have been born. When the Richmond CPC nurse propped the sonogram screen on her tummy for a close-up view of Baby Five, "the first thought I had was, how is she able to let me see my baby, but when I went to the abortion clinic, they wouldn't?"

After seeing the CPC ultrasound, Mitchelle knew there would be no aborting her fifth child. "When I saw it, I was pretty much in tears. I didn't know that at [12 weeks] it was a full baby. Seeing it on the screen, realizing it was an actual person with fingers, toes, everything, I couldn't do it. . . . I knew I would be killing a human being."

After she told him what she saw on the ultrasound, the baby's father agreed that the time had come to get ready to welcome their newest child, due in late May, into the world.

Through her encounter with the CPC, Mitchelle said she's felt called to seek a closer relationship with God. Through the CPC's "Earn While You Learn" program-where expectant moms attend parenting, birthing, and other classes while earning "mommy dollars" to spend on baby supplies-she has been reading The Purpose Driven Life.

But Mitchelle emphasizes that CPC volunteers didn't coerce her into taking the classes, or somehow hold their services hostage, awaiting signs of spiritual growth.

"It was my choice," she said.

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