Australia Abortion Debate Impacted by 4-D Ultrasound Technology

International   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Oct 10, 2007   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Australia Abortion Debate Impacted by 4-D Ultrasound Technology Email this article
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by Steven Ertelt Editor
October 10,

Canberra, Australia ( — The use of ultrasound technology has been a significant boon to the pro-life movement in the United States in both opposing abortion as well as helping women in crisis pregnancy situations understand the development of their unborn baby.

Ultrasounds have prompted a renewed debate over late-term abortions in England and it is now affecting the abortion debate in Australia.

Kristin Savell, a law professor at the University of Sydney, says 4-D ultrasound technology has given the public direct access to the most lifelike images imaginable about unborn children.

She says they’ve given pro-life advocates a tool to discuss the personhood of the unborn child in significant and effective ways.

"The 4D images have been used by opponents of abortion to reinforce the complexity of the sentient fetus," she writes in the latest issue of the Journal of Law and Medicine. "Attention has persistently been drawn to the behavioral capacities of the fetus from around 18 weeks."

The 2-D and 3-D ultrasound images have relied on sound waves to produce moving pictures but the 4-D ultrasounds provide the added element of time and the ability to watch the baby move and respond and react in real-time.

"The idea that you can see a face and facial features is very central to how we understand ourselves," she says, according to a report by the Australia Broadcasting Network. "I was intrigued by the power of the visual and how it is impacting on the public debate."

She says this notion of personhood and the humanity of the unborn child has potential to reshape the abortion debate in both Australia and beyond.

"The power of the visual is legion and it seems to be having an impact on how the public is debating the issue," she says. "But only time will tell if this will lead to change."