CHESAPEAKE, Va. (Catholic Online) - “Pictures speak louder than words” goes the old adage. And, there is no doubt it is true. Most of us who are called “boomers”, and this writer is included among them, remember the extraordinary photo of 9 year old Phan Th? Kim Phúc, a little Vietnamese girl fleeing a napalm bomb attack on her village in South Vietnam. It was taken by AP photographer Nick Út and became a visual rallying cry during the Vietnam years.
Good photos have a way of saying much more than words alone can ever express. They also become associated with human rights movements becoming a catalyst for major social change. So it is with the photograph of a little hand from a little boy. It was extending from the first home of his mothers womb and grasping the hand of a surgeon who was performing surgery upon him at the age of 21 weeks to correct spina bifida. It has become one of the most powerful images in the human rights struggle of our age, the struggle to stop the killing of innocent children in the womb through intentional abortion.
In the midst of the verbal engineering which has sought to convince people that such an evil can ever be a “right” it exposes the lie without the need for words. In the propaganda war which has sadly convinced many that dismembering children in the womb - or killing them through chemical strikes - is some form of “health care”; it communicates the truth by exposing the evil behind every procured abortion.
This incredible photograph was taken on Aug. 19, 1999 by a man named Michael Clancy. He styled it "Fetal Hand Grasp". It appeared for the first time on Sept. 7, 1999 in U.S.A. Today. The amazing little boy was born on December 2, 1999 and his loving family named him Samuel Armas. His somewhat unusual first baby picture has become the most popular photograph in the great human rights movement of our age, the Pro-Life movement.
It has been used repeatedly to accomplish what spoken words have not been able to. It was, for example, used during the hearings in the US Congress on the “Partial Birth Abortion Ban Act" which finally passed after years of struggle against the forces of the culture of death. Many people believe that what could not be accomplished by truth and the facts of medical science was finally accomplished through this extraordinary photograph.The story of how this photograph changed the life of the photographer who took it can be found on the web page of Michael Clancy (http://www.michaelclancy.com). He recounts that “… in the hushed but crowded operating room where outsiders have gathered to watch a rare medical event - spinal surgery on a child still in his mother’s womb - a stool falls with a loud bang. ‘Shh’, says, Joseph Bruner, the surgeon leading the operation. “You’ll wake the baby.”
The little boy whose hand continues to be the reminder of the ugly truth concerning legal abortion is still awake and he is trying to wake up the Nation. He is reaching out again through photographs - and in his own simple words. Samuel Armas told Fox news "When I see that picture, the first thing I think of is how special and lucky I am to have God use me that way… I feel very thankful that I was in that picture."
He is 9 years old now and living with his family in Georgia. This remarkable boy told the reporter interviewing him that he knew that photograph gave countless "babies their right to live" and brought about a debate on abortion has helped to save many babies from its fate. "It's very important to me," Samuel said of the photograph. "A lot of babies would've lost their lives if that didn't happen."
His mother’s name is Julie and, like most mothers, she is proud of her son. As she prepares to celebrate Mothers day this weekend she knows that her eldest son has a "very strong sense of right and wrong”. She proudly told the interviewer from Fox “He identifies it more in terms of a pro-life message more than anything… This photo happened and God used it to show people that this baby in mom's tummy is alive. He's pleased that his photo conveyed that message."
The kind of surgery that helped Samuel is occurring fairly regularly now. We reach inside the first home of the whole human race to assist our youngest neighbors by operating on them the way we do all human persons. Then Doctors place them back in what used to be the safest place on the earth, their mothers' womb. Yet, we reach into the womb with surgical instruments to dismember other children. We rain down the equivalent of Napalm upon them as well. That is, if they are not wanted for any reason. They cannot escape like Phan Th? Kim Phúc did in South Vietnam. They die because no-one listened to their cry.
Abortion is protected by the positive law in the United States. It is called a “right” even though every induced abortion is against the Natural Law which can be known by all and is morally binding on all. Abortion is actually an egregious violation of the true Right, the Right to Life. Archbishop Chaput once aptly called abortion a “little murder”. He used the term “little” to refer not to the gravity of the evil but to the size of the victim.
As we enter into Mothers Day weekend we need to remember the women who were lied to concerning what really occurred in the Abortion they had. These mothers continue to suffer and are also victims. These little boys and girls wanted to be our neighbors. A Nation which prides itself on the Rule of Law and claims to have a commitment to fundamental human rights should not kill them. We now know what happens in every procured abortion and are without excuse. The shrill rhetoric of “choice” should not be allowed to hide the evil any longer. Medical science gives us clear graphic evidence that the child in the womb being killed is our neighbor. The 4D images of the baby boy or baby girl which new parents and grandparents cherish also show us their faces.
In the last Presidential campaign our President asked us all to remember that we are our brother and sisters keepers. He used the language of solidarity to remind us of our obligations to our neighbors. The question we must ask is the biblical one “Who is my Neighbor? Samuel is speaking with extraordinary moral authority once again; this time with words. What he is asking of us is very simple, give "babies their right to live".