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11 / 03 / 2009 - High-profile photographer, pro-life advocate to speak
Ten years ago, Michael Clancy took a photograph that forever changed his life.
The freelance photographer from Nashville, Tenn., was working on assignment for USA Today to cover an experimental surgery performed on a 21-week-old fetus diagnosed with spina bifida. Toward the end of the surgery, the fetus thrust its hand out of the uterus, and Clancy captured the tiny hand on film as it squeezed the surgeon’s finger.
That image, which Clancy describes as “the earliest human interaction,” has circulated around the world during the past decade and has reformulated Clancy’s own sense of mission, from photojournalist to self-described “pro-life activist.”
“When Samuel reacted to the touch of the surgeon, it changed everything,” he said. “(Now) I go to pro-life events and speak all the time. I saw something that I wanted to change.”
Clancy will be the featured speaker at a fundraiser banquet for Life Choices of Ruston, a local crisis pregnancy center, at 6:30 p.m. Friday in the Louisiana Tech Student Center. Tickets to the fundraiser, which includes a catered dinner, are $50 each and can be purchased at Life Choices, The Avenue Bookstore and Christ Community Church.
Life Choices, located at 201 W. Texas Ave., offers a variety of services free of charge to the public, including pregnancy tests and counseling, referrals, relationship classes, Bible studies and post-abortion education and counseling. A parenting class called the Hope Program allows clients to earn “Mommy Money” and “Daddy Dollars,” which can be redeemed to purchase baby items in the center’s “store.”
Dell Jones, vice president of Life Choice’s board of directors, said the organization is supported by about 20 area churches, as well as by grants, private donations and fundraisers. She said the upcoming banquet will help the center raise funds to purchase and operate a new ultrasound machine — an estimated $20,000-$25,000 cost.
“We want women to have all the information they can in order to make informed decisions about their pregnancies,” director Jennifer Ham said.
She said the new ultrasound machine will provide clients with “another tool to make that informed decision.”
Ham believes Clancy’s photo provides a powerful perspective on the issue of abortion.
“Anyone who has ever had a newborn grasp his finger understands the feeling associated with that. To see an unborn baby perform the same action really makes you stop and think about the life that is there,” she said.
The image, however, has proved controversial after surgeon Joseph Bruner claimed to have posed the picture. Bruner maintained that the fetus had been completely anesthetized throughout the procedure and thus could not have reached out on its own.
But Clancy believes the image speaks for itself.
“(The photo) had the power to change hearts,” he said. “I don’t understand how people cannot see the humanity of an unborn child in that picture.”
Jones agrees. “That picture that he captured — it’s life, inside that woman,” she said.
Source: Ruston Leader