Sunday, August 19, 2001

Angels in lab coats

        In science-fiction, the future is a grim, dark place, where life is cheap and mankind's spirit is kept on a short leash by science.

        Men and women of the future are used like lab rats in experiments, killed to harvest organs or exterminated for convenience.

        Surprise: The scary future is here in China, where the livers and eyes of prisoners are sold to the highest bidders and humans have been killed in horrifying stem-cell injection experiments. The Chinese government now uses ultrasound technology to detect and terminate “unauthorized preg

        Half a world away in Cincinnati, untrasound exams are being used for good, not evil. At pregnancy crisis centers and free clinics, one sonogram picture of a baby in the womb is worth more than a thousand words in the battle to stop abortions.

        “A girl comes in who has just found out she is pregnant. She's wondering what to do, and like most people she has grown up thinking it's a blob of tissue,” said Jana Widmeyer of Cincinnati Right to Life.

        “But when they see the fingers and toes, and see the baby sucking its thumb, that's entirely different. There's no way that girl is going to walk out and have any doubt there's a baby in there.”

        Ultrasound pictures are 93 percent effective in preventing abortions. A 1999 study by Health Beginnings in Cincinnati tracked 75 patients who intended to have abortions. After ultrasound tests, all but five changed their minds.

        Many Americans are changing their minds, too. Before President Bush's eloquent speech, most supported stem cell research. Now most support Mr. Bush's position that human embryos should not be killed to collect stem cells.

        But the debate shows that an alarming number of people — even Superman and Mary Tyler Moore — have a religious faith in science. They believe human life can be created and killed for convenience or a cure, and science should have no limits.

        But for those who believe in the sanctity of life and the unlimited power of God, there's still hope.

        You can find it in people such as Dr. Pat Marmion. He has been offering free delivery of babies to prevent abortions since 1993. Now his four Healthy Beginnings clinics in Cincinnati have 40 doctors who volunteer to help.

        “They are 90 percent to 100 percent pro-life, Christian doctors who know our mission and feel very strongly about it,” said spokesman Larry Jacobs.

        He feels pretty strongly, too. Mr. Jacobs left a career at Procter & Gamble and took a pay cut to join Healthy Beginnings.

        “If you allow me to speak in spiritual terms,” he said, “God had other plans for me.”

        God may have other plans for Healthy Beginnings, too. Volunteer doctors there delivered 375 babies last year, double the number of two years before. Those little children are alive today because pro-life pregnancy centers and Dr. Marmion offered free medical care and support.

        Clare Ruehl, an advocate for life in Northern Kentucky, hopes Healthy Beginnings spreads: “We don't have anything like it.”

        Mr. Jacobs hopes to take the concept national, using faith-based grants President Bush has proposed.

        It makes sense. Healthy Beginnings offers free medical care, no questions asked. They serve mostly single mothers: 85 percent don't have insurance; the average age of patients is 19. And they provide prenatal care to reduce infant mortality — not to mention ultrasound tests that prevent infant mortality by abortion.

        Technology can be used for good or evil. Science should be used by man — not the other way around.

        E-mail: Past columns at


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