Saturday, May 9, 2009

Samuel Armas 10 years later -- the photo that helped change the abortion debate

It's been 10 years since this famous photo was taken of Samuel Armas, as an unborn child, reaching out of his mother's womb during fetal surgery. The photo has been used as powerful testimony to the humanity of the unborn child. "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," Samuel told

According to the story, "Samuel, now 9 and living in Villa Rica, Ga., said the photo likely gave countless 'babies their right to live' and forced many others to debate their beliefs on abortion, something he's proud of." The photographer who took the photo, Michael Clancy, changed from pro-choice to pro-life on abortion.

Here's some background:

In 1999, the unborn child of Julie and Alex Armas -- later named Samuel -- was diagnosed in the womb with spina bifida. Dr. Joseph Bruner was recruited to perform a pioneering spine operation on Samuel in order to save him from serious brain damage. Samuel was a 20-week-old fetus at the time.

A photographer in the room during the surgery captured perhaps one of the most remarkable photographs ever taken. It shows the tiny hand of Samuel reaching out from his mother’s womb to clasp Dr. Bruner’s finger.

Michael Clancy, the photographer, gives this account of the experience:

As a doctor asked me what speed of film I was using, out of the corner of my eye I saw the uterus shake, but no one's hands were near it. It was shaking from within. Suddenly, an entire arm thrust out of the opening, then pulled back until just a little hand was showing. The doctor reached over and lifted the hand, which reacted and squeezed the doctor's finger. As if testing for strength, the doctor shook the tiny fist. Samuel held firm. I took the picture! Wow!

It happened so fast that the nurse standing next to me asked, “What happened?”

“The child reached out,” I said.

“Oh. They do that all the time,” she responded.

The procedure was a success. Samuel was born on December 2, 1999.