Ultrasounds and Sonograms Save Babies’ Lives—A Call to Support Pregnancy Care Clinics

Editor’s Note: Pregnancy care clinics in San Diego County—the author’s residence, have recently been under serious attack to be shut down.  Please see the footnote below about today’s December 5 meeting with San Diego County Supervisors and how to influence them.[1]

My wife and I had determined we fully filled my quiver this January with the delivery of our daughter.  So, I was quite surprised this June when she hinted that another little reward was likely awaiting us in her womb!  I responded, “That’s impossible!”—not out of desperation, but confusion about how it could have happened during the identified month of conception.

Yet, indeed, next March we are expecting our eighth covenant child.[2]  We learned through an early blood test that he will be our fifth son, and we are now praying for him by his name, Gaius Ezekiel Van Leuven.[3]  Naturally, we ask of the Lord that our “Little Guy” makes it to full term healthy and strong.  How frightful that such prayer cover proved important for him just to survive my wife’s first gynecology visit!

Right at the start, the lady doctor asked if we had planned the pregnancy.  When my wife sheepishly admitted that through natural family planning we had tried for her not to become pregnant,[4] the doctor cavalierly responded, “Do you want to be?  You don’t have to be.  This is California.” 

Thus, she lectured my wife while our then eight-month-old daughter, grinning her fresh cut choppers, giggled and bounced upon my knee—whom the doctor had already googled over upon entering the other end of the cramped patient’s room where we were tucked into a tight corner behind the door waiting with Mamma awaiting her checkup on the examination chair.  My wife and I were flabbergasted; but she quickly reacted resolutely confirming that we would gladly receive our gift from God.

The doctor, a mother of one young daughter who was filling in for my wifes normally assigned and supportive gynecologist, shockingly defaulted to this sly rhetorical implication and pressure: “No, you don’t, do you?  You have too many children already.  You’re forty years old and you just cut your last child’s umbilical cord only a few months ago—her belly button has surely barely healed over.  Let’s end this now.  You don’t need this.  You don’t want it.”[5]

But after seeing that her preliminary temptation was a lost cause, the doctor conceded to the second selection column of her mental checklist and wheeled over the ultrasound machine, flicking on its hum and beeps and blinks.  As she guided its scanning wand over my wife’s gel-lathered tummy, we watched in wonderment while our son kept kicking with his Mamma’s long legs and his strong heartbeat pulsed and scratched across the screen in real time!  It is always amazing.

I couldn’t believe how this medical professional who would have taken the Hippocratic Oath could now hypocritically look at our baby and enjoy him with us on the monitor just minutes after first offering to kill him; and frankly, robustly suggesting we take her up on that offer.

But what really struck me later as we strolled toward the hospital elevators and paused outside its entryway—repeatedly smiling over the sonogram strip of baby pics, was this: the doctor did NOT propose turning to the ultrasound machine in the room so we could see our living baby until AFTER we had affirmed we would keep him alive.[6]  And that timing it seems to me was strategic. 

Had we expressed uncertainty and been led toward aborting our baby, very likely we would never have been presented with the choice to look at him moving on the monitor before the deed was done and he was dead—nor have to face his little face in the aftermath.  How could we see his heart beating and then have the heart to crush it?  Of course, the doctor didn’t provide the pregnancy scan possibility during her initial inquisition!

But how many uninformed others hear no mention of the ultrasound machine before naively leaving it unplugged in the corner and then silencing a baby’s voice forever? —because of the powerfully persuasive and prejudiced push of a snide doctor’s urging?

Think about her alarming question, that, with her follow-up statements, was a barely veiled suggestion.  She stated them very matter of factly with no, “On the other hand,” about first taking a look at our son’s tiny hands.  Think about that line of questioning in a context that might be different than our own. 

Abortion is never an option for us, even if the earlier blood test that revealed his sexual gender had also shown chromosomal mutations.  Still, we were stressed.  At first, we were afraid of what others would think about us.  After all, both our mothers had been on independent campaigns for us never to have any more children—one instructed not to inform her if we conceived another; the other pointed to a young couple visiting our church—at the same time she was visiting us—who was expecting again only five months after delivering their last baby and she wished such a situation would never befall us (at that moment, we concealed that we were in the exact same situation).[7]  And of course, suffering sleep depravity with a teething infant overnight while two toddler boys insisted on being our premature alarm clocks every morning as we crawled out of bed to homeschool one of them along with our older sons or bus them to bi-weekly class days and weekly academy and tutoring and music club (most which required on-site parental volunteering) caused us to gulp a little.

Still, because we are Christians, and we believe the truth that children are God’s blessings as proclaimed in Psalms 127 and 128, and that they have a right to live out their lives already begun with God as He had planned per Psalm 139, we did not allow the doctor to evilly influence us.[8]

But what if there wasn’t a husband in the picture?  Or what if there was but he was demanding an abortion?  What if a single mother was an intimidated teenager with a boyfriend threatening to abandon her, no obvious provisions, and only parental objection?  And at a time when hormones especially confuse, depress, and make ladies vulnerable and impressionable to the implications of such judgmental, oppressive, and leading questions?  And with no ability to first look at her living child was made available to her?

This experience reminded me of how incredibly vital the offering of free ultrasounds and sonograms are at support centers to encourage pregnant women to see, choose, bear, and birth their children.  According to a recent newsletter by the Pregnancy Care Clinic (PCC) in San Diego, “Providing free ultrasounds is an essential service that we offer …”  No surprise therefore that California has sought to stop any physicians practicing as sole proprietorships from being allowed to perform ultrasounds with its AB1720 amendment petition.[9]  The Devil knows what he’s doing as a lying murderer.  Ultrasounds save children’s lives.

CAPS Pregnancy Clinics in San Diego shares this recent testimony:

Olivia* and her boyfriend came to one of the CAPS clinics toward the end of 2022 to verify a pregnancy.  Still in college and thousands of miles from family, the couple felt this pregnancy was mistimed and were considering abortion.

After the ultrasound, they left with a lot to think about and an invitation to return for a second ultrasound.  Less than two weeks later, Olivia and her boyfriend returned to CAPS with their minds made up: they would keep the baby![10]

Similarly, PCC tells Jessica’s story, who came to the ministry at age 16 and found out that she was pregnant.  Though she was reluctant, they scheduled a time for her to come back for an ultrasound:

She returned with her mother for the ultrasound appointment. When the nurse brought her to the exam room, Jessica told the nurse, “I dont think I can keep the baby.” Her mother was not being supportive. To make matters worse, her father illegally threatened Jessica that he would harm her baby if she brought it home. Both her parents were pushing her to have an abortion. When the ultrasound was underway, Jessica saw the babys beating heart and couldn’t take her eyes off the screen. She kept saying, Its so cute!” What she thought was such little significance and in the way of her dreams became real before her eyes. The volunteer advocate and the nurse spoke to her about open adoption as an alternative to abortion … She left that day, still unsure of what she was going to do … Months later, Jessica returned with her newborn baby daughter … She was beaming with the news that her mother loved being a grandma and wouldn’t have it any other way![11]

That’s the power of meeting your child face-to-face through such a portal.  And conversely, that is the power of keeping that wondrous window of introduction veiled with one’s baby out of sight and mind.  Focus on the Family gives this witness:

In abortion clinics, ultrasound is rarely, if ever shown. Our 100% donor-funded Option Ultrasound program equips pregnancy medical clinics with ultrasound machines, nurses's onography training, and other capacity-building grants so that women considering abortion can see their child.

And when women get the choice to see and hear their pre-born child, amazing things happen.

More than 54% of women considering abortion who receive counseling and an ultrasound choose life.

Since 2004, more than 472,000 women have chosen life for their babies.

When I was in my early 20s, I did not know the Lord. I found myself pregnant twice within a two-year span. I ended up having two abortions. I want to think that if someone ha[d] reached out to me in love, and I had the opportunity to see the babies, I would have chosen LIFE …” –Deena, West Virginia, Option Ultrasound Life Advocate[12]

That day—when my wife and I marveled over this first family video of our new son in the doctor’s office, we joyously brought home the sleeve of sonogram shots to share his face, figure, and feet with the rest of our covenant children.  I took a special photo with my camera of them gleefully gathered around Mommy in our living room to catch a glimpse of these preciously captured images of their little brother while she proudly draped the sonogram strand over her burgeoning belly that still shelters him.

No doubt, viewing ultrasounds and seeing sonograms saves babies’ lives—please support your local pregnancy care ministries to own and offer them early and often (and to stay open!).

Grant Van Leuven has been feeding the flock at the Puritan Reformed Presbyterian Church in San Diego, CA, since 2010.  He and his wife, Fernanda, have seven covenant children: Rachel, Olivia, Abraham, Isaac, Gabriel, Gideon, and Giulianna (and Gaius Ezekiel expected this March!).  He earned his M.Div. at the Reformed Presbyterian Theological Seminary in Pittsburgh, PA.

[1] “Crisis pregnancy centers have become a new focus in the debate over abortion. California lawmakers tried to ban them, and the state attorney general is pursuing legal action against them.  And now … San Diego County District 3 Supervisor Terra Lawson-Remer is asking the board to consider a policy to explore lawsuits that could shut down up to 16 crisis pregnancy centers across the region.”  Source: KPBS San Diego.  See https://www.kpbs.org/news/health/2023/11/06/crisis-pregnancy-centers-could-face-legal-action-in-san-diego-county

Mr. Josh McClure, Executive Director of Pregnancy Care Clinic in San Diego, just shared this constituent update:

In the last 24 hours we have witnessed an incredible change. I shared with you yesterday [November 30] that the San Diego County Supervisors would hear a proposal [on December 5] meant to attack all the Pregnancy Centers in the County. Today we learned Supervisor Tara Lawson-Remer withdrew her proposal from the agenda. Praise God for this mercy! This is a relief. I received reports today indicating the links in my last email were not working. This is because the County was scrubbing access to everything since it was not longer an agenda item. Fortunately, I have a copy of Tara Remers proposal here.

I am pleased to share that since it is withdrawn, she cannot sneak it back into the agenda for December 5th.  She can however bring it back in January or any other month …

You can still help!

… Every regular County meeting includes time for public comment on non-agenda items. Agenda 25 is no longer on the agenda! We can make public comment during Agenda Item H”. The Supervisors have to listen, and they do not get to comment. And it all goes into the public record. Here is the final agenda for the December 5th meeting. There are three ways to help!

  1. Pray and remain vigilant with us. We know Supervisor Remer and Vargas want to see our clinics closed down. We dont know if they will try again with this proposal. This threat is real. I am not one to be an alarmist. And I really dont [like] appearing like the little boy who cried wolf. We need to keep our eyes on this, and our prayers focused for Gods will and intervention. There is precedent for Counties to take action against pregnancy centers on the East Coast.
  2. Join me on December 5th to speak to the Supervisors about the good work Pregnancy Care Clinic does in the community. The meeting begins at 9:00 a.m. Agenda H will happen in the beginning of the meeting. This is not to be disruptive, but to take this as an opportunity to share our message!
  3. Call in during the meeting to speak on Agenda H. Fill out the County Form here. Click the box toward the bottom of the form next to Non-Agenda Public Communication: Opportunity for members of the public to speak to the Board on any subject matter within the Boards jurisdiction but not an item on todays agenda.

[In his previous message, he also mentioned writing a letter and e-mailing it to PublicComment@sdcounty.ca.gov.]

As always, we trust in God to provide for and protect our ministry. Thank you for all your support and care!


Josh McClure

Pregnancy Care Clinic – Executive Director


[2] The author and his wife are now jesting that their new theme song for “The Van Locos” family (as they often refer to themselves) is from the 70s/80s TV program opening, “Eight is enough to fill our lives with love!”

[3] To listen to a sermon by the author revealing their son’s name to their church family looking at “Gaius” through the NT and especially in 3 John, visit https://www.sermonaudio.com/sermoninfo.asp?SID=92523215594190.

[4] Using a smartphone app and carefully following her otherwise clocklike ovulation calendar that apparently had unexpectedly kept shifting due to nursing.  As the father of eight children, the author can testify that normally this approach is most effective not only to postpone potential pregnancy but also to strategically pinpoint moments to conceive.  At the risk of seeming indiscrete, the month God put Gaius in his Mother’s womb was especially surprising because it was such a hectic time of traveling for a national speech and debate tournament and preaching for other churches hours away and graduations and preparing for a wedding for their eldest children that there was only one shot of it happening—even while they were ships passing in the night they were nearly always snoring in duet!

[5] Thankfully, at my wife’s next visit with her official and regularly assigned gynecologist, who earlier encouraged her to think carefully about ending her ability to conceive after the last baby as she may wish she could have more later, the doctor emboldened her at the end walking away with congratulations and counsel not to worry about all the busyness as this is her special window to have children and that she’ll never regret having any of them.  Amen.  Praise the Lord!  Frankly, considering her advice at the beginning of the year not to rush into electing permanent surgical birth control, we credit her in part for the conception and life of our new son.

[6] A sonogram is a printed image produced by an ultrasound machine.

[7] Thankfully, to their surprise, both mothers rejoiced at the news when they finally later got the nerve to share it.

[9] Pregnancy Care Clinic, Careline (Fall, 2023).  For more on the AB1720 and the related AB602 bill, visit PCC’s blog at https://www.supportpcc.com/stop-ab602-and-ab1720/

[10] *Olivia is not her real name.  CAPS Pregnancy Clinics, “A Day in the Life,” Fall Newsletter 23, no. 3 (Fall 2023): https://www.friendsofcaps.org/uploads/8/0/5/4/8054179/capsfa2023newsweb.pdf.

[11] Pregnancy Care Clinic, “A Life Changed,” in “Letting The Light In: The True Value of Pregnancy Care Clinic,” (2015): 12, https://www.supportpcc.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/11/letting-the-light-in.pdf.