Youths get glimpse into pro-life center’s workings

Pam Gahanius, clinical director at the Women’s Choice Center in Bettendorf, shows a groups of freshmen from Assumption High School in Davenport pictures from an ultrasound of a fetus at 13 weeks gestation.

By Anne Marie Amacher

Freshmen from Assumption High School in Davenport learned about life issues through a variety of projects during Catholic Schools Week.

They heard about immigration issues Jan. 26 from John Kiley, social action director for the Diocese of Davenport, and diocesan volunteers Loxi Hopkins and Glenn Leach.

The students learned about helping others through a donation selection process Jan. 27. The freshmen studied different campaigns of organizations that could use their donations. One place they chose to send money was Postville, to help those affected by last year’s immigration raid.

On Jan. 28, the foods classes prepared lunch for those in need who are served by Café on Vine in Davenport. Freshmen and sophomore student council members served the food at the café.


Assumption choir members sang for residents at The Kahl Home for the Aged and Infirm in Davenport on Jan. 29 while the band students played for senior citizens at the Center for Active Seniors Inc. (CASI).

On Jan. 30, freshmen gathered to celebrate Mass with the rest of their school and with students in grades three through eight from Scott County Catholic schools.

Another activity helped increase the freshmen’s awareness on the subject of life.

They visited the Women’s Choice Center, a pro-life facility in Bettendorf, located across the street from Planned Parenthood of Greater Iowa’s clinic.

Dan Huber, religion teacher and spiritual advisor at Assumption, along with Marianne Agnoli, religion and foods teacher, led the students in a project at the center.

Students were divided into small groups to write a prayer relating to life and service.

One prayer submitted read: “Dear God, we pray for all the lives that were lost and will be lost to abortion. We pray that you guide pregnant women and show them that abortion is not the only alternative. We pray that by our actions we can help stop abortions. We pray that people like us will come to support the cause at the Women’s Choice Center.”

Another group wrote: “Dear Lord, we pray for all the fathers of aborted babies and the babies’ mothers. We pray for the grandparents who won’t get to see their grandchildren. We pray for the doctors who perform the abortions and the people who help them, so they stop it. Amen.”

Also during their visit, the teens learned about the Helpers of God’s Precious Infants who pray outside the Planned Parenthood clinic throughout the week, but especially on Tuesdays when abortions often are performed.

The freshmen learned that seven to 15 unborn children are estimated to be aborted at the facility each week. “That’s staggering and sad,” one student said. “You hear about one abortion, but to learn it’s a lot more — each week — it’s sad,” said another.

“For a community this size that’s a lot,” another commented. “We don’t live in a big area.”

The groups also took a tour of the facility, led by its executive director, Vicki Tyler. She took the students into the reception area where volunteers staff the desk. She pointed out the video that shows a fetus growing in the womb and talked about services offered at the pro-life clinic.

She took them into an exam room with an ultrasound machine. There, Pam Gahanius, clinical director, showed ultrasound images of a fetus at 13 weeks gestation. The images were projected onto a flat screen hanging from the ceiling. She pointed out the head, fingers, spine and more. Tyler showed the lab where staffers perform pregnancy tests. And she took students into a counseling room. She passed around life-size models of fetuses as they appear during various weeks of pregnancy.

About her trip to the Women’s Choice Center, freshman Gina Meier said she was inspired by the Helpers who prayed outside Planned Parenthood in the cold and snowy weather. “On the bus ride back to school, I realized that even though abortion is horrible, I rarely think about what I can do about it. Those people (Helpers) have inspired me to start looking for ways to help.”

Regarding the average number of abortions at Planned Parenthood each week, freshman Steven Froeschle said the number was too many. “The number should be zero… That is like taking a class here at Assumption and wiping the students in it out of existence.

“I encourage other high school students to visit the Women’s Choice Center so that they can learn the truth behind abortion.”

Freshman Jake Powers said, “I found out that many people have abortions every Tuesday at Planned Parenthood. I think what they are doing at the Women’s Choice Center has saved many babies lives.

“My opinion on saving babies hasn’t changed. I still believe abortion is wrong, but now I want to help the center keep changing women’s minds about having an abortion.”

The students finished up their visit by praying at the center and then boarded the bus where they prayed once again for life.

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