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Right to Life club hosts collegiate conference

Aaron Steiner | Monday, April 16, 2007

Students from Notre Dame, Saint Mary’s, Holy Cross and a host of other colleges convened at Notre Dame this weekend for the second annual Pro-Life Collegiate Conference, hosted by the Notre Dame Right to Life club.

Starting on Friday, nationally recognized speakers spoke about “various issues dealing with life from conception to natural death” at venues across campus, said club president Mary Liz Walter, a junior.

Walter said the conference – focused on the theme “I came that they might have life” – is the second of four planned conferences targeted at college students. Each conference centers around one of four points of Pope John Paul II’s encyclical “Evangelium Vitae.”

“The response was extremely, overwhelmingly positive,” Walter said. “The speakers gave many [students] insights that they hadn’t thought of.”

Students from Midwestern colleges including Purdue, Loyola (Chicago) and DePaul traveled to campus to join the strong contingent of pro-life students from Notre Dame, Saint Mary’s and Holy Cross. Walter said attendance from students outside the area was greatly improved this year with and overall attendance throughout the weekend was strong.

The event’s first speaker, Father Tom Euteneuer, was a favorite, Walter said. Euteneuer, a Notre Dame alumnus and current president of Human Life International, recently gained attention after appearing on radio personality Sean Hannity’s conservative talk show. Walter said he was well received by all in attendance.

Another speaker, Daniel McConchie, executive director of Americans United for Life, posed interesting questions about the legalities of abortion, Walter said. He told the audience that the pro-life movement would have significant challenges ahead of it even if there was an overturning Roe v. Wade, the 1973 Supreme Court case that struck down state laws criminalizing abortion. He said the challenge then would be to force all 50 states to pass laws outlawing abortion.

Other speakers included a representative of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, the director of Students For Life of Americas and a local oncologist who spoke to the bioethical issues.

“Bella,” a movie about the issues facing a fictional single woman who becomes pregnant, was also screened Saturday evening.

Walter said it is extremely important for Notre Dame to host such a conference as many other colleges see Notre Dame as leader in pro-life issues.

“I had some friends from Franciscan University passing through the area this weekend on their way to another event,” Walter said. “They couldn’t stay but said, ‘We wish we could – we’re so proud that Notre Dame is doing this, because Notre Dame is a great Catholic university.'”

Walter said that as a whole, the conference gave participants a stimulating look at pro-life issues and gave audiences new thoughts and perspectives. It was important to bring in these new points of view, especially to Notre Dame, she said.

“We don’t know everything,” Walter said.

Walter said ideas are already being tossed around about next year’s conference, focused on the third part of the encyclical, “Thou shalt not kill.”

Notre Dame Right to Life has over 100 dues-paying members, Walter said, and organizes numerous pro-life initiatives throughout the year.