Veteran photojournalist turns pro-life after taking famous picture
of baby in-utero
By Lifesite News
famous photo of baby Samuel's hand reaching out from the uterus of his
mother at 21 weeks' gestation during fetal surgery has turned a veteran
photojournalist hired by USA Today for the shoot into a pro-life activist.
Michael Clancy, who snapped the photo after seeing the baby's hand jut
out of the hole in the womb made by the surgeons, now offers his image
free of charge to pro-life groups.
Clancy explains that, "During a spina bifida corrective procedure at
21 weeks in utero, Samuel thrusts his tiny hand out of the surgical
opening of his mother's uterus. As the doctor lifts his hand, Samuel
reacts to the touch and squeezes the doctor's finger. As if testing
for strength, the doctor shakes the tiny fist. Samuel held firm. At
that moment, I took this 'Fetal Hand Grasp' photo."
Clancy says he wants to "print the picture of Samuel on posters for
donation to Crisis Pregnancy Centres," and billboards are next on the
agenda. "If you think you could help in putting the picture of Samuel
on billboards, preferably next to high schools and abortion clinics,
please e-mail me with your suggestions."
In his own words by Michael Clancy
As a veteran photojournalist in Nashville, Tenn., I was hired by the
USA Today newspaper to photograph a spina bifida corrective surgical
procedure. It was to be performed on a 21-week-old fetus in-utero at
Vanderbilt University Medical Centre.
At that time, in 1999, 21 weeks in utero was the earliest that the
surgical team would consider for surgery. The worst possible outcome
would be that the surgery would cause premature delivery, and no child
born earlier than twenty-three weeks had survived.
The tension could be felt in the operating room as the surgery began.
A typical C-section incision was made to access the uterus, which was
then lifted out and laid at the junction of the mother's thighs. The
entire procedure would take place within the uterus, and no part of
the child was to breach the surgical opening.
During the procedure, the position of the fetus was adjusted by gently
manipulating him outside of the uterus. The entire surgical procedure
on the child was completed in one hour and 13 minutes. When it was over,
the surgical team breathed a sigh of relief, as did I.
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 surgical opening to the uterus was closed and the uterus was then
put back into the mother and the C-section opening was closed.
It was 10 days before I knew if the picture was even in focus. To ensure
no digital manipulation of images before they see them, USA Today requires
that film be submitted unprocessed. When the photo editor finally phoned
me, he said, "It's the most incredible picture I've ever seen."
Editors note: This story behind the picture is photojournalist Michael
Clancy's opinion of the events as they took place during the surgery