Is it a baby, or just a clump of cells? One look at an unborn child via ultrasound — seeing the tiny heart beating, even as early as six-weeks gestation — provides a clear-cut answer to that question.
That’s the beauty of What is This? Looking at Life in the Womb, a new curriculum-and-video resource from LCMS Life Ministry that’s intended to bring ultrasound technology into middle- and high-school classrooms to highlight the sanctity of human life.Order via email
Within a week after a July 8 LCMS e-blast introduced the free resource to Synod congregations and church workers, Life Ministry already had received 330 orders, according to Tracy Quaethem, project coordinator for LCMS Life and Health Ministries.
“Obviously, there was a need,” Quaethem told Reporter. “And we’re very thankful that we can fill it.”
With accompanying student and teacher booklets to guide discussions, What is This? Looking at Life in the Womb includes six modules:
- “What Does Human Development Say?”
- “What Does the Ultrasound Say?”
- “What Does Scientific Reasoning Say?”
- “What Does History Say?”
- “What Does the Word of God Say?”
- “What Do You Say?”
Only one of those modules — “What Does the Word of God Say?” — is “specifically religious,” so the rest of the curriculum can even be used in public-school settings, notes Quaethem.
“The science behind the ultrasound speaks for itself,” she explained. “It’s very clear that, even at the earliest stages, this is a baby, a human baby, and it deserves our protection and our defense.”
Quaethem said the curriculum “meets state and national teaching standards, so it’s easy for teachers to use in the classroom.” It’s also “ideal,” she said, for congregational settings such as confirmation and teen groups.
The related eight-and-a-half-minute video, “Looking at Life in the Womb,” focuses on today’s “accurate, reliable” ultrasound technology. Viewers see actual ultrasounds of an unborn child videotaped on location at ThriVe St. Louis, a pregnancy-resource center, and learn about prenatal development — from the first three-month trimester (seeing the heartbeat and movements of the arms and legs), to the second trimester (seeing facial features, eyes opening and closing), to the third trimester (seeing individual toes and fingers). It is “a very exciting progression of what we can see with ultrasound,” says Stephanie Neugebauer, lead ultrasonographer at ThriVe St. Louis, who leads viewers through the program.
“Doctors … are in agreement that life begins at conception,” Neugebauer says in the video. “And it’s not because of their religious views — it’s because of their scientific and medical training.”
She adds that she wishes “everyone knew how powerful a tool ultrasound technology is: It can truly change lives. It can transform hearts. It can change minds. It can save babies.”
Terry L. Schmidt, LCMS director of Schools, called the new resource “extremely valuable” because “it informs students attending our schools in a time when many have little value for life.”
“This resource will help our students value life as God’s gift from conception,” Schmidt said, and provide “a strong faith-based alternative to what is currently presented in public schools.”
Each LCMS elementary and high school that orders the free What is This? Looking at Life in the Womb curriculum and video will be eligible for a Lutherans For Life (LFL) presentation featuring a set of “fetal models” that show life-sized unborn babies at four gestational ages: 12 weeks, 20 weeks, 26 weeks and 30 weeks. The schools may keep the models, which are provided by LFL through its “Owen’s Mission” project. LFL is a pan-Lutheran, pro-life organization based in Nevada, Iowa.
For more information or to order What is This? Looking at Life in the Womb, send an email to Tracy Quaethem at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Posted July 15, 2015 / Updated Aug. 17, 2015
Editor’s note: The first version of this story reported that the set of fetal models would be sent to each LCMS congregation and school that ordered the new video resource. That was inaccurate. Only LCMS schools may receive the fetal models, and only through a presentation given by Lutherans For Life.