Michael Clancy: The Photographer Whose Amazing Pro-Life Picture Changed the World

National   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Jul 4, 2008   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Washington, DC (LifeNews.com) — He took the photograph that has become one of the most recognized pictures in the pro-life community and he shared his story with attendees at the National Right to Life convention. He recounted how a childhood filled with agony and despair led to a life-long dedication to advancing the pro-life perspective.

The photographer is Michael Clancy and his picture is of Samuel Armas grabbing a doctor’s hand during the operation.

Clancy grew up in a tough home where a rough upbringing and abuse of his siblings led him to contemplate suicide many times.

“I’m not a professional speaker,” Clancy related in his heartwarming speech, “I just take pictures.”

Clancy said he lived 43 years without purpose until he became a Christian and, within three months of his conversion, he received a call from USA Today to take a picture of a surgery of an unborn child with spina bifida.

“If that isn’t a slap in the face and a clear a calling for a mission,” he said.

Clancy said he was so squeamish he didn’t think he could eat the night before because he had never filmed a surgery in progress.

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He said it hit him early on that the surgery was controversial because it was to improve Samuel’s life and could have life of death consequences for the baby.

Clancy described how Samuel not only reached out of the womb during the surgery but flailed his arm about.

“Just as he lifted his hand in the motion I fired the first frame of a four frame sequence,” he said.

“At 21 weeks in utero the child is a human being that has the earliest interaction…. You can obviously see Samuel interact. Samuel stopped the action in the pictures,” Clancy explained.

“It’s not just my word against the doctors, it’s an amazing story that took a few seconds of time,” he said.

Clancy said one of the nurses involved in the operation said this was nothing unusual, making it clear to him he didn’t just imagine the picture he took.

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

Since Clancy took the photo, the Vanderbilt University doctor who performed the procured and mainstream media outlets have both denied that Samuel moved his hand willingly. Time Magazine had planned to run a story featuring a staged picture similar to Clancy’s and the magazine offered Clancy money to never show the world the photo of Samuel he took.

But Clancy won’t relent.

“I will dedicate my life defending this photo and its authentic,” he said. “This is God’s picture.”