The poster that saved a soul from the doc

28 Jan 2009

By The Record

Ultrasound image for poster influences young woman to reject abortion.

Two girls watch the proceedings during a Mass for young people at the Verizon Centre in Washington on January 22. More than 20,000 people attended the Mass, which followed a pro-life youth rally at the arena. The events were held in advance of the annual March for Life. Photo: CNS/Gregory A Shemitz

ST PAUL, Minnesota (CNS) – Bobbie Hallman was attempting to carry out a simple task – make a poster from an ultrasound image, and ended up saving the life of an unborn child.
The drama unfolded at a local print shop. She had agreed to make several posters for use in the Prayer Service for Life at the Cathedral of St Paul on January 22, which was the 36th anniversary of the US Supreme Court’s Roe v Wade decision legalising abortion.
About three weeks before the event, she brought in a handful of small ultrasound pictures that she received from the clinic where her husband, Dr Kevin Hallman, works in River Falls, Wisconsin.
She showed them to a woman working behind the shop’s counter and asked for help making the poster. As she would soon discover, the woman was struggling with an unplanned pregnancy.
“I could see her eyes well up with tears and she walked away,” said Bobbie Hallman, formerly of St Joseph Parish in West St Paul who now lives in River Falls with her husband and children. “The other lady (behind the counter) said, ‘Oh, you’ll have to forgive her. She’s 12 weeks along right now and she’s not sure if she’s going to keep the baby.’”
Just like that, Hallman was thrust to the front lines of the abortion debate. She chose not to try to talk the woman into keeping her baby.
Instead, she kept her focus on the poster. The woman eventually came back to the counter and the two continued looking at the ultrasound pictures Hallman had brought to pick some for the posters. One stood out – a picture of a fetus at 12 weeks.
“She said, ‘I think you have to use the 12-week one,’” Hallman said. “And, I said, ‘I think I do, too.’ And so, we worked it out and we blew it up (into a poster).”
In the meantime, people standing in line nearby began to look at the ultrasound pictures, too. Eventually, the pictures found their way back into the hands of the pregnant employee.
“She looked at them individually again and she said, ‘I can’t abort this baby,’” Hallman said. “She said, ‘I was thinking about aborting this baby. I thought it was just a tissue. And, look at this.’ She was pointing to the fingers and the eyes.”
Then, the woman began to cry and the print shop fell silent. In an unpredicted encounter, a frightened pregnant woman saw the truth about abortion and the truth about life.
“It was touching for me; it was a miracle for her,” Hallman said in an interview with The Catholic Spirit, newspaper of the Archdiocese of St Paul and Minneapolis.
“I remember once Mother Teresa said that she was nothing but a pencil in the hand of God,” she said. “And, sometimes, we forget that, I think – that we are his instruments and we have to listen and serve each other and help each other.”
Before she left the shop, Hallman gave the woman her husband’s telephone number and said he would be happy to give her a free ultrasound. She said she found out later that the woman did, in fact, come in for the free visit.
At the cathedral the prayer service drew a standing-room-only crowd, and in the sanctuary was the poster that persuaded the print-shop employee to not abort her baby, along with a second poster.
In his remarks Archbishop John C. Nienstedt of St Paul and Minneapolis had special words of thanks to the young people in attendance.
“You are the bright promise of a new day in this country,” he said. “God is shining on you. He wants you to stand up, he wants you to stand up and be counted. In a world full of abuses and injustices, it is my belief that none stand so in need of our attention and prayerful opposition as the grave evil of abortion.”
Hallman is an example of what Archbishop Nienstedt said pro-life people need to be.
“We must be willing to be pro-life people 24/7, not just when we are about the important business of marching or protesting or lobbying,” he said. “I solemnly challenge you to be a generation of radical love, the seed from which a new people can be born.”
Hallman said she is hoping to see the woman from the print shop next year at the prayer service, along with her newborn child.
“I just think it’s an absolute miracle that this happened,” she said. “This picture saved a soul.”
-Dave Hrbek