Who is Afraid of the Ultrasound?

We’ve all grown accustomed to seeing images on an ultrasound screen, or at least the pictures held proudly by expectant parents. Some choose to share these images with their friends and family. Some broadcast it to their internet friends. Others keep the images to themselves. And there are some who just flat out think no one should really be sharing these pictures with a broader audience—namely a social media audience.

Last month the Today Show (I couldn't find the video) tackled this topic by asking whether or not it was appropriate for women to share ultrasound pictures publicly. But what was most surprising to me was not as much their uneasiness with ultrasound pictures, but their hearty approval of another form of showing your pregnancy via social media—belly pictures. Weekly belly pictures are as prolific as ultrasound pictures. I’ve been known to post both. But they went even farther than embracing simply showing off a bulging belly. Not only are belly pictures more acceptable than ultrasound pictures, apparently the more skin revealed during the photograph the more “beautiful” the picture becomes. A pregnant woman in a bikini is deemed appropriate, while a picture of an unborn baby a little bit creepy.

Nearly nude pregnancy pictures are not a new trend. From Demi Moore to Jessica Simpson, showing off your pregnant body is the thing to do when you are a pregnant celebrity. But add an ultrasound picture to that photo shoot and the image suddenly becomes awkward and inappropriate, as if the image of an unborn baby removes the beauty from a pregnant woman’s aura.

Of course this is hardly surprising in a culture that doesn’t acknowledge these babies as human beings. But it is sad. While it might seem encouraging that so many celebrities are making pregnancy fashionable and acceptable, their embrace of pregnancy only goes so far. To heartily embrace a baby on an ultrasound machine would require the media to go against its approval of abortion. By calling an ultrasound image posted on Facebook a little bit weird they are staying right in step with their belief that these babies really are nothing more than the mere potential for life—not a life itself.

Christians understand that our culture has it backwards. To embrace the pregnant woman is to embrace the life growing inside of her. You can’t have a belly picture without the little one that is making that belly grow with each passing day. No amount of dismissing ultrasound pictures as inappropriate for public consumption can deny the fact that the ultrasounds don’t lie. They tell a very powerful story about the life that is growing inside of the mom.

It shouldn’t surprise us when the media portrays images of pregnant women as more acceptable than images of their unborn babies. That’s to be expected. But we also should remember that you cannot separate the mom from the baby either—they go together.