The Power of a Portrait

I recently came across the above photographs of a ten week old embryo on flickr, taken by an OB/GYN med student in India named Dr. Suparna Sinha, and I was struck by how beautiful they were. The mother had cancer of the womb, and her uterus, including her unborn baby inside, had to be removed. I can only imagine the pain that she must have felt losing this baby, having already been the mother of six children.

I made one of them my profile picture on Facebook, and the other day, one of my classmates from high school asked me why. I thought about it, and explained that I think that photographs of developing babies are one of the most powerful ways for people to realize the humanity of the unborn child.

I have been thinking about that though, and I think I missed the mark a little bit. It’s definitely true that they are powerful testimonies of the humanity of preborn children. But why?

I think photographs are powerful because it shows a real person, an individual, in one moment of time. These are remarkable photographs of what an unborn baby looks like at ten weeks, but it’s more than just an example of a fetus at a certain stage of development. They are also the photographs, the portraits, of a beautiful, unique, unrepeatable individual, who, sadly, did not live very long.

Photography is a medium that forges a unique connection, a relationship, between the observer and the one photographed, precisely it does not show an abstract idea, or a generalized model, but a real, and unique person, that if you had encountered in real life, would have been exactly the same. It is the same with photographs of babies in the womb, with photographs of babies killed in abortions, with the babies shown in the video HeresTheBlood

Those are all powerful because you’re looking at a photograph of a real person, and in looking at them, you forge a relationship with them. The babies photographed after being killed in abortions are not simply examples of one collective, nameless, faceless injustice. They are unique individual persons that were each victims of a distinct injustices committed against them personally.

For myself, the power of the photograph is precisely that it is the reminder that I need that defending the unborn is not simply “a cause”, or an “issue”, because people are not causes or issue, they unique, unrepeatable human beings that I have a relationship with simply because we both share our human dignity, and it is simply because of that, that I have an obligation to defend them.

  • Angelique Rice

    Although my baby was 12 weeks, his father took his unborn life when he abused me. Boise police did nothing, did not even suggest that I go to the emergency room, but instead told me "To knock it off with the dramatics" and they "aren't buying it". When I did go to the doctor the next business day, they determined the baby died 3 days prior- the same day of the abuse incident. Boise City prosecutor decided that there was not enough evidence for a case and it was dismissed. My unborn son (I honestly believe it was a boy) was murdered and no one did anything when I cried out for help.

    • Hutttnertina47

      Our society is so selfish that it will convince you that killing a innocent baby us the only way out.all we think of is us,us and how so called inconvient a child is very precious and the one person that started all the hate is margret sanger! She wanted to so call purify thehuman race,that the only reason contreceptives are around!

  • Debi V

    I am so sorry Angelique. Unfortunately your type of story is all to common. Pregnant women are very frequently victims of domestic violence and that often results in the loss of the baby. There definitely needs to be more awareness on everyone's part. The abortion industry and pro-abortion government officials fight tooth and nail to prevent pre-born babies from being deemed "victims" of any type of violence. Remember how Planned Parenthood and so called women's rights groups fought to keep Scott Peterson from being charged with 2 murders. If a pre-born baby can be declared the victim of violence then it undermines their entire rationalization. So much for protecting women's rights… they are only interested in protecting abortion…not protecting women like you or the babies they carry and love.

  • Estelle

    So sorry Angelique for your loss and the betrayal you must feel that no one helped you. I am praying for you concerning the loss of your son and that somehow your experience will help others.

  • SP

    Angelique – I'm so sorry for your loss.

    I lived in Boise in 1976 when I was a Freshman in high school and Planned Parenthood was very active back then. They provided birth control (and I'm sure abortions) to young girls. I remember my Freshman year friends back then telling me that I could go there to get the pill without my mother's knowledge. Boise has had a culture of death for a very long time.

  • Shiloh

    Brought tears to my eye, Angelique. Today, more women are succeeding in bringing action against those who cause the killing of their unborn babies. It's a real problem for pro-baby murderers/Planned Parenthood endorsers. These photographs make their arguments impossible.

  • kim

    what did the doctor do with this fetus?

  • Michelle

    What a beautiful little "tissue". Aaaachooo! God bless you.

  • Michelle

    p.s. Thanks for posting these pictures of this "fetus" (which means 'little one'). It truely shows Abba's beautiful, creative, and complex artistry. Sad that he or she was the victim of cancer though.

  • Brian Gibson

    Do you know the gestational age of this baby at the time of these photographs?

  • Jennifer Rego

    Brian, the gestational age was 10 weeks, according to the woman who posted them on flickr, which seems accurate for the fetal development at 10 weeks.

    And Kim, I'm not sure what they did with the baby's body.

  • Jennifer Rego

    Angelique, I am SO sorry to hear about you losing your baby and having to deal with no one caring, not to mention suffering from domestic abuse. I will be keeping you in my prayers… God bless you.

  • Peridot

    Angelique I am so sorry for what you suffered. My daughter's father also took her life at 20 weeks gestation. I was very young (15) and the police in my area had me so worried about the embarassment a trial would cause my parents that I didn't even press charges so that my parents never had to know. Nobody cared about or even acknowledged the ache of losing a precious child that I still feel 15 years later. There's a book called Wounded Hearts, it's a magnificent tool in healing. I strongly suggest it. Angelique, you will be in my prayers.

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  • Jeff Brodhead


  • Lela

    Peridot (beautiful name.) And Angelique your stories of your children are truly a sad reality in our culture. God is judge. All the hate towards these innocent lives will be used for His glory. May we all shine out Jesus' truth. I have deep respect for these 10 week little treasures and the Indian OB-GYN student.

    ALL human beings are our brothers and sisters. They are especially precious to Jesus. Psm. 139:13-16. (I have three gifts who are in glory, and I will see them and hold them.) Peace to all hurting mamas. His Comforter brings healing.

  • Seana

    When my son was born he almost died due to a hole in his diaphragm. Praise the Lord God that He led the doctors and nurses and healed him… now he is home. However, when I went through the month long stay in NICU 6 months ago, I saw many parents holding on and advocating for the lives of their little ones… many premature babies. My heart broke for them and the little ones that struggled to survive. There are successes, and there are tragedies.

    During this time, I was led to Isaiah where I read about the future… and the new Heaven and New Earth when Christ returns. No longer will a child be born and only live a few days… I am looking forward to that day when all children are born…. and live long. No longer will we need to advocate for the unborn… that will be a good day.

  • Victoria Bigelow

    I'm glad this was posted…and not just because it's good photography. It illustrates the very primitive level of development of the ten-week embryo. It underscores the sanity of the public policy decisions (e.g. Roe v. Wade) that support privileging the mental and physical well being of the birthed, full realized female.

  • Ninek

    Primitive? Look how delicate and beautiful the baby is, how clearly recognizable as a human and no other creature. It's an awesome testament to the humanity and beauty of the pre-born child. I'm inspired and amazed by this and it makes me more pro-life than ever.

  • Jill

    Victoria, it's startling how different your tone is from the others'. Your harshness is needed in order to justify what you know in your heart is violence to children. You know that this child is not primitive, but you harden your heart to his humanity and personhood and life in order to validate your life choices. Lord have mercy.

  • Alice

    It's a sad time when people feel forced to make the decision to abort an unborn child, but God is merciful and willing to forgive! Those who suffer the pain of knowing they took a little life can have forgiveness if they turn to the Lord and seek him honestly. Healing is possible!

  • James Mears

    Thank you for this very powerful photo and your accompanying thoughts. I pray that more people can break through the obstructions of government and media supported denial to see the truth and beauty of the human lives being destroyed through abortion.

  • Jennifer Rego

    "privileging the mental and physical well being of the birthed, full realized female"… Wow. So, Victoria, in other words the law exists to protect those who are most developed, and already most capable of defending themselves? That's backwards. Laws are intended to protect those at risk from being marginalized and oppressed by those who are more powerful then they are. Honestly, it's sad we need laws protecting the unborn, because they shouldn't BE at risk, but they are, so we do need laws to protect them.

    Your reasoning implies that an infant of 6 months, or a toddler of 2 years, etc, is less important than an adult female simply because she's "more fully realized". So, do you support a woman's right to kill them too, if they're getting in the way of her "physical and mental well being"?

    And for that matter, abortion has done nothing to "privilege the mental and physical well-being of the birthed, fully realized female", as evidenced by much higher rates of depression, suicide, infertility, cancer and other health complications amongst post-abortive women than others.

  • Terri K


    Thanks for your post! It's a perfect illustration of how this is really a war of ideologies. One side advocates for the human dignity of all people from their biological beginning (i.e. conception) to natural death. Simple and just.

    The other side (your side) says that whoever is in power at the time gets to determine a subjective arbitrary quality of life that determines whether a person deserves to live or die. In your case, the standard is "birthed…full (sic) realized" person. Arbitrary, isn't it? I mean, babies get "birthed" at all stages of development. And what does "full realized" mean? Go ahead, make something up…. One needn't have a PhD in rocket science to see how inherently dangerous that philosophy is. The scary thing is that so many people (like you) enthusiastically embrace a mindset that negates the inherent dignity of their own lives. When a "quality of life" ethic is the standard for determining who gets to live and who gets to die, then nobody is safe. It all depends on who happens to be in power at the time. It deems worthless the lives of anyone who is vulnerable for any reason, even if only temporarily (as in the case of pre-born children).

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  • jes

    the bible, the old testament, says that if a man causes an unborn child death, bc of violence or argument, that man is to be PUT TO DEATH as punishment for bringing death to that baby. amazing huh. God believes in life and rites before birth.

  • Paul

    I beliewe with all my heart, mind and spirit that all things, all life is made by God. This sad picture has been played out millions of times around the world, It has been my observation that the death of many children occured during the times of Moses and Jesus. Therefore it only makes sense that the book of revelation points to the destruction of the 3rd of the World Population. It seems obvious to me Christs return is near. I pray Gods blessings and comfort to all the mothers who have suffered this pain. Most especially the mother of this child. I can feel her pain from here.

    Maranatha – Our Lord, come!

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  • Pam

    Terri K..very well said.

    "The scary thing is that so many people (like you) enthusiastically embrace a mindset that negates the inherent dignity of their own lives."

    I found this to be a very thought provoking statement…

    When someone willingly denies or ignores (and those who agree) the reality of life in the womb so that they may justify the terminating of an unwanted child which they believe may complicate their future, do negate the dignity of life, including their own. The sanctity of their life has just been diminished as well as their unborn child's. Not in the eyes of God but in the eyes of the culture that allows such things to occur.

    Is this not the first sin committed back in the Garden of Edan?

    The delusion of autonomy…man's desire to determine right from wrong apart from God.

    Judgment will follow.

  • M.C. Evers

    Victoria–so should an intellectually handicapped child be put to death because he/she is not "fully realized" and is a "drain" on the resources of his or her parents?

    Also, why is it that you can go to jail for harming an eagle egg–a not fully realized eagle? Are you suggesting eagle life is more valuable than human life?

  • M.C. Evers

    Sorry for a double-post, but Victoria, need I remind you of Aktion T4?

  • cathi bie

    so sorry for your loss!!! I pray you'll remember your baby is in heaven!! Its never easy losing a baby, or child, or adult, even a gma! no matter the situation,

    its never easy!

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  • Leticia

    Peridot, BEAUTIFUL name. Beautiful baby, thank you for sharing. I am so sorry Angelique. I can only imagine the pain you must have felt losing your child at the hands of his father.

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  • Missy

    This saddens me… I had an unruptured ectopic (12) weeks. I had the most beautiful amniotic sac removed out of my right tube. I was surprised at how large the sac was. My tests results came back with my tube being unremarkable with good blood flow.

    When I see the pictures of mine, I wonder, was there a live embryo in there? No one told me. Nor was I told that a removal of an ectopic was also, according to my Catholic faith, a abortion.

    This was not disclosed to me before they removed it. I am severely saddened about this. I was heading towards my second trimester. My child had a heart, eyes, etc… I wish they would have been more informative before having this procedure.

    There are cases where embryos can survive outside of the uterus.

    • Jet1295

      I lost our third child to a badly ruptured ectopic pregnancy in April ’06.  I went to our priest, I consulted everything I could about Church teachings online and in the Catechism, to try to figure out the “okay” or “not okay” status of receiving medical treatment for the rupture that ended up causing a tremendous pooling of blood in my abdominal cavity. Had to be performed more like an emergency c-section than the laproscopic operation it was supposed to be; that’s how bad it was.  The baby’s heartbeat was already gone, and I could have died.  What they did with me was the only method of treating an ectopic acceptable in Church life teachings.  They removed my entire fallopian tube.  Even if the baby were still alive at that point, the loss of his/her life would not have been the primary focus.  It would be removing the damaged part of my body, that is, my tube.  This is where I really think the Church needs to be very, very clear, because I think there are many women who have gone through this who probably worry and despair over it.  If your entire tube was removed in order to treat the ectopic that was killing you, the loss of the baby is due to “double effect.”  The primary intent was not to kill the baby.  The primary intent was to treat the illness.  The baby died as the result of this, just as in the case that is connected to these photographs.  In that situation, the mother’s cancerous uterus was removed, and the baby died as a secondary result of this.  In the case of an ectopic, the acceptable, “double effect” treatment is to remove the tube, or the entire section of tube being affected by the baby growing in the wrong place.  There was at least one case where a baby was then transplanted into the mother’s womb and continued to grow, was born & lived until sometime in childhood.  The treatments that are not okay according to Catholic teachings, are the ones where the direct, primary intent is to get rid of the baby and save the tube.  One where the tube is cut open and the baby removed, and one where the mother is given a medication that basically dissolves the baby in the tube.  If your tube was removed, or part of it removed, you did NOT have an abortion.  Just as the woman in this story did NOT (despite what others here are saying) have an abortion.  The primary effect of the surgery was to remove the cancerous uterus.  The baby died because the uterus was removed.  They did not go into the uterus and cut the baby out.  The baby’s death was a double effect of the surgery to remove the cancer.I am sad to say that if they removed the sac but left your tube intact, this is considered abortive.  But you were not well-informed by anyone, and I strongly suspect your culpability would be greatly reduced.  You didn’t agree to that treatment with full understanding of it.  Many hugs and prayers to you.  An ectopic pregnancy, or something like uterine cancer while pregnant…are just not discussed clearly enough, in my mind.  Like a “regular” miscarriage, they are often very painful and tragic, but that ends up compounded because you’re left wondering…”if my baby had been in the right place, wouldn’t I be holding him/her now?”  I always said, I think I would have been more accepting of a first trimester miscarriage (I was at about 6 weeks with mine).  Sad and devastated, of course.  But at some peace that there must have been something wrong with the baby for that to happen.  Ectopic, or someone having a hysterectomy due to uterine cancer — a bit harder to swallow because it’s likely nothing was wrong with the baby.

      So sorry.  God Bless.   

      • Jet1295

        If this site will allow me to share a link, here is a discussion about Church teachings about ectopic pregnancies and double effect.

        • Jet1295

          Anyone reading this, please note that as I read further, I realized the conflicting comments of the posters on the thread.  Many are actually inaccurate as far as what the Church actually has to say about treatment of an ectopic.  Three I’d like to point out that are actually good comments, are I think #13, #16 & #51.  The references to what Father Frank Pavone of Priests for Life has to say about it are the strongest regarding ACTUAL Catholic, pro-life views. 

          A much better link, with an in-depth discussion on this matter, is:

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  • Rosalinda

    I am in love with this picture. So much so, I had cards made with this beautiful image on the front and sent them to every single priest in our Archdiocese, with a hand written cordial invition asking them to lead us in prayer at Planned Parenthood. I have received 10 calls from priests out of 350. We started a Priest Led prayer vigil last october and have consistantly enjoyed the leadership of a Deacon or Priest every single month leading NO LESS than 125+ people in prayer right in front of Planned Parenthood every 1st Saturday of every month. It's a glorious experience. Please always pray to St. Vianney that our priests are given the graces they need to lead us in the path of courage and rightousness.

  • Jodi Peterson

    Thank you so much for publishing this picture and article. Certainly not the "blob of tissue" the abortionists try to portray. May the tragic end of this baby's life produce compassion in the hearts of those who are hardened. May we grieve over what grieves God.

  • CS

    Is there a way to Share this on Facebook? Post it to my profile?

  • Desiree

    This picture is beyond stunning I believe God allowed this picture to happen because he knows this is going to be undeniable to someone somewhere that life begins in the womb.

    I must say that many people are hurting from the pain and guilt of

    abortion and thats a real reason many dont admit what an amazing being is in the womb. My aunt when I showed her a family members 10 week ultrasound just repeatedly said they must have the age wrong i think they are wrong. (shes been through an abortion) its very difficult to understand but they just dont want to believe what theyve done sadly its the first step towards healing.

  • Thomas Yonan

    Awesome photos. I posted one on my blog. Also, we generally refer to the pre-born child as a "fetus". While this is correct terminology, "fetus" sounds so impersonal. Hence, I typically use the alternative expression "prenatal child". The early feminists, Susan B. Anthony, et al., who were opposed to abortion, would use the terms "prenatal child" and "antenatal child" as well. The early feminists simply called abortion "child murder." See….

    In sum, I think we should get in the habit of using the more personalized term of "prenatal child" whenever possible.

  • Catherine Wood

    Victoria Bigelow permalink

    VICTORIA BIGELOW: I’m glad this was posted…and not just because it’s good photography. It illustrates the very primitive level of development of the ten-week embryo. It underscores the sanity of the public policy decisions (e.g. Roe v. Wade) that support privileging the mental and physical well being of the birthed, full realized female.

    What exactly did you find primitive Victoria? The large eyes looking at the childs world from the safety of her mothers womb? The tiny ears that hear the mothers heart beating? Was it the tiny fingers and toes that you found so unworthy? Or was it the large beating heart, seen so clearly through the thin transluscient skin, that cemented your hatred of the one miraculous gift that God gives to women, the ability to assist Him in the creation of life.

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  • renee

    i had an abortion when i was 17. very few days go by when i dont regret my decision. i have had a great life but always wonder what my child would look like, i pray that one day i will be able to forgive myself but i dont think that day will ever come. Seeing photos like this make me feel about an inch tall .. i would give up anything to feel my babies skin :'(

    • jodi

      Renee, there is hope and healing.  Contact your local pregnancy care center and they can put you in touch with someone who can help you heal.  I know they helped me.  I too made that uninformed decision. I too regret my abortion

    • Mattnickv

      Oh My dear Renee,
      there is nothing you can do that can seperate you from the love of God. Ask to be forgiven for this sin and all others and you will be forgiven. Please do not live like this anymore, you made a mistake, you were a child and you now are an adult who realizes what you did wrong.  It is not about forgiving yourself, ask God to forgive YOU. He will, he knows what you did and he grieves for the baby and you but He is willing and able to heal your pain, regret and self pity about this sin. God bless you and God heal your heart in this issue.

    • Guest

      I will be honest I felt the same way…I too had the same exact situation. I was fresh out of hs and was a State away from my family. My doctor told me to go to the clinic and I was driven there a few hours later. I will never forget that day. It makes me cry just to think about it now. I live with so much regret and in fear for what I will face come judgement day. I am a strong Christian now, have 3 amazing children who are complete blessings mis-carried twice (which the first time I blamed myself for what I had done as I felt it was my punishment) I don’t talk about it to anyone. My husband knows and he is so kind and tells me I was young and that God DOES forgive me. But reading your post literally summed up ME exactly…reading the harshness in peoples tones breaks my heart and makes me feel even guiltier. It took me 10 years before I told my own mom…she cried with me. I feel so much better when I can talk about it, but don’t wanna feel judged as I DO regret my decision. I pray for forgiveness on a regular basis…I just hope He hears me.

  • Paula Risler

    Renee…you can turn that sorrow to repentance with God's help! Ask Him! If you know Him already then you know you are forgiven and you can "use" that repentance to serve Him and others. Go out with your regret message and help women to choose life for their babies. Talk about the humanity of the preborn baby and about what God says about abortion "Thou shalt not murder". Tell them about the only balm for their soul, Jesus the Christ.

    Does anyone know how I can receive permission to copy this picture? I would like to make it into a poster.

  • AnnaMarie

    So in Victoria's eyes anyone deemed primitive or not fully realized should be discarded. So the lady in PA who killed her 5 newborns and discarded them in coolers in her closet is justified?? ?
    Remember your words in 2030 when the newly established Global Governance aka OWO (both can be googled) decides anyone not towing the line in regards to their new laws and policies deem you unworthy of existence. Or when you decide to retire and are no longer contributing to the work force you can be euthenized.

  • Jotunn

    I thought to myself "Don't do this, whatever you do…. don't do this" but then I thought, "Though you can't win against a fundamentalism, but it'll be fun from your side at least"

    so here goes..

    Maybe this is bad, but M.C. Evers… Did you really just compare a comment on about Nazis? This is heinous? Comparing "Victoria" here with a Nazi is absolutely absurd, that is a shameful tactic of internet debate. Low-blows are a way of saying "I'm right, you're wrong, but because I know no way of proving it… you're a (Nazi in this case)" C'mon dude, someone strikes up a debate and that's your response? You even added in the word ""Drain"". What?!

    Victoria, I don't know how I feel about what you said. It seems mostly vague and unintelligible to me so I don't see why everyone is so mad. I can't even really understand what you're saying. In fact it seems almost deliberately set off to imply something bad, but is still easily defendable. weird… who knows?

    If only there were an Atheist God to pray to… Oh that's right? That wouldn't make any sense? Theology quite often makes no sense, and I even knew this at a young age when I was allowed freedom by my parents to not go to church. I'm pretty thankful of them, but when I read this crap I get really irritated.

    This is setting it straight, if you want to play hardball, leave God out. You know what really makes me not want to be Pro-Life? It's the apparent connection with "God". It's never about any other religions, Buddhists don't support "pro-life-agenda" on the corner, Muslims aren't holding up signs, it's always white Christian people. What does this tell me? That if the only leg you have to stand on is God, you haven't got much.

    If you really want to win the debate, (which can still be won with me, and trust me, you want me on your side) can we here some facts? Can we say what we don't know, and what we do know? The Bible is not a reasonable place to gain evidence, simply because I reserve the right to disagree with it based on it's fundamentals.

    So instead of saying "Oh how precious! How Cute! and whatever" can we please roll in some facts?

    Who about when a mother gets raped?

    What about incest?

    What about genetic disorders?

    All these are questions you can have two sides too.

    Have fun with me.

  • seda

    ay bu foto çokkorkunc byy