(EFFINGHAM, IL) – For the fifth year in a row, HSHS St. Anthony’s Memorial Hospital and St. Anthony High School partnered on a program called “Window to the Womb” which allows high school students an opportunity to see the development of life while in the womb. All the high school students are either part of the Anatomy and Physiology class or the junior religion class at St. Anthony High School, which has recently been studying morality, especially issues of respect for the dignity of human life.
Four mothers in various stages of pregnancy volunteered to have ultrasounds that the students could observe. The students also had the opportunity to see and hold fetal models of babies at different gestational ages to help illustrate the development in the womb.
It was evident that the experience intrigued the students, as they asked the mothers and the ultrasound technologists a number of questions while viewing the ultrasound. The ultrasound technologists pointed out various body structures, tissues and organs on the ultrasound screen and let the students view the baby's beating heart.
Afterwards, some of the students expressed their amazement and gratitude for the experience. Charlotte Spraul shared, “[It was amazing] how vibrant the life was within the womb. It wasn’t simply a stoic life – the baby was constantly moving and stretching. It was truly evidence of a vibrant and special life from the moment of conception.”
“Seeing the formation of life in the womb is amazing and brings new light to life at conception,” said Kaitlyn Zeller.
The students also heard a presentation from Tami Shull, Executive Director of Family Life Center, a not-for-profit ministry in Effingham. Shull shared how the Family Life Center provides services to women, men and families experiencing pregnancy, parenting and related issues. She also spoke to the students about their potential role as “first responders” to someone experiencing a crisis pregnancy, as many young people in a crisis situation will first share with a friend rather than a parent, or other trusted adult. Studies reveal that a major reason a woman goes through with her abortion plan is because no one told her she had other options or encouraged her not to.
“I’m grateful that our students had this opportunity to see inside the womb,” said Father Michal Rosa, Pastor of Sacred Heart Church and Chaplain of St. Anthony High School. “Observing babies in utero enables us all to appreciate and better understand fetal development, behavior, and sensitivity. I want to thank HSHS St. Anthony’s Memorial Hospital for this amazing experience and for helping our students to truly see life inside the womb.”
Theresa Rutherford, HSHS St. Anthony’s Memorial Hospital’s President and CEO, shared why St. Anthony’s has partnered with St. Anthony’s High School for this project. “At St. Anthony’s, we believe each and every human life is a precious gift, from conception to natural death. We are fortunate to have the advanced technology that shows in great detail a baby’s development in the womb. By showing these students a precious little baby growing in the womb, it is obvious that this precious baby is alive and to be protected. We are doing our part to continue to foster respect for all life,” she said.
Photo Caption: Maureen Habing (foreground), HSHS St. Anthony’s Memorial Hospital Registered Ultrasound Technologist, shows students from St. Anthony High School the development of Liz Roepke’s 30-week baby through an ultrasound. Observing the ultrasound are (standing, left to right) Liz’s husband, Tom, and high school students Hunter Stephens, Nathan Schultz, Jacob Blanchette, Blake Niebrugge, and Will Niebrugge.