A stunning photograph of an unborn child reaching from his mother's uterus and grasping a doctor's finger during surgery took center stage at a Senate subcommittee hearing.
Samuel Armas, now 3 years old, answered questions posed by Sen. Sam Brownback, R-Kan., last Thursday as he chaired the Senate Commerce Subcommittee's examination of recent advances in surgery conducted inside the womb.
|(Photo copyright Michael Clancy. Used with permission)|
As WorldNetDaily reported, the photograph by freelance photographer Michael Clancy at a Vanderbilt University hospital in 1999 captured a moment during a new procedure to treat spina bifida, conducted only 21 weeks after conception.
Samuel's parents, Alex and Julie Armas, testified at the hearing along with Samuel.
Brownback asked the boy: "Have you seen this picture of you?"
"They fixed my boo-boo," Samuel said.
In his introduction, Brownback said "this hearing is not about abortion; rather it is about advances in therapeutic interventions that are effectively treating people suffering from diseases before they are born."
He added, however, "There is little debate about whether the child in utero is alive; the debate is over whether or not the child is a life worthy of protection. That is a debate we will continue to have and will have another day."
Julie Armas told the committee she and her husband were informed at least half of all babies with spina bifida – a disease that damages the spinal cord – are aborted.
"But abortion was never an option for us," she said.
"We wanted people to know that there is an educated, professional couple out there who love and value their child even though he is 'defective' by society's definition," Armas emphasized. "No matter what Samuel's outcome is, we know that God has allowed him to impact others with a photograph of his tiny, unborn hand."
Samuel's father, Alex, said he and his wife never considered such a terrible diagnosis could lead to "blessings."
"But the way things have worked out, the photograph is the least of this, as far as we are concerned," he said. "Our whole reason for deciding to agree to the photograph has been fulfilled on a larger scale than we could ever have dreamed. People have found out about the surgery, and we are happy with that."
'Made a pro-lifer out of me'
The photographer, Clancy, has said the experience of taking the picture, published worldwide, "made a pro-lifer out of me."
He said he previously was unaware abortions can be performed after the fourth month of pregnancy.
On his website, Clancy says he is willing to donate the photo to non-profit organizations, including groups that counsel women seeking an abortion.
He hopes to raise funds to produce posters of it that can be used by Crisis Pregnancy Centers. Next on his agenda, he says, is production of billboards that can be posted "preferably next to high schools and abortion clinics."
"He was using this photo [also seen in] the National Enquirer as a jumping-off point to talk about partial-birth abortion," said Fox News spokesman Brian Lewis. "It was a picture of an emergency operation for spina bifida. We thought it was a blatant misrepresentation. It was a straight editorial decision."
In a column, WorldNetDaily Senior Editor Elizabeth Farah cautioned the network about its reason for censoring the picture.
"Would you have allowed Matt to make his point by displaying a picture of a different pre-birth child – this one a victim of abortion?" she asked.
"If memory serves, no picture of an aborted baby's body or video has ever been seen in an establishment paper or on an establishment network," Farah continued. "The word censorship comes to mind."