Handheld Ultrasound: A Peek at the Future of the Pro-Life Movement?

New technology hailed as a stunning leap forward in modern health care may be about to give pro-life advocates unheard-of power to save a life - in the palm of their hand.

At the Web 2.0 summit in San Francisco this week, General Electric unveiled the ultraportable and user-friendly Vscan, an ultrasound machine about the size of a large flip phone.  Dubbing it "the stethoscope of the 21st century," the company offered various scenarios in which the device could vastly advance the landscape of diagnostics.  

For pro-lifers on the front lines, the new gadget could hugely improve abortion-bound women's access to ultrasounds, which have been found highly effective in helping mothers choose life for their baby.  In the past, the sheer size of the devices has given pro-lifers a perennial puzzle over how to bring the heavy medical equipment into the paths of such women. 

Thomas Peters of the American Papist blog was among the first to ponder the new invention as a potential "revolution in sidewalk pro-life counseling technology."

Chris Slattery, the founder and president of the New York pregnancy resource center Expectant Mother Care, called the breakthrough "absolutely awesome."

Slattery said that his own operation has been actively pursuing smaller versions of the ultrasound - having just crammed his mobile ultrasound into a 15-foot cargo van, a step up from the previous 20-foot mobile home.

"Our movement is going more and more mobile with ultrasound," said Slattery.  Some pro-life organizers, he said, are so devoted to the life-saving benefits of ultrasound that they have created "a whole sub-segment of the movement" dedicated to providing mobile ultrasound. 

But while the vision of pro-life sidewalk counselors nationwide packing a personal ultrasound in their back pocket may be an attractive one, the new technology won't be available for general consumption.  Ultrasound sonography is tightly regulated by state law as well as national medical guidelines issued by the American Institute in Ultrasound Medicine, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, and the American College of Radiology.

Still, with equipment and training provided by organizations such as Option Ultrasound and National Institute of Family and Life Advocates (NIFLA), more and more pregnancy resource centers today have been able to open the technology to a life-saving venue.  Major pregnancy resource center groups now provide regular and ongoing sonography training for medical clinic affiliates.

"[Ultrasound] is the most powerful tool in the movement," said Slattery.  "I've been looking for a new ultrasound machine - and I want to find out more about this."

Kathleen Gilbert
Publish Date:
October 23, 2009
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The IFRL is the largest grassroots pro-life organization in Illinois. A non-profit organization, that serves as the state coordinating body for local pro-life chapters representing thousands of Illinois citizens working to restore respect for all human life in our society. The IFRL is composed of people of different political persuasions, various faiths and diverse economic, social and ethnic backgrounds. Since 1973 the Illinois Federation for Right to Life has been working to end abortion and restore legal protection to those members of the human family who are threatened by abortion, infanticide and euthanasia. Diverse though we are, we hold one common belief - that every human being has an inalienable right to life that is precious and must be protected. IFRL is dedicated to restoring the right to life to the unborn, and protection for the disabled and the elderly.   Click here to learn more about the IFRL.