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If You Don't See the Baby, Is It Still a Baby?

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of

I can’t count the number of times I’ve heard a variation of the riddle – “If a tree falls in the forest and there’s no one there to hear it, does it make a sound?” While it’s usually made in jest, those who pose it seriously are seeking an answer to whether the objective world operates in a fixed manner regardless of whether anyone sees what occurs within it.

The American Civil Liberties Union is offering us a 21st century rendition of this riddle in North Carolina, where they’ve pulled out all stops to keep women from viewing ultrasound pictures of their babies in the womb before deciding whether to abort them. The ACLU asks, “If you don’t see the baby, is it still a baby?”

The point of contention for the ACLU is the North Carolina Woman’s Right to Know Act, H.B. 854, which was enacted in July after the state’s general assembly overrode Gov. Bev Perdue’s veto of the bill. It requires an obstetric ultrasound examination and explanation four to 72 hours “before the administration of any anesthesia or medication in preparation for the abortion on the woman.” However, the law does not require that women look at the displayed images, listen to the baby’s heartbeat, or listen to the doctor’s explanations if she does not wish to. She remains free to deny the evidence of her senses, if she so chooses.

Why is the ACLU so worked up over the fact that North Carolina is still giving women a choice? One can only conclude that its real concern is that those who choose to view the ultrasound will do what tens of thousands of other women have done across the country: they will choose life over the abortionist’s scalpel.

Don’t doubt it, friends. Just as a tree falling in the woods makes noise when it crashes into the limbs of other trees and eventually impacts the ground—whether we hear it or not—so too a baby remains a baby whether or not her mother sees her on an ultrasound screen.

The ACLU would prefer that mothers continue to doubt, rather than see and believe. That leaves them vulnerable to Planned Parenthood’s tired old lie that “It’s just a clump of cells,” and maximizes profit for the abortion industry at the expense of human life.

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