On Dec. 9, just one day after the Hosea Initiative presented its first Courageous Life Witness Award to Secretary Ben Carson who accepted it on behalf of President Donald J. Trump, the Supreme Court of the United States declined to hear a challenge to a Kentucky ultrasound law. Some might see these events as unrelated, but with God there is no such thing as a coincidence and everything that happens here on earth happens for a reason, if only we have the eyes to see it. Allow me to explain.
In declining to hear the case, the Supreme Court offered no comment; so, because the Court took no action, it leaves the law in place.
To understand the law myself, I went out and found the actual text of the legislation as signed into law by Governor Matt Bevin.
Kentucky’s Ultrasound Informed Consent Act was passed in 2017. As listed in statute KRS 311.727, before performing an abortion, the law requires physicians or qualified technicians to perform an ultrasound and describe images obtained during the ultrasound to a woman thinking about abortion. It also requires doctors to listen for and amplify the heartbeat of the unborn child. Critics of the law say it forces women to look at the images and listen to the heartbeat at a time when they are most vulnerable; however, that’s not the case. A close read of the statute reveals this important section:
“When the ultrasound images and heartbeat sounds are provided to and reviewed with the pregnant woman, nothing in this section shall be construed to prevent the pregnant woman from averting her eyes from the ultrasound images or requesting the volume of the heartbeat be reduced or turned off if the heartbeat is audible. Neither the physician, the qualified technician, nor the pregnant woman shall be subject to any penalty if the pregnant woman refuses to look at the displayed ultrasound images or to listen to the heartbeat if the heartbeat is audible.”
So, it’s clear the law does not force women to look at the screen, view the images or even listen to the heartbeat. It allows for an informed choice. That’s all. Proponents of the law also argue (correctly) that women sometimes often regret their abortions. In fact, according to the Silent No More Awareness Campaign, more than 6,000 women have joined the campaign to share their stories of heartbreak and regret in an attempt to educate others and prevent them from making such a life-altering choice. According to the same website, nearly 700 men have also joined the campaign, saying they regret the ways in which they participated in abortion, whether it be encouraging their girlfriends to have abortions, paying for them, and, in some cases, just simply, not speaking up to protect the lives of their unborn children. In other words, these individuals have changed their minds about abortion.
These individuals are not unlike Dr. Bernard Nathanson. He, too, changed his mind about abortion. And what changed his mind? Technology. Technology that was brand-new in 1973, the very year my husband and I were born, the same year Roe v. Wade was decided by the Supreme Court.
In her book What If We’ve Been Wrong, Hosea President Terry Beatley describes Nathanson’s “eucatastrophe moment, a term that J.R.R. Tolkien coined to depict ‘…the sudden happy turn in a story which pieces you with a joy that brings tears …it produces its peculiar effect because it is a sudden glimpse of Truth …’”
Working as chief of obstetrics at St. Luke’s Hospital in New York City, Dr. Nathanson was not prepared for this “radical and revolutionary Scottish invention.” During the one and only interview she had ever had with him, Dr. Nathanson told her, “Terry, the bombshell was real-time ultrasound. It made everything come alive.”
Later, in the same chapter in her book, Beatley shares another quote from Dr. Nathanson.
“As a result of all this technology-looking at this baby, examining it, investigating, watching its metabolic functions, watching it urinate, swallow, move and sleep, watching it dream, which you could see by its rapid eye movements via ultrasound, treating it, operating on it, I finally came to the conviction that this was my patient. This was a person! I was a physician, pledged to save my patients’ lives, not to destroy them. So, I changed my mind on the subject on abortion.”
In other words, Dr. Nathanson had more information. Prior to the advent of real-time ultrasound, he did not have the full picture. He did not have all the information to make an informed decision, and that’s all the Kentucky law is about-providing information. We live in an information age, and shouldn’t we provide women all the information they need to make a truly informed decision about abortion?
I do not think it’s any mere coincidence the Supreme Court declined to hear the case on Dec. 9, just one day after the presentation of the first Dr. Nathanson Courage Life Witness Award. After all, God’s timing is never our own. The case was declined on the feast day of the Immaculate Conception, celebrated this year on Dec. 9 instead of Dec. 8 due to the fact that Dec. 8 fell on a Sunday. The feast marks an important milestone in the life of Dr. Nathanson for it was on that feast 23 years ago that Dr. Nathanson was baptized into the Catholic Church. Who could script that beautiful ending to two years’ worth of litigation? The answer, of course, is simple. The answer is God.