Why this picture makes people want to cry

Jesus’s resurrection, celebrated at Easter and throughout the year by Christians, brings the promise of new life for all who put their trust in him.

This young girl knows the meaning of life better than most of us ever will; she has cheated death, thanks to the courage of one 70-year-old granny.

The original HEART article
The original HEART article

On the face of it, 13-year-old Ruby Ray Armstrong is simply snuggling up to a lady who could be her great-granny.

But for those who know the background to the picture, its poignancy is almost unbearable.

For Ruby would not be alive today, enjoying sports and going out with friends, but for Judy Law, a Christian mother and grandmother. It was Judy’s act of giving a little card to Ruby’s parents outside an abortion clinic that changed their minds and made them decide to keep their baby.

And now Ruby has finally had her wish granted, of meeting “the lady who saved my life”.

It wasn’t a blob of cells as we’d been told; our eight-week-old baby had a heartbeat and tiny hands and feet”

Fourteen years ago Judy,who lives in East Sussex, fought weariness to go out in the cold and join friends in a prayer vigil outside their local abortion clinic.

As a young couple approached, Judy shyly handed them a small card that showed an aborted foetus. Whereas pro-life activists have been accused of intimidating parents-to-be who are seeking to abort their babies, Judy was trembling with fear, but the girl took the card.

Once inside, the picture of the dead baby on the card changed the girl’s mind: “It wasn’t a blob of cells as we’d been told; the picture showed our eight-week-old baby had a heartbeat and tiny hands and feet.”

At the last minute, waiting to be operated on, Ruby’s mother decided to keep her baby.

Ruby is celebrated by pro-life campaigners, who find themselves on the wrong side of the law when they pray outside abortion clinics that have ‘buffer zones’ – legal exclusion zones to prevent those seeking abortion from changing their minds. Three Christians have been arrested for praying outside clinics in the past year; one, Stephen Green, is currently fighting a court case for holding up a placard near an abortion clinic (see p7-8).

Campaigner Andrew Stephenson, founder of the Centre for Bio-ethical Reform UK, asserts that Ruby’s story motivates him to persevere.

When we see that beautiful photograph, how can we not be moved to tears?” he asks.

Ruby Ray Armstrong owes her life to Judy Law, whose courage saved Ruby’s life (caption for featured image)

The baby who got away

Baby Ruby
Baby Ruby more of a miracle than most realised

Stephenson and the team at CBR UK have faced sharp criticism for their public display of large banners depicting babies before and after abortion.

“How many more parents would have chosen to keep their baby had they seen the truth? How many have we missed?” he adds. “We know that every time one of our regional teams uses these images in public, minds are changed and lives are potentially saved as a result.”

“I can’t go through with this”

Ruby with Joanna her paternal grandmother
Growing up Ruby was treasured by her family. Here she is with Joanna her paternal grandmother

Ruby could have been one of the 200,000 unwanted babies aborted that year and is probably one of a handful of babies who have escaped the 10 million toll of babies legally aborted in Britain since the 1967 Abortion Act.

It could have been so different. Ruby’s parents, Richard and Tara, were a typical young couple whose relationship was a few months old. Tara, her mother, didn’t feel ready to have a baby. Her boyfriend Richard, who knew his Christian mother would be against their decision, was reluctant, but accompanied his pretty blonde girlfriend to the clinic.

Once inside, Tara had to change into a hospital gown, ready to be operated on, but while awaiting her turn, the photo of the tiny aborted foetus’s eyes stayed on her mind; she realised that this was not a “blob of cells”, but a tiny human.

She told Richard, “I can’t go through with this.” Richard’s response was immediate: “Get dressed and let’s go.”

Despite the cold, Judy was still there when Richard and Tara came out of the clinic again, so they could tell her of their decision. Judy was thrilled; she had made herself go out on a cold day and now a baby had been saved.

As soon as Ruby’s grandmother, Joanna Thomas, heard that a stranger had saved her grandchild, she made a point of contacting Judy to thank her, and Judy was able to meet Ruby’s parents before the birth and hold Ruby when she was born in January 2011.

While Ruby’s parents got married, they are no longer together, but have had great support from both sides of the family. Joanna Thomas, Ruby’s grandmother, says: “Tara is a devoted mother and Ruby is her only child.”

School photo of Ruby at age ten
School photo of Ruby at age ten

The baby who got away is now a sporty teenager

Ruby with a favourite doll, age six
Ruby with a favourite doll, age six

Ruby lives with her mother, Tara, in West Sussex and is in Year 8 at school, where she loves sport. She has a dog and “lots of” cats, according to Joanna, her father’s mother. Ruby is also very artistic and has a keen eye for style. Like many teens, she loves shopping and goes to Brighton with her friends.

Ruby would leave people open-mouthed when she told them she was nearly sucked out of her mummy’s tummy

Ruby at age eight
Ruby at age eight; she always knew her birth was a miracle

Tara says she hasn’t for a moment ever regretted having her daughter and couldn’t imagine life without her. Tara was always open with Ruby, so from a young age, Ruby would leave people open-mouthed when she told them that she was going to be “sucked out of Mummy’s tummy, but a kind lady stopped her”.

“The kind lady”, Judy Law, was delighted to meet Ruby in person recently. Judy, who will be 84 in April, told HEART, “It was a happy day when I met Ruby. I was full of emotion and just wanted to cry”.

“I was full of emotion and just wanted to cry”

Ruby will never know exactly why she was saved out of the millions of babies who did not survive, but if she had not had a grandmother who regularly prayed for her handsome son (and hoped to have grandchildren), the ending would probably have been very different.

Help for mothers

Pauline Peachey
Pauline Peachey helps mothers bereaved by abortion

Losing a child is never easy, but women who have undergone an abortion are not officially supposed to mourn, and it is not an easy subject to bring up. Men can also be affected. Confidential help is available from several Christian ministries. One is PASE – Post Abortion Support for Everyone, a project of the Centre for Bio-ethical Reform UK (CBR UK). PASE runs a Christ-centred recovery course, by mothers bereaved by abortion, for mothers bereaved by abortion.


Course leader Pauline Peachey, who was herself bereaved by abortion, can be contacted at pauline@postabortsupport.org.uk

Support for churches

HOPE Pregnancy, another project of CBR UK, helps churches offer Gospel-centred pregnancy support, with a one-hour training session called ‘Kindness and truth – how to talk with someone considering an abortion’ and a three-day training course for churches to equip them to offer a ministry in this sensitive area.

HOPE Pregnancy also has a website offering online support to women: hopepregnancy.org.uk

Abortion up to birth is delayed

A radical proposal that would legalise abortion until birth will not be voted on in Parliament until after Easter.

Dame Diana Johnson MP has put forward an amendment to decriminalise abortion as part of the Criminal Justice Bill, along with amendments seeking to ban ‘conversion therapy’, a controversial practice which has been conflated with prayer offered by Christians to those struggling with unwanted same-sex attraction.

Abortion is currently legal up to 24 weeks, but decriminalising it could see abortion taking place up to birth.

Caroline Ansell MP
Caroline Ansell MP is pro-life

In the UK, the unborn baby is only protected under law so long as he or she can survive outside the womb. Under the 1967 Abortion Act, ‘foetal viability’ was set at 28 weeks, but was reduced to 24 weeks in 1990. Medical advances have meant premature babies can now survive from 22 weeks, with 2 in 3 suffering no serious disability, according to a 2019 report.

A political insider suggested the Government’s decision to delay the Bill could be the result of strong backbencher resistance to these amendments which have caused the government a significant “headache”.

Caroline Ansell, the MP for Eastbourne, is among a cross-party group of MPs who have proposed reducing the abortion time limit to 22 weeks, and a petition by Right to Life to reduce the abortion time limit had reached nearly 100,000 signatures as this paper went to press.

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