Picturing Abortion

by Sarah Ackley

Hipocrite Reader ISSUE 14 | INNOCENCE | MAR 2012

The stunning fetal images by photographer Lennart Nilsson, first published in the April 3, 1965 issue of Life, have become iconic in the anti-abortion movement. According to Life Site News, Nilsson is credited with taking “photographs that the pro-life movement has found priceless: the earliest and most compelling visual images that give intimate detail and clarity to the humanity of unborn children in the womb.” Rev. Thomas Euteneuer, President of Human Life International, an anti-abortion advocacy organization, has said, “Images such as those created by Lennart Nilsson absolutely reaffirm the humanity of unborn persons, which is why they are so unpopular with pro-abortion forces.”

Nilsson certainly wasn’t the first to photograph the fetus. A number of photographs of embryos and fetuses appeared in the July 3, 1950 issue of Life magazine, but Nilsson was thought to be the first to photograph live fetuses in the uterus. The editor’s note of the 1965 issue of Lifereads,

The opening picture in Nilsson’s essay, a live baby inside the womb, is a historic and extraordinary photographic achievement… [A] doctor said, “As far as I know, in utero pictures such as Nilsson’s have never been taken before. When you take living tissue in its living state and view it in its natural surroundings you can see things you can’t see afterward. Being able to view the fetus inside the uterus, and being able to note its circulatory details, is rather sensational from our point of view.”


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Bargaining With A Six Year Old

By Jeevani Fernando

?I want a rickshaw from Bangladesh Mummy, and don?t forget the rickshaw puller too?. This was her trading skills for my missing her cake cutting ceremony on her 6thbirthday yesterday.??She had been all dressed up, poised with cake, candles, knife and family, waiting for me to come on skype and watch her through webcam.??And I was held up at a staff meeting where ?changes? were being debated.??I am so glad that my 6 year old daughter has adapted to changes in her life so quickly and so joyfully and with a zest for life and its challenges that I wish we grown ups had.??She ended the bargain by simply stating ?It?s okay mummy, don?t feel bad. I know how important Drik is to you?.??I must have done something right to deserve children like this.??Because, I almost didn?t.

My ZoeZoe by Piet de Jong

Six years ago, she nearly died. I nearly died.??Somewhere between stopping the pill and getting a permanent implant, my gyno died. And unknown (ahem) to me, a new life was growing within.??I neglected. I ignored. I didn?t want.??I already had two. I already had a very methodical, routine, life. Two kids in school, me enjoying my part time job, two puppies, one husband.??Life was good.??And then it got complicated.??I jumped into a river from 4 feet high hoping it would go away.??It clung on to me. For dear life.??At five months the new gyno said ?you are bloody complicated, your placenta has moved away from baby, go home stay in bed, put your feet up, get up only to go toilet? ?Ya right? I thought. ?Where were you all my life?? I thought.
I underestimated the complication. The kids I already had thought I was getting uglier by the day. ?You look chubby Mummy. Daddy hates chubby? My husband sat far away from me ? although too late in the day.??The puppies grew up and started eating everything in the house. My complication was eating away my sanity.??By five months I HAD to tell people I was pregnant. Again.??My mother didn?t call me for three days after the announcement. I visualized my father?s jaw twitching in anxiety. ?How are they going to manage?? he would have thought inwardly.??When my sisters called, they asked about everything else except my pregnancy. My brother bought an extra pack of beer cans. For himself.
I wanted to crawl away and hide. I couldn?t. At seven months I bled like kurbani time in Bangladesh. No pain, no warning.??I thought it was over. She stopped moving. For the second time in my life, I feared death. I was rushed to emergency at 3am.??Blood soaked and completely freaked out. Gyno gave me that ?I told you so? look.??He tried a transvaginal scan and the scanner wouldn?t go through.???Serious? he said. Diagnosis??? placenta previa (placenta had dislodged from the wall of the uterus and was now in my birth canal, one push and it will come out with baby still inside).??He turned around and told his team ?prepare her, we need to take the baby out? I held his hands and begged and pleaded to let me stay just one day. The baby was just bordering 7 months. Still too small to be out.??She was below average in growth.??She had not received enough blood. I had siphoned it all out.??I begged and begged.??I had to sign a form saying it was against doctor?s orders and on my own consent that I opted to keep the baby.
That was one long wait for dawn to break.??I wasn?t allowed to move even to change my bloody clothes. The heart monitor picked up her soft rhythm. When all had left and I was alone, I placed my hands on my distorted belly and asked forgiveness from my baby. I pledged to take care of her no matter what.??I prayed for God to equip me to take care of a damaged baby.??That was what the doctor warned me about.??Stunted growth, possible brain damage, handicapped. I prayed that the family will accept this baby unconditionally.??I prayed that God would give me life so that I should be the one to take care of this baby.???I believe that was when the healing took place.??I had fallen asleep.??She started moving again. Her heartbeat picked up and got stronger.
Gyno decided to watch. Yet, would not release me to go home.??I was assigned a medical intern to study my case. I stayed one week.??And in that one week, I made friends with other mothers with the weirdest problems ever.??One was sweeping the garden and the baby fell out of the womb!! She had not even known she had dilated. They brought her in with umbilical cord still attached and a fainted mother. I wheeled myself to her bed and talked to her nights on end.??The baby was in neo-natal and she had no idea of the condition.??I read the reports to her. It weighed only a kilo. No wonder she did not feel it coming out. I got friends to take pictures of the thing in the baby ward and bring it over. It looked like a slightly large beghuni. My case forgotten. Temporarily.
My case is now dancing to the ?Macarena? at 6 years of age.??Complete, wholesome and an energy that keeps the rest of us dancing too.??Her simple reason to things she does is ?That?s why?

A Night To Remember

By Jeevani Fernando

Heading to my flat. It will be a night to reminisce.
10 years ago this time, I was lying on a hospital bed, being prepared for a C-Section, in a cold and sterile surgical unit.? Waiting for my son to be taken out. I didnt know it was going to be a boy. I only knew it was going to be hard on the finances. Hard on my time with my daughter who was only 1.8 yrs. So many thoughts running in my head. A lone tear ran the side of my face. I couldn’t brush it off as my hands were strapped on the side. A woman could never feel more vulnerable than when on strapped down on a surgical table, with a swollen belly and a surgical blouse that doesn’t meet at the front. No pins allowed in the OT.? Cold and shivering and and not just because of the airconditioner. Wishing hard for the anesthesia mask to be placed quickly over my face so that I just go into oblivion. But the nursing staff was taking their time.? It was a teaching hospital and I didnt have to pay for the theatre. Only for the medicines. Care is expensive.
Then I heard a woman sobbing on the other side of the curtain. She sounded young and she was crying asking for a man, in Sinhalese. I mentally wiped away my own tears and fears and started talking to her. It was her first pregnancy. She was 23.? I said you should be happy and proud that you have come all this way with no problems. No pressure, no diabetes, baby’s reports were good and I could hear the radio monitoring the heartbeat of the baby strong and rythmic. Maybe she was scared of the procedure. I told her men are not allowed in these hospitals as the surgical rooms have more than one at a time.? What she told me next stopped me dead.? She said the baby’s father will never come, not to this room, he wasn’t even standing outside, he wasn’t even waiting anxiously at home. He just wasn’t anywhere near.? At 26 years, he was buried somewhere in the north of country. Died only knowing he was going to be a father.? He had joined the army only a year ago before their marriage. They thought it will end.? This was 1999.? Caught in crossfire. She hated Tamils.
Dear God, I thought. Here we are two women lying in the same room with not just a curtain separating us and our lives and the lives of our children to be born, but a world of man-made differences.? She went into labour.? I was weeping.? Not for myself anymore.? The nurse chided me. How little she knew of what was happening at that moment.? She went into panic and stopped pushing. They gave her sedatives and baby was delivered by forceps. Swarna gave birth to a beautiful baby boy, fathered by a soldier who, perhaps died in vain.? Life for a life. I saw the bloodstained baby being taken away to be cleaned up. I prayed God help her to forget the hatred and pain by just holding that baby.? I never saw Swarna again because she had a normal birth and in a different section.? I was the woman whose pelvic bones never budge, said doctor. Hence the slice and cut open procedure.

My son and me? Terryll Fernando

Although I was tempted to ask the anesthetist if she was Sinhalese, I was happy to be knocked out. That’s the good thing about C-Sections. There is a baby next to you when you wake up. Hopefully it is yours!!? He was taken out a little after midnight. The moment I saw his big coconut head, I thanked God for whoever discovered c-sections.? He was such a good baby. Slept soundly all morning while the other brats were screaming for nothing.? But he is always like that.? Happy to cuddle up to me. All day and night.? Even till he was seven.? A very affectionate and concerned fellow.? Never likes to see me cry or be alone.? He would assure me a hundred times, ‘don’t worry mummy, I am just here’.? Always warned me of pending danger.??? He would check out the house before I could walk in. A dinasour could be behind every door. One day I opened my notebook in the boardroom while at a meeting with old cronies and a dinasour stared at me from my notebook and a caution ‘be careful mummy’ left by my son. Very timely.
He has promised not to marry but instead take care of me. But that was at 6 years. I said wait till you are 16 years and check again.? He is superman, he-man, batman, iron-man all rolled into one jumping off washing machines and table tops with an old cot sheet for a cape. Broke his heart when the sister quipped, ‘you look like a peacock’. Even Superman needs his mummy to rescue him at times like these.? To him, I am a star.
Every year my thoughts go back to Swarna. Wonder what her son must be like.? Maybe one day I could trace her from the hospital records.