Editor’s Note: The November issue of Columbia featured the story of 5-year-old Michael “Mikey” Schachle, whose healing in utero was attributed to the intercession of Blessed Michael McGivney. What the article did not say was that after their unborn son was diagnosed with a fatal condition in February 2015, Daniel and Michelle Schachle were counseled to have an abortion. Daniel, a Knights of Columbus general agent in Tennessee, spoke about his reaction to that advice during his testimony at a prayer vigil for priests on Oct. 30, 2020, the eve of Father McGivney’s beatification. Excerpts from his remarks are printed here.
When we were given the diagnosis of genetic abnormality-induced fetal hydrops, we were told by the doctor that we had only two options: 1) Terminate the unfortunate pregnancy now, or 2) Wait for him to die and have a stillbirth. Option 2 had the additional risk to the health of my wife, as she could develop a condition to mirror my son’s. The doctor told us it wouldn’t really be an abortion since there was no hope. She had been in the high-risk field for 30 years and had never heard of an unborn child surviving this condition.
We were devastated, as were our other children, with the diagnosis. I was also angry at the doctor for telling me it was OK to kill my child. Fathers are supposed to protect their children, not kill them. We are to lay aside status, money, influence, comfort and all other trappings to protect them physically and spiritually. I remember telling Michelle one day while she was crying, “I don’t know who the hell that doctor thinks she is, telling us there’s no hope.” However, my bride was much more charitable, telling me that the doctor was just worried about her.
The Schachles begged God for a miracle and began asking Father McGivney to intercede for their son. Soon after the diagnosis, they went on a Knights of Columbus pilgrimage to Fatima and Rome in March 2015.
Upon return to the U.S., we had another ultrasound. It was read by a different doctor who began to explain to Michelle about the team that would be working with our baby when he was born. Michelle stopped her and said, “Dr. Mary, what do you mean ‘when he is born’? I was told there was no hope?” When she heard this, the doctor flipped back in her chart and said, “Are you the one who just went to Fatima?” When Michelle said she was, the doctor told her, “Well, now you’re going to have a baby.” Michelle told her we were changing the name to Michael McGivney and why. The doctor was so happy, as her dad was a Knight! …
On the day I was scheduled to return [from a conference] May 15, Michelle had a routine ultrasound scheduled. I received a call that morning that they were going to do an emergency C-section. …
The original doctor came in and told Michelle that she never thought we’d be here. Michelle told her she was so happy to see her, and that she brought her a gift and had been waiting to give it to her. She said, “This Miraculous Medal and holy water are from Fatima.” The doctor began to cry, took off her necklace and put on the medal and said, “You don’t know how much this means to me.” I am told she keeps the “before” and “after” ultrasounds on her desk to this day to remind her there is no such thing as “no hope.”
THE ORDER’S ULTRASOUND INITIATIVE reached another milestone this past year, when Florida became the first K of C jurisdiction to donate 100 ultrasound machines to certified pregnancy resource centers. Leaders of the Florida State Council and University of Florida Council 13900 formally presented the 100th machine Oct. 15 to the Community Pregnancy Clinic in Gainesville, across the street from the university’s campus.
“The center had an older machine that wasn’t very robust,” explained Grand Knight Peter Nguyen, a fourth-year engineering student. “This one gives pregnant women the opportunity to see their unborn child — especially mothers who aren’t sure what to do.”
He added, “A university campus is a good place for an ultrasound machine. It gives the clinic a beautiful opportunity to change lives.”
According to Deacon Gary Ingold, CEO of Community Pregnancy Clinics, the centers have a “90% success rate” with ultrasounds and/or counseling — meaning that “a woman who is abortion-minded or vulnerable chooses life for her baby.”
Deacon Ingold, who is a member of St. William Council 10757 in Naples and a retired Navy pilot, further explained that ultrasound technology enhances the centers’ “mercy model,” which is based on Christlike compassion and gives women confidence regarding unplanned pregnancies.
“Today, with the advancements in technology, we are able to get a three-dimensional view that allows mothers to see the baby,” Deacon Ingold said. “The Knights follow that technology and saw the improvements.”
The Knights of Columbus Ultrasound Initiative is funded by state and local councils with matching grants from the Supreme Council’s Culture of Life Fund. Since the Order first launched the initiative in 2009, councils have placed more than 1,300 ultrasound machines — valued at more than $60 million — in certified pregnancy resource centers across the United States.
“Our Ultrasound Initiative is the greatest humanitarian achievement in the history of the Knights of Columbus,” Supreme Knight Carl Anderson noted in his annual report last August. “It is building the culture of life one heart and one child at a time.”
With ultrasound machines placed in all 50 states, the initiative surpassed 1,000 machines in January 2019, and it continues to grow rapidly. While Florida was the first jurisdiction to donate 100 machines, other jurisdictions, including California, will soon follow suit.
“It is something that Florida Knights have really gotten behind,” said State Deputy Scott O’Connor. “It brings people together for a cause we all support.”
Since the 100th unit was dedicated, he added, Florida councils have already purchased seven more machines — and counting.
TOM TRACY is a photojournalist who writes from West Palm Beach, Fla.
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