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"the Hand of Hope" photo by Michael Clancy, 1999

“the Hand of Hope”by Michael Clancy, 1999

Six states have now banned brutal and inhumane abortions that dismember fully formed unborn children.

Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards signed into law “the Unborn Child Protection from Dismemberment Abortion Act” last Friday, joining — in order– Kansas, Oklahoma, West Virginia, Mississippi, and Alabama, whose citizens embraced the necessity of passing this model legislation provided by the National Right to Life Committee.

In coverage of this law, most outlets, particularly  the Associated Press, refuse to even use the term “dismemberment” which is defined in this legislation.  Also unsurprisingly, the media  never challenge abortion supporters to defend the appalling savagery of slicing a living unborn baby to pieces.

Yet, even with biased media coverage, the public understood the gruesomeness of sharp metal tools tearing apart the tiny limbs of well-developed children while in their mothers’ wombs.

A majority of Americans who increasingly describe themselves as pro-life know that abortion is not done on a blob of tissue. Many of them confirmed that understanding after seeing a famous photo of a little hand reaching out of his mother’s womb.

That milestone photograph is called  “The Hand of Hope” taken Aug. 19, 1999 by Michael Clancy. The photo took the world by storm when it first appeared in USA Today on Sept. 7, 1999. The tiny hand of Samuel Armas, at 21weeks gestation, is captured grasping the skilled hand of the doctor performing innovative surgery to correct spina bifida. All this occurs while Samuel was still in his mother’s womb.

“I could see the uterus shake violently and then this little fist came out of the surgical opening,” Clancy recalls. “It came out under its own power. When Dr. Bruner lifted the little hand, I fired my camera and the tighter Samuel squeezed, the harder Dr. Bruner shook his hand.”

Gov. Brownback

Gov. Brownback

Gov. Sam Brownback remarked about that photograph in his May 5, 2015 letter commemorating the signing of the Unborn Child Protection from Dismemberment Abortion Act in Kansas:

“What a visually impactful moment: the delicate, miniscule hand with each finger and nail, trustingly holding on to the doctor. There is little debate over whether the child in utero is alive; the debate is over whether or not the child is a life worthy of protection.

Clancy’s lens encapsulates so much meaning in that one shot: a vulnerable, functioning, unborn child, not yet ready to survive outside of his mother who nevertheless lies completely at the mercy of the physician’s medical talent—and ethics.

Clancy says he was “pro-choice” before the snapshot, but not afterwards.

He recognized in that one critical moment what was actually at stake in abortion—not a “choice” but a unique and unrepeatable human individual connected to the human community.

Truly, the unborn child developing in the safety of his mother’s womb is absolutely at the mercy of the laws regulating physicians. Preserving the dignity of that relationship between the mother, child and physician dictated that six states prohibit barbaric dismemberment method abortions.

All pro-lifers who have worked so hard to enact the Unborn Child Protection from Dismemberment Abortion Act —and those in other states yet to do so– would no doubt agree with this thought from Gov. Brownback’s letter:

“Protection is at the heart of this law. Protection of an actively developing baby with his or her unique DNA, and who can be seen thumb-sucking, hand-waving, and smiling in routine sonography. A defenseless child with so much potential.”

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Spina bifida corrected before birth on Samuel Armas, 1999F surgery

1999: Spina bifida surgically corrected on as-yet-unborn baby, Samuel Armas,whose hand grasps the surgeon’s finger. (Photo by Michael Clancy)

Infant pain capability is now so well established and studied that the specialty of pediatric anesthesiology has evolved to help tiny babies tolerate surgical interventions.

Consider how mainstream medicine acknowledges that newborns (including preemies) feel pain: circumcisions are now routinely performed after topical numbing and the World Health Organization recommends pain relief for the mandatory “heel sticks” drawing the child’s blood after delivery.

Medical researchers continue to test and analyze the kinds of pain-techniques that are most beneficial on tiny patients, leading to the increased surgical successes on children before and after birth. (Read about the photo here and here and developments in spina bifida here.)

In fact, science now knows that

between 20-30 weeks gestation, the highest density of pain receptors per square inch of skin develop in the unborn–five times the pain sensitivity that any child or adult will ever be capable of.

However, the developing unborn child has not developed the mechanisms needed to modulate and tone down pain, because that “pain-dampening” development occurs around 40 weeks gestation (term delivery) –and afterword!

Only the abortion industry wants to perpetuate the myth that unborn children are non-feeling and impervious to the experience of being dismembered. One wonders whether abortionists and their staff personally reject anesthesia for their own newborns and preemies that undergo medical procedures?

PAIN-CAPABLE LEGISLATION
The National Right to Life Committee (NRLC) led the charge to end partial-birth abortions –a gruesome method used on a child exiting the birth canal. In NRLCs overall plan to systematically dismantle the U.S. Supreme Court’s enduring support for abortion, they have crafted legislation presenting evidence that unborn children feel pain.

Kansas is one of the few states banning abortions at 22 weeks gestation (20 weeks post-fertilization) due to the recognized pain-capability of the unborn. While legal injunctions to the Idaho, Georgia and Arizona pain-capable laws have predictably been secured, we hope that state appeals of those decisions will be taken up for review by the U.S. Supreme Court.

HR 1797 is a federal bill, spearheaded by NRLC, that would ban elective abortions at 20 weeks fetal age, due to pain-capability. The measure is co-sponsored by all four members of the Kansas delegation to the U.S. House  and by both Kansas U.S Senators in a companion bill. The House Judiciary Committee could vote on the bill before mid-June, with action by the full House any time thereafter. For more details, go here.

The issue of whether aborted children could experience the pain of abortion had not been a specific consideration in the 1973 Roe v Wade ruling. In that era, surgery for preemies, infants and toddlers relied on taping the child to the surgical table to immobilize the body so that the needed procedure could be performed!

Can our country– where hospitals seek the best way to protect newborns from the pain of a needle prick –continue to allow the horrific dismemberment of pain-feeling children inside abortion clinics?

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