Respect life week encourages dialogue on pro-life issues
Maggie Eastland | Monday, October 19, 2020
Notre Dame Right to Life celebrated Respect Life Week Oct. 12-16 with a variety of events including a movie showing, video message from Dr. Alveda King and a pro-life question-and-answer session.
Respect life week is a recurring event the club hosts every year Mary Benz, senior and president of ND Right to Life, said. A similar weekly celebration, called You are Loved Week is usually organized for the spring semester.
Both of these week-long programs have a similar goal of “spreading awareness about the pro-life movement and educating students on campus about all that the movement encompasses,” Benz said.
She also noted that each week has a unique theme.
“This year the theme is life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness,” Benz said. “We’re trying to create a culture of dialogue for people across all spectrums where we can peacefully and lovingly discuss important topics surrounding life issues.”
Mary Biese, a junior and director of education for Right to Life, said in an email that the week is a unique way to hear new perspectives.
“It’s easy to just go to the March for Life every year. Respect Life Week provides new, coherent perspectives and is meant to encourage and enliven our resolve to fight for life not just in January, but every day for the year, through service, dialogue and prayer,” Biese said.
The week kicked off on Monday with an opening mass at the Basilica followed by a doughnut fellowship. On Tuesday, club members sported their right to life gear during the day, and a group gathered in the Carey Auditorium to view the movie “Divided Hearts of America.”
Biese called the movie a “well done overview of the situation of the abortion issue in America.”
The movie also featured an interview with Notre Dame’s own O. Carter Snead, a law professor and current director of the de Nicola Center for Ethics and Culture.
On Wednesday, Notre Dame students could join a Zoom video and discussion about the Moreau College Initiative, a program through which incarcerated individuals at the Westville Correctional Facility receive a liberal arts college education with the help of Holy Cross and Notre Dame professors.
The relatively new program began in 2013, and Alesha Seroczynski, director of college operations at Moreau College Initiative said in an email that it has grown from 15 students in four classes in 2013 to 75 students in 40 classes this last year.
“We have offered 80 unique, unduplicated classes over the past eight years. For the size of our college, that is an extremely robust education,” Seroczynski said.
This Zoom session marked the first collaboration between the Notre Dame Right to Life Club and the Moreau College Initiative, but Seroczynski said she would be willing to collaborate again in the future.
Seroczynski said the outreach is a life issue. Throughout the Zoom session, she talked about how education for those behind bars can lead to a renewed purpose and path in life.
“A lot of people who are invested in early life are not invested in end of life or later life,” Seroczynski said.
Her presentation strived to show the connection between the Moreau College Initiative outreach and respect for human life.
“Over 95% of all incarcerated persons in America will return to our communities. We should all be asking ourselves what kind of people — what kind of parents, brothers, sisters, sons, daughters, citizens — we want to return home after spending time in our penal system. I believe any learned member of the Holy Cross community would agree that a liberal arts education is life-giving, and has the ability to offer a better, and more holistic, life for our students than the one they might have known otherwise,” Seroczynski said in an email.
For those who wish to get involved, Seroczynski said the program is always looking for professors to help educate these individuals.
Thursday featured Dr. Alveda King, pro-life advocate and niece of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., who recorded a video for the students of Notre Dame. She shared her personal story, relaying how her mother almost aborted her when she was a fetus and how she herself had two abortions.
“My mother was pregnant. At that time in her community, there was an organization going around and passing out information to women, specifically Negro women,” Alveda said.
She said this organization was advocating for dilation and curettage, a gynecological procedure that can be used for abortion in the first trimester.
Alveda said Dr. Martin Luther King Sr. actually convinced her mother not to go through with the procedure.
According to Alveda, King Sr. told her mother, “That’s not a lump of flesh, that’s my granddaughter. I saw her in a dream three years ago. She has bright skin, bright eyes, and red hair.”
Alveda discussed the relationship between abortion and race.
“If we’re thinking about equity, racial harmony, racial reconciliation, aborting a baby is not going to bring that into existence,” she said. “…I believe in woman’s rights. I believe that a woman has a right to choose what she does with her body. The baby’s not her body. We must continually ask, where is the lawyer for baby? Abortion hurts women. Abortion sometimes kills women. Legal abortion kills women.”
The week concluded Friday with a pro-life board discussion and social in the LaFortune Ballroom. Students had the opportunity to engage with fellow students and Notre Dame professors, including political science professor Daniel Philpott and theology professor Father Kevin Grove.