Nation’s largest student-run anti-abortion conference held at Georgetown
The Fifthteenth Annual Cardinal O’Connor Conference on Life, the nation’s largest student-run anti-abortion conference, began Monday at 8:00 a.m. in Healy Hall and concluded with the Mass for Life in Dahlgren Chapel later in the afternoon.
This conference precedes the March for Life rally that will take place Wednesday on the National Mall. It was named after John Cardinal O’Connor who was the late Archbishop of New York, founder of the religious community, the Sisters of Life, and notable Georgetown alumnus.
One of the major elements of the conference was an hour-long panel discussion titled Publicly Pro-Life: Why Abortion Is Not a Private Issue was held in Gaston Hall and featured four guest speakers on the topic. First to speak was Hadley Arkes, a professor of Political Science at Amherst College, on the moral implications of abortion. “What if your concern was for the pain of the child,” he said. “There is a real human being there suffering pain.”
Next was Christopher Tollefsen, a professor of Philosophy at the University of South Carolina who specializes in moral philosophy and practical ethics. “Does that human being, does it, or he or she, deserve the same fundamental form of moral protection?” he asked. “Each of us here should be immune from arbitrary forms of violence”.
Charmaine Yoest, the President and CEO of Americans United for Life, an organization that has been involved in every anti-abortion case before the United States Supreme Court since Roe v. Wade, focused mainly on the women’s perspective. “Listen very carefully to the feminists as they talk about abortion… Will you ever hear them engage on this question of what it means to be a human? They will do anything that they can to avoid engaging on that question,” she said. “As they have defined being a strong, successful woman of the century, they define it as being essentially rooted in abortion.”
Finally, Thomas Farr , the Director of the Religious Freedom Project at the Berkely Center for Religion, Peace, and World Affairs and visiting associate professor at Georgetown’s School of Foreign Service, spoke about the issue within the context of religious freedom. “The founders of this country did not intend the first amendment to remove religion from public life, precisely the opposite was true,” he said. “[It was] designed to invite religion into public life and protect it from the power of the state.”
Photo: Katherine Landau/Georgetown Voice
Editor’s Note: A previous version of this post used the phrase “pro-life,” which was changed to “anti-abortion.”