It started back in 2019. Focus on the Family had long seen the undeniable power of ultrasound to connect a mother to her preborn child. In fact, since 2004, Focus’s Option Ultrasound has reported nearly 460,000 babies saved via the provision of free ultrasounds.
Knowing that ultrasound technology could give a voice to the smallest, most vulnerable among us, Focus set out to present a 4D ultrasound on the liveliest corner of New York City — 1500 Broadway and West 43rd Street, the heart of Times Square Plaza.
Before See Life: Alive in NYC
In his blog, DalyFocus, Jim Daly reflects on the Alive in New York event of last year.
“As an event, it had it all: beautiful and inspirational music from Christian recording artists Francesca Battistelli and Phil King, passionate and compelling speeches from evangelist Alveda King, former NFL star Benjamin Watson, actress Ashley Bratcher, pro-life stalwarts Marjorie Dannenfelser and Christina Bennett, and abortion survivors Melissa Ohden, Josiah Presley and Claire Culwell – and the live 4D ultrasound of former Planned Parenthood director Abby Johnson’s baby.”
Despite the optimism of Focus on the Family, their many special guests, and nearly 20,000 onlookers, the event quickly grabbed the attention of those who were in opposition to Focus’s cause.
Anti-life protestors hurled insults toward the pro-life attendees and spit at the mobile ultrasound unit as it arrived. Robyn Chambers, Executive Director of Focus’s Advocacy for Children, recalls her experience behind the scenes. Chambers, who was stationed in the mobile unit, witnessed first-hand how the medical team met opposition with Christ-like love:
“Among our many volunteers in Times Square were a doctor and a nurse from Bath, New York – the same area where Planned Parenthood founder Margaret Sanger was born. I also watched how a nurse and a pregnancy center director from Long Island reacted to the protestors who shouted vile things at all of us in the mobile unit.
The director saw their signs and heard the commotion, yet she responded with neither fear nor anger. ‘Oh, we need to pray for them,’ she said. ‘They are so wounded.’
When I looked over at the medical team, they held hands and prayed for the protesters.”
The Power of Seeing Life
Despite the opposition, the event carried on, and when the heartbeat of Abby Johnson’s preborn child echoed through the plaza, the atmosphere of Times Square radically shifted.
Just as Focus had hoped, the simple truth that life is in the womb amazed even those who had attended the broadcast in protest.
“…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 beautiful face as baby yawned and arched his back. Finally came the sight and sound of a beating heart — loud, clear and strong.”
Jim Daly also recalled the tranquil silence that washed over pro-choice protestors as the preborn child appeared on-screen in Times Square Plaza.
“When that ultrasound went on, there was a hush over Times Square that I’ll remember forever. And as that ultrasound — that baby’s heartbeat — began to play right down Times Square on these large speakers and these jumbotrons, the protestors just dropped their signs and looked in awe at what they were seeing. I don’t think many of them had ever seen an ultrasound or heard the baby’s heartbeat before. They looked that stunned!”
After the event, evidence of the rally’s impact started rolling in: two hundred fifty thousand people signed the pledge to help end abortion.
Media coverage of Alive in New York was just as diverse as the crowds that gathered to watch the broadcast, but whether the headlines labeled the event as pro-life or anti-choice, one thing was for sure: for a moment, the voiceless were allowed to speak. The most precious and discounted among the human race were given a chance to campaign for their right to life.
For Focus on the Family, the mobile unit workers, the pro-life advocates, and every special guest involved in the event — giving the preborn a voice was all that mattered. Mission accomplished.
This Year's Mission
This year, Focus hopes to, once again, give the voiceless a chance to speak. On September 26th, we’re giving the world another glimpse at, not what is in the womb, but who is in the womb.
Along with the showing of a 4D ultrasound, Focus on the Family has compiled life-changing interviews of those impacted by the abortion industry. From ex-abortion clinic workers to abortion survivors, we’re broadcasting their stories in a digital premiere event — See Life 2020.
We invite all who are willing to join us in our mission to end abortion and to give a voice to the voiceless by signing the pledge to acknowledge, defend, and #LoveEveryHeartbeat.