Life on Display in Times Square

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Looking at the stage during the Alive from New York event at Times Square on May 4th, 2019
Jeff Bruno

The miracle and mystery of life was on full display in Times Square as Focus on the Family organized the largest pro-life event in New York City’s history.

Thanks to the wonder of modern ultrasound technology, the thousands who gathered on a Saturday afternoon in May were able to see preborn life clearly as they witnessed the movements of a third-trimester baby — movements broadcast live in 4D directly from the womb to three jumbo-sized TVs. The giant screens were trucked in just for the occasion after several companies refused to let Focus lease space on the digital billboards already in Times Square.

Event organizers brought a mobile 4D ultrasound unit to the heart of the city in response to recently passed legislation that allows abortion in New York up until the moment of birth.

A celebration of life

Following several rain-filled days, the skies over the city finally cleared right before the event began. The massive gathering, called “Alive From New York,” featured musicians, athletes, abortion survivors and clergy, including Alveda King, the niece of famed civil rights leader Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

King recounted how, in the mid-1970s, she had her first ultrasound after already experiencing a live birth, two abortions and a miscarriage: “I saw a little baby, a beating heart, a live baby, and I said, ‘My God, my uncle is right: Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.’

“A woman has a right to choose what she does with her body, but the baby is not her body. Where’s the lawyer for the baby?”

Yet at a gathering filled with music, prayer, pro-life testimonies and, yes, protesters, the defining moment came when a larger-than-life image of a preborn child appeared on the 12-foot-high screens and stillness fell over the crowd. Times Square itself seemed to sense the moment as the ever-present honking horns and workaday din faded when the baby’s profile came into view, the placenta tucked up next to the tiny head like a pillow.

Even those just passing by could clearly see arms, lips and a fully formed spine as baby yawned and arched his or her back. Finally came the sight and sound of a beating heart — loud, clear and strong.

“The plazas were quiet and all you could hear was that baby’s heart beating,” said Robyn Chambers, executive director of Focus on the Family’s pro-life efforts. “As if he or she was saying, ‘I’m here, and I’m alive.’

“Then I heard the crowd collectively sigh. Times Square paused and saw life.”

‘We will see a day’

The unheralded star of the show was about 36 weeks along and resided in the womb of Abby Johnson — a former Planned Parenthood clinic director who left the abortion industry and whose story of a transformed heart is the basis for the recent film UnPlanned.

Johnson emerged moments later from the mobile ultrasound unit parked behind the stage to address both supporters and those lingering on the outskirts.

“There is a lot of burnout in the abortion industry because promoting death is exhausting,” Johnson said. “But I have never known someone who works in a pregnancy center to say, ‘I am so tired of helping women choose life.’

“Abortion is not normal. Abortion is not health care. And the one thing we need to understand is that those who speak out against life are people who are hurting, and we pray for them to find truth.”

Johnson summed up the sentiments of many that day with her final statement to the crowd: “Through this — through so many of the efforts that you guys participate in — we will see a day when abortion in this country is unthinkable.”

This article first appeared in the August/September 2019 issue of Focus on the Family magazine and was originally titled “Life on Display.” If you enjoyed this article, read more like it in Focus on the Family’s marriage and parenting magazine. Get this publication delivered to your home by subscribing to it for a gift of any amount.

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