Last fall, Stephanie Monegro flipped through yellow pages, looking to get an abortion. A high-school dropout, the 17-year-old New Yorker was two months pregnant and already the mother of a three-year-old boy.

Seeing an ad for Expectant Mother Care, she went to the crisis pregnancy center (CPC) and asked about an abortion. Counselor Linda Susan Marzulla said the center did not provide abortions, but asked Monegro if she wanted to have a sonogram taken of her embryonic sac.

"[Marzulla] asked why I would want to kill my baby," Monegro told Christianity Today. "She said I would always regret it. [Then] I saw my first sonogram of the baby, and I burst into tears. I thought: Why would I want to kill something that's living?"

More pregnant women are asking that same question. Crisis pregnancy centers nationwide have discovered that performing sonograms early in pregnancy influences many pregnant women to change their minds about abortion. Ultrasound technology uses sound waves to create a sonogram, an electronic picture of a developing baby.

In 2000, 67 percent of 4 million pregnant women underwent an ultrasound exam, according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). Researchers say medical professionals typically administer those exams after the 15th week of pregnancy to assess the development and physical well-being of the child. Almost 90 percent of the abortions performed annually in the United States occur in the first 13 weeks of pregnancy, before most physicians would take a sonogram.

About 341 CPCs nationwide offer sonograms, according to Heartbeat International, a Columbus, Ohio-based nonprofit. Three years ago, there were fewer than 170 centers offering sonograms. There are 1,800 CPCs and 2,000 abortion clinics across the ...

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