HSHS St. Anthony’s Memorial Hospital and the Family Life Center recently partnered with St. Anthony High School on an annual event, “Window to the Womb,” which allows high school students an opportunity to see the development of life while in the womb.  

The program was held at the Family Life Center with ultrasound technologists from the center and HSHS St. Anthony’s. Three 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.  

All the high school students are part of the senior religion class at St. Anthony High School, which has recently been studying morality, especially issues of respect for the dignity of human life.  

As the students watched, 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.

Afterward, some of the students expressed their amazement and gratitude for the experience. Trista Sears shared, “The ultrasound really stuck with me. If I’m honest I’ve always been on the fence of when I believed a life started, but after seeing the ultrasound and hearing her say how early a heartbeat begins it really changed my perspective.”

Landon Adams was also touched by the experience. “Seeing that ultrasound still makes me tear up.  Life is a miracle.  It is crazy to me that abortion is even a thing,” he shared. “Seeing that baby move around at just 11 weeks old – that baby was alive. You could see all of its features.”

The students were given the opportunity to tour the Family Life Center and hear a presentation from Becky Rhodes, client services director and Mary Hovis, executive director of Family Life Center, a not-for-profit ministry in Effingham.  Hovis 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. 

“The biology of a human life in the womb is obvious through study, which can be done in a textbook, but it’s very impactful when we can connect that fact to a real experience,” said Greg Fearday, principal of St. Anthony High School.  “It’s very generous of the Family Life Center and HSHS St. Anthony’s Memorial Hospital to provide this experience for our students.”


Photo Caption: Jill Pankau, RDMS (center), ultrasound technologist from the Family Life Center and Maureen Habing, RT(R)(M), RDMS (right), registered ultrasound technologist from HSHS St. Anthony’s Memorial Hospital, team up to show students from St. Anthony High School the development of Maria Zumbahlen’s 19-week baby through an ultrasound. Observing the ultrasound are (left to right) Morgan Schuette and Leah Griffith (seated), St. Anthony High School students; Mike Janis, interim president and CEO, HSHS St. Anthony’s Memorial Hospital.

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