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I’d like to share with you an unforgettable baby announcement card. On the first page of the card was this message: ”For months God skillfully and wonderfully fashioned our child in a secret place, hidden away from all eyes but His. The Creator flawlessly completed His work, on June 24th at 7:41 am, Matthew David Gubbins cuddled in our arms, now sharing his lifetime with us.”
So, nothing too unusual? I turned to the inside of the card, and there was another message. It said: “Moments later, our Matthew had finished his 54 minutes with us that God had ordained from the beginning of time. One last breath in his daddy’s arms and he was handed with gratefulness back into his heavenly Father’s arms. Our arms are empty now, but not before Matthew left his footprints forever upon our hearts.” It was signed, Love, Steven and Amanda.
A letter accompanied the card. It stated that when she was 20 weeks pregnant, a routine ultrasound showed that their baby had renal agenesis, that is, had no kidneys. They were warned of other deformities. Their doctor was quite put out because they wouldnt abort.
And so Matthew was born. I quote from their letter: ”His daddy was with him the entire time and was holding him when he died. Matthew was a beautiful baby. We thank God for the time we were able to spend with him. We had been told there was less than a 30 percent chance of a live birth, but he was stronger than they had expected, and he lived one hour.”
Amanda said, “I am thankful for the strong pro-life background both Steve and I have. If we had not known so much about the baby’s development, and that life begins at conception, it would have been much more difficult to make our choice. The past months have not been easy, and the pain and grief we feel at losing Matthew are very deep, but we will never regret the choice we made. It gave us a chance to share Matthews life. Further, there is no guilt when you choose to give your baby life.”
She said, “We feel the birth announcement has been an important statement that Matthew is and was a part of our family”. She finished her letter by saying, “Thank you for your work, Dr. Willke, in educating others to the truth about abortion, and your warnings about the pressure from doctors who recommend it. You are making a difference.”
My comment? Well, its certainly clear that these good folks, and their family, will always have a warm, loving memory of their child. You know, the memory of an abortion would have been very different.
Veterans of the pro-life movement will recognize this title immediately. And those of you newer to the movement will see this picture some day soon, I’m sure. I’m talking about the most widely used photograph in the world in the pro-life movement a photograph that is by far the most valuable, single picture ever taken in defense of the unborn—a photograph that I was humbly privileged to be part of discovering and publicizing.
It’s a picture of the perfectly formed, tiny feet of a baby only 10 weeks old from fertilization. They are held between the gloved thumb and forefinger of a physician. When you were only 10 weeks old, you were so tiny that you could have stood on your daddy’s little fingernail, and yet you were so perfectly formed that you already had fingerprints.
Thirty-five years ago, Barbara and I had spoken at the first annual California Pro-Life Council meeting. There I met a pathologist from Portland, Oregon, Dr. Russell Sacco.
Almost casually, he said to me, ”Dr. Willke, you might be interested in a few slides I’ve taken.” I was. He fished into his briefcase and came out with a few Kodachrome slides. One by one, I held them up to the light of the lamp. One of them was tiny feet. I was fascinated. Could I have a copy? Could I use it? He generously agreed.
Shortly thereafter, our first edition of Handbook on Abortion was published. Bound into it was a colored picture of Tiny Feet. Handbook and its successors went on to be published in 23 languages, in well over two million copies, and became the most widely read books in the world on the subject. Then the picture was printed in the Life or Death and Did You Know brochures in the tens of millions of copies and went on over the years to uncounted others around the world. A wise couple, Mr. and Mrs. Evers in Arizona, then created a life-size replica of those tiny feet as a lapel pin, beginning a major industry by that good couple. They called them Precious Feet. Youll find their pins throughout the world.