2014 Cardinal O’Connor Conference Keynote

2014 Cardinal O’Connor Conference Keynote

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(bell tolls) – My name is Chris Cannataro, and I am the Grand Knight of Georgetown Knights of
Columbus, Council 6375. I hope you enjoyed your lunch, the variety of information, and breakout sessions that you attended, and the conference sponsors that you met at the tables in the
first floor of Healy Hall. The principle goal of
the Knights of Columbus is to forage with the Supreme
Knight, Carl Anderson, called his 2008 best selling book, “A Civilization of Love.” A Hilltop of Love. Entailed in this idea is
building a culture of life. Today, I have the privilege to introduce the presenter of the
2014 Father Thomas King of the Society of Jesus Award
for Pro-life activities, Father Jonathan Kalisch. A Dominican priest,
Father Kalisch graduated Georgetown College in 1994 and
was the fourth grand knight of the Georgetown University Council. He in addition was a server on Sundays for Father Thomas King’s
famous 11:15 masses. He currently serves as the director of Chaplins and Spiritual Development for the Knights of Columbus and founded college councils at Dartmouth, George Washington and
Quinnipiac Universities. Please join me in welcoming
this true embodiment of a Hilltop of Love, Father Jon Kalisch. (audience applause) – Just wanted to take a moment. 20 years ago when I was a senior, there’s no way we would’ve even dreamed of filling Gaston Hall for
a pro-life conference. And so just a huge thank you to all the student organizers here. (Jon claps) The 15th year here of our conference. You know, I don’t know
that Cardinal Bergoglio ever met Father Thomas
King, but they might have. But I happen to think when Pope Francis said this to priests back in March. He said, “Priests should be shepherds “living with the smell
or the odor of the sheep. “Shepherds in the midst of their flock “fishers of men.” For someone who knew Father
King, that’s what he was. You know, he lived for many years on Copley Hall and it was famous. He would be there from about midnight on. You could knock on his
door and he had the odor of first floor Copley right there. And he was clearly a fisher of men, one who embodied the
greatness of this university. And I’m here just to speak for a moment just about Father King, who I
knew who I met as a freshman on a bus for the Agape Retreat. As Chris said, I used to
serve his last chance mass. We had freezes breeze, which
was the 10 o’clock mass and 11:15 was the last chance
mass here at Georgetown and for everywhere else in the district. And people would come and you
would come to the 11:15pm mass because it was your last chance, and you would return the week later because you heard the best
homily you had ever heard and you wanted to hear again and again and at the end of each semester, Father King would actually
make cassettes of his homilies and sell them for a dollar. And people, you would line up to buy those and they’re actually still
on YouTube, some of them. So you can, you do have a
chance to go back and listen to what Pope Francis referred
to as, “the oil of gladness.” That truly flowed from Father King and from all good priests and Father King would meticulously prepare his homily before handing the sacristy. He’d be going over the notes before class but he always came out without the notes and he always preached from the heart. And to know Father King was to know a man who was shrouded in the divine mystery. He had this radiant look. He always to me looked
like he was at least 70. He had that face that perhaps Moses did when he came out from the Tavernacle. He looked like had best
been in conversation with the Almighty. I daresay, he was the
high priest of Georgetown during those days and
he supported everything that was Catholic. The Hoya you know in 1999 declared Father King man of the century. A man of the century, the last century. And he was always there to intercede for Swift Pa-tol-mich’s lovely daughter. He never minced words. He always actually called evil, evil. I’ve heard the most challenging
homilies on sexual ethics and morality came at
those last chance masses and move many hearts. He was a Jesuit who’s
devoted son of Saint Ignatius and of the blessed mother. He loved the church and was
always one with the Popes. You know in the 1980s, he
inspired recent graduates of Georgetown to found the
Northwest Pregnancy Center. He was one of the founding
members of the GU Right to Life along with Father Robert Spitzer and he was their long
time faculty advisor. He was always the meeting
point at Healy Gates at noon on the day of the March For Life and he would always be
there on the platform with Nelly Gray, often leading the prayer before the actual march
or giving a few remarks to all those gathered. But I wanna talk for a
moment about the journal, the University Faculty
For Life and I can attest to being there in his office
late spring, early summer where he would be fretting
about the submissions. When were they coming in? Who was going to edit them? It was gonna be he. Who was going to actually
put this together? A man, who was not really
prone to use the computer. He would, on his own computer,
put together that journal and then the newsletter
that would come out, he would actually hand
draw the little cartoons that would appear in the issues, University Faculty For Life. Again, you can find
his homilies on YouTube and one of them I was
listening to last night. He says this, he says, “I am presenting to you the good news.” This after giving the Church’s demanding, challenging
teaching on sexual ethics. He said, “The church and the
gospel calls us to be heroes. “We are made for love. “Sometimes we have to make sacrifices “and yet the words I
preach are good news.” And it was that that
radiated with so many of us who maybe found those words
challenging but also inspiring and also a summons to
also lay down our lives. Father King would be proud to honor the university who is the
recipient of the award in his honor this year. It’s actually several of his close friends were on the faculty at one time or other teaching there and stationed there. This university Pro-Life group last year sponsored speakers to
speak about the importance of the Pro-Life cause, gave
witness to their friends through the Cemetery of the Innocence, held various movies to show the pro-life stance, engaged in fundraising for a
variety of pro-life charities including having a pro-life cupcake day where they gave away
free, pro-life cupcakes with the tagline, “Everyone
deserves a birthday.” In their application, this college
said that they would use the award money for the
expenses for the March For Life for next year to bring more students from their campus here. And toward developing
more innovative material to use on campus to make a compassionate and informative difference
on their campus. And so I’d like to
invite the members of the Marquette University pro-life group to come forward and receive the 2014 Thomas King Award. (audience applause) (cheering) I just have to say, I hope
the Hoyas win tonight. – Father Kalisch is
significantly taller than I am. Thank you Father Kalisch for
that beautiful presentation. Congratulations Marquette,
although I also hope that you do not win tonight, no offense. It is now my very great honor to introduce today’s keynote speaker. Many of you have traveled
quite a ways to come hear our speaker so, I hope
you’re all very excited for a wonderful afternoon. Robert P. George holds Princeton’s celebrated McCormick
chair in jurisprudence and is the founding director
of the James Madison program. He has served on the president’s
council on bio-ethics and is a presidential appointee to the United States
Commission on Civil Rights. He has also served on
UNESCO’s world commission on the ethics of science and technology of which he continues to
be a corresponding member. He’s a former judicial fellow at the Supreme Court of the United States, where he received the
Justice Tom C. Clarke award. He is the author of, “In
Defense of Natural Law: “Making Men Moral, Civil
Liberties and Public Morality” and “The Clash of Orthodoxies: “Law, Religion and Morality in Crisis.” And co-author of, “Embryo:
A Defense of Human Life “Body, Self-dualism and
Contemporary Ethics in Politics.” And, “What is Marriage:
Men and Woman a Defense.” His scholarly articles
and reviews have appeared in such journals as
the Harvard Law Review, the Yale Law Journal,
the Columbia Law Review, The American Journal of Jurisprudence and the Review of Politics. Professor George is a recipient
of many honors and awards including the Presidential
Citizen’s Medal, the Honorific Medal for
the Defense of Human Rights of the Republic of Poland, the Canterbury Medal of the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, The Sidney Hook Memorial Award of the National Association of scholars, The Phillip Merrill Award
of the American Council of Trustees and Alumni and the Bradley Prize for Intellectual and Civic Achievement and the Stanley Kelly Jr. Teaching Award from Prince’s department of Politics. He was the 2007 John Dewey Lecturer in the philosophy of lot, Harvard. The 2008 Judge Guido Calabresi lecturer in law and religion at Yale. The 2008 Sir Malcolm Knox
lecture in philosophy at the University of St. Andrews. And the 2010 Frank Irvine lecturer in Law at Cornell university. He is a member of the
Council on Foreign Relations and holds honorary doctorates
of law, ethics, science, letters, civil law, humane letters and juridical science. A graduate of Swarthmore
College and Harvard Law School, he has also received a Masters degree in theology from Harvard and a Doctorate in Philosophy of Law from Oxford University. Please join me in warmly
greeting our keynoted speaker, Professor Robert P. George. (audience applause) – Thank you so much. Fellow abolitionists. Governor Andrew Cuomo says pro-life people are not welcomed in the state of New York. I say let’s invade, what do ya say? Shall we do that? Let’s show ’em. I’m delighted to be
here and I’m so grateful to all of you for coming out. This is a very, very important conference addressing an extremely important issue one to which I have myself dedicated much of my professional and personal life. Our struggle began now
many, many years ago. There were moments in the struggle when to all appearances, all was lost. And now I look out and I see these faces of… 19, 20, 21 year old men and women filled with enthusiasm and
dedication to this cause. Filled with the love that motivates us to act on behalf of the unborn child. On behalf of the mother in need. On behalf of the society
that desperately needs to learn the message of love
that this movement generates. And I’m just so grateful, grateful to God above all to see this. Our movement is not going away and you guys are gonna be our leaders. Now having said that, I can’t help but also pay tribute here to the people who’ve been the
stalwarts of the struggle. To the people who were in the fight when the fighting was even
tougher than it is now. Some of them are indeed here. Some have been my own heroes and mentors and I want to especially
take this opportunity to say how grateful I am to Sister Hannah Claus, Rabbi David Novak and Professor Hadley Arkes, the heroes of the pro-life movement. (audience applause) And there are those who have gone before who are not now with us
here in person on earth but who are smiling down on us. And chief among them in my mind is the great hero of the pro-life movement who told us shortly before he died that we must never tire,
we must never faulter. We must never give up
and I speak of course of the great Father Richard John Newhouse. His spirit is in this
room here with us today and it will be with me
until I draw my last breath. A breath I hope will be
speaking the words, pro-life. So, I want to talk with you
today a bit about abortion and the attacks on conscience. Over the past few years,
we’ve become all too aware of the threats to conscience
in various domains, especially those having to do with issues pertaining to the sanctity of human life, to sexual morality,
marriage and the family. These specific threats
reflect and manifest attitudes and ideologies that are
now deeply entrenched in the intellectual world
and in the elite sector of the culture more generally. And I daresay with the greatest regret they’re entrenched even at our Catholic and some of our other
Christian institutions. And that’s gotta be given a
high priority, fighting that. I don’t know if there’s
a word dis-entrenching but let me invent it if there’s not. We’ve gotta dis-entrench
these types of attitudes in our colleges and universities. And that by the way is why I
salute my friend Manny Miranda and others who are working
to call universities like Georgetown to fidelity to their Catholic mission. And this needs to happen
at Catholic institutions, Evangelical institutions,
Christian institutions and other institutions around the country. President Obama and Secretary of Health and Human Services Sebelius
and many, many other state and federal officials
are advancing and supporting policies trampling conscience rights such as the notorious Department of Health and Human Services contraception
and abortion drug mandate. And they do it because
they have deeply absorbed me generation dogmas that make nonsense of the very idea of conscience rights. Secretary Sebelius and
her closes collaborators, especially in the Planned
Parenthood Federation of America, insist that opponents of the HHS Mandate oppose both women’s
health and science itself. You’ve all heard that claim. I find it richly ironic. Over the past two or three
years, neither the HHS nor the white house has
responded substantively to the flood of evidence
submitted by experts demonstrating the lack
of scientific support for the medical or the
demographic or the economic claims associated with the HHS mandates. This practice, refusing to grapple with the relevant evidence, while using the mantle of science to silence or marginalize
objectors is commonly used by enemies of conscience. Today I wanna analyze
an important pre-cursor to the current incarnations
of this practice. A report that was issued in 2008 while I was serving on the President’s council on bio-ethics
by the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. A report recommending denying meaningful conscience protections to medical professionals, doctors, nurses, other healthcare workers, on the grounds of a non-scientific
ideologically dictated preference for widely available abortion. It was on September
11th, as it happens, 2008 that the President’s
council heard testimony by Dr. Ann Li-er-ly who was chairing the Committee of Ethics,
the committee on ethics of the American College of
Obstetrics and Gynecology, ACOG. Dr. Li-er-ly appeared in
connection with our council’s review of her committee’s
opinion entitled, “Limits of Conscientious Refusal
in Reproductive Medicine.” You got that? Limits of conscientious refusal
in reproductive medicine. That opinion proposed that
physicians in the field of women’s health be required as a matter of ethical duty to refer patients for
abortion and sometimes in so-called emergency situations, that is when there was not
another abortionist available to do the act, even to
perform abortions themselves. I found the ACOG Ethics
Committee’s opinions shocking and indeed frightening not only in its lack of regard, bordering on contempt really for the sincere claims of
conscience of Catholic, Evangelical Protestant, Orthodox Jewish and other pro-life physicians
and healthcare workers, but also in its treatment
of deliberate feticide. The deliberate destruction
of the child in the womb as if it were a matter of healthcare rather than what it typically is. Namely, a decision based on
non-medical considerations such as whether a woman or
her husband or boyfriend happens to want a child. On the understanding of
medicine implicit in the report, the ends of medicine are
fundamentally not about the preservation and restoration of health considered as an objective reality and human good, being healthy. But rather concern
satisfying the preferences or lifestyle desires of
people who come to physicians requesting surgeries or other services quite irrespective of
whether these services are in any meaningful
sense, medically indicated. I urge to you, I urge you I urge especially you young people, to just blow the whistle
on the representation the misrepresentation
of the abortion license as a women’s health issue, or a reproductive health issue. How often have you heard that? And when you’ve heard it,
how often have you heard it go unchallenged, even by pro-life people? Yet is it, I speak here using the technical language, ridiculous. It’s not about healthcare
at all in the ordinary case. Let’s say a woman conceives a child and is unhappy about it. Is she sick? Does she need an abortion
for the sake of her health? Not on any reasonable understanding
or definition of health. Even if we mean mental health. Pregnancy is not a disease,
it’s a natural process. In the normal case, a
pregnant woman is not sick. Now sometimes pregnancies
cause health complications. But in the normal case, they don’t. Nor in the overwhelming majority of cases does pregnancy pose any kind of threat to a woman’s life, much less her health. Now this is clear enough
but to make it still clearer let’s imagine that a woman
who is initially unhappy to be pregnant changes her mind. On reflection or over a bit of time, she’s content to be pregnant and happy to have a baby on the way. Now did she suddenly shift from being sick and in need of healthcare in the form of an abortion to being well? Did she get well when her mind changed about whether she wanted the baby? Well now let’s consider
a couple of months later she changes her mind again. It turns out let’s say
that the ultrasound shows that the baby is a girl and her husband or
boyfriend really wants boy. So she’s once again
unhappy about the pregnancy and she reverts to wanting an abortion. Did knowledge of the baby’s sex transform her from being
a healthy pregnant woman to being sick? The question answers itself. Now let’s consider the
ACOG committee report. What jumped off the page
at me when I first read it is that it’s an exercise
in moral philosophy, bad moral philosophy but
lay that aside for now. It was an exercise in moral
philosophy, not medicine. And this was not the American
College of Philosophers and political theorists
submitting this ethics report. It was the American College
of Obstetrics and Gynecology. They’re in the business of medicine. If they have authority to speak, it’s authority to speak about medicine. So what are we doing with
a report that’s about philosophy and politics? The report proposed the
definition of conscience, something that of course
cannot be supplied by medicine or science. I mean if you have a
question here at Georgetown about what does conscience mean? What’s the meaning of conscience? What does it mean to have a conscience? Would you go to the medical school and ask a cardiologist? I think you’d probably do better to ask somebody in the
philosophy department. And they’d have more
time to spend with you. (audience laughs) Well this report proposes
a definition of conscience and then proposes to instruct
its readers on and I quote, “The limits of conscientious refusals “describing how claims of
conscience should be weighed.” Should be weighed, “in the
context of other values “critical to the ethical
provision of healthcare.” Unquote, you got that? Well again, knowledge of
these limits and values as well as knowledge of what should count as the ethical provision of healthcare. All that stuff that was in
that sentence I just quoted are not and cannot possibly be the product of scientific inquiry or medicine as such. The proposed instruction
offered by those responsible for the ACOG committee report
represent a philosophical and ethical opinion. Their philosophical and ethical opinion. Which I’m glad to have. I welcome anybody’s opinion. I wanna hear what people have to say. But please don’t pretend
that your authority as an expert on medicine and science enables you to speak with authority about the meaning of values, ethical provision of healthcare, conscience, limits and
all that other stuff. The report went on to outline
options for public policy as they called them and to propose, and I quote again,
“recommendations that maximize “accommodation of the
individual’s religious “and moral beliefs while avoiding “imposition of these beliefs on others “or interfering with the safe, timely “and financially feasible access
to reproductive healthcare “that all women deserve.” Yet again, notice that every concept in play here the putative balancing, the
judgment as to what constitutes an imposition of personal
beliefs on others, the view of what constitutes healthcare or reproductive healthcare, the judgment about what is deserved. Those are all philosophical,
not scientific. We’re strictly speaking
medical judgements. To the extent that they can be
regarded as medical judgments even loosely speaking,
even at a big stretch, they reflect a concept of medicine. Informed, structured and shaped by philosophical judgements. Bad ones by the way, such
as the implicit judgment that pregnancy, when unwanted,
is in effect a disease. Those responsible for the
report purport to be speaking as physicians and medical professionals. The special authority the
report is supposed to have derives from their standing and expertise as physicians and medical professionals. That’s why we’re supposed
to listen to them. Yet at every point that matters, the judgements offered
reflect their philosophical, ethical and political judgments, not any expertise they have
by virtue of their training and experience in science or in medicine. Well at the meeting of
the president’s council, the chairman, the great
Georgetown medical person Dr. Edmond Peligrino, asked
me to offer a formal comment on Dr. Li-er-ly’s presentation
of her committee’s report. And I was happy for the
opportunity to call her and her colleagues out
on their attempt to use their special authority as physicians to force fellow physicians
to practice medicine in accord with the
contestable and contested philosophical, ethical
and political judgements of the members of the committee
Dr. Li-er-lee chaired. And make no mistake about it again, at every key point, their judgements are contestable and contested. Indeed they are contested
by the very people on whose consciences they seek to impose. The people whom they would if their report were adopted and made binding, force into line with their philosophical and ethical judgements or drive out of their
fields of medical practice. They wanna put Catholic, Evangelical, Orthodox Jewish doctors who are in the women’s healthcare
field in this position. Either you refer for
abortions or be willing to perform abortions in certain cases or you are not welcome in this field. It’s like Cuomo’s, you are
not welcome in New York. Driving them out of their profession. Giving them a choice between
conscience and vocation. And in each of these
contests, a resolution one way or the other
simply cannot be determined or settled by scientific methods. Rather the debate is philosophical,
ethical and political. And once this comes to
light, what is evident is that the committee’s report represents a sheer power play. This is what you gotta see. It’s a sheer power play on behalf of pro-abortion individuals who
happen to have acquired power in their professional association. This is not about medicine,
it’s about ideology. It’s about politics and political power. Now lay aside for the
moment the question of who’s philosophical and
political judgements are right and who’s are wrong. My point so far has only
been that the report is laced with and dependent
upon at every turn philosophical and political judgments. I’ve not yet offered a
critique of those judgements though anyone who cares
to do so can find plenty of criticism of them in my
work or Rabbi Novak’s work or Professor Arkes’s work. But lay down aside for now too. The thing to see just here
is that the issues in dispute really are philosophical
and can only be resolved by philosophical reflection and debate not by science or methods
of scientific inquiry. The science and scientific inquiry bit is simply a screen that they put up so that you don’t see what’s
going on behind the screen which is an imposition of values. Theirs on the physicians who don’t want to be slapped into line. As I’ve observed, the committee report reflects and promotes a
particular moral view and vision and particular understandings
of health and medicine shaped in every contested dimension and in every dimension relevant to the report’s subject matter by that moral view and vision. The report, in other words,
in its driving assumptions, reasoning and conclusions
is not morally neutral. They wanna come out in the white coats and say, “We’re just
guys in the white coats. “We’re morally neutral,
we’re just telling you “what good medicine consists in.” It’s a fraud. The report and the imposition
that they would make if the report were
implemented on physicians, and nurses and other healthcare workers is shot through with a
moral and political vision of a certain type, one contested by people like you and me. Their report represents
a partisan position not a neutral one, a partisan position among the family of possible positions debated or adopted by people of good will in the medical profession
and in society generally. Indeed for me the
partisanship of the report is its most striking feature. And remember I’m just using this report to illustrate claims that
are made much more widely by the pro-abortion
side in the contemporary debate that you and I are engaged in. The report is just an especially good distillation of
the kinds of arguments that are made out there in
the culture, in the debate. The kinds of arguments that are made deploying terms like
reproductive healthcare and women’s health. The greatest irony of the report especially the greatest
irony of the report’s sustated worry about
physicians allegedly imposing their beliefs on patients by for example, declining to perform abortions
or be in that business or refer for abortions. That irony is that they themselves are
imposing their values on those physicians. There’s an imposition here to be sure but it should be pretty clear which way the imposition is going. The assumption of the
report of course is that an abortion, even an elective
abortion, is healthcare and that deliberately killing
babies in their mother’s wombs is morally acceptable
and even a woman’s right. A philosophical position. One that I think is really bad and indefensible intellectually
at the end of the day. But it’s philosophical, it’s not scientific it’s not medical. But lay that aside now too. The truth is that the physician who refuses to perform abortions, or the pharmacist who
would declines to dispense abortifacient drugs coerces no one. He or she simply refuses to participate in the destruction of human life, the life of the child in the womb. He’s not imposing anything on anyone. Just as a sport shop owner who refuses to stock hollow
point cop killer bullets even if he may legal sell them is not imposing anything on anyone. I mean, imagine this. Imagine that someone
goes into a sport shop and a conscientious sport shop owner simply refuses to sell these hollowed point cop killer bullets. Doesn’t wanna be supplying
those kinds of things. And the person who’s
seeking to buy them says, “Well wait a minute, what do
you mean you don’t sell them?” The guy says, “Well you know
I believe they’re misused. “I believe that they’re you know, “it’s unethical to sell them. “I don’t wanna be in that business.” And the guy who wants to buy them says, “Hey wait, you can’t do that. “You’re imposing your values on me.” Wouldn’t buy that, would we? We shouldn’t buy this. By contrast, those
responsible for the report and its recommendations
evidently would use coercion to force physicians,
pharmacists and others who have the temerity to dissent from the philosophical and ethical views of those who happen to have acquired power in the American College of
Obstetrics and Gynecology. Either to get in line or
to go out of business. If their advice were followed,
if they had their way their field of medical
practice would be cleansed of pro-life physicians, nurses, people like you and me. It would be cleansed of people who have any problem about abortion. Faithful Catholics,
Evangelical Protestants and many observant Jews and Muslims would be excluded from or forced out of obstetrics and gynecology
and related fields. The entire field would conveniently be composed of people
who could be relied on either to agree with, or at
a minimum to go along with, the moral and political opinions
of the report’s authors. So in truth, I ask you who in the debate is guilty of intolerance? Who’s favoring coercion? Who’s trampling on freedom? Who’s imposing their values? These questions too, answer themselves. It won’t do in my opinion to say that what is being proposed here for imposition on dissenters
is not a morality, but merely good medical practice for it’s not science or
medicine that’s shaping the report’s understanding of what counts as medical practice, or
good medical practice. It’s rather a moral
opinion doing the shaping, the opinion that abortion is
good medicine, healthcare. And that’s a judgment brought to medicine not a judgment derived from it. It reflects a view that
abortion is morally legitimate and no violation of the rights
of the child who is killed as well as the view that
medicine is rightly concerned to facilitate people’s
lifestyle, ideas and choices even when they are neither sick nor in danger of being injured, and even when the
so-called medical procedure involves the taking of human life. Whether an elective abortion,
or to take another example, in-vitro fertilization
procedure or what have you counts as healthcare, as
opposed to a patient’s desired outcome or personal choice cannot be established or resolved
by the methods of science or by any morally or
ethically neutral form of inquiry or reasoning. One’s view of the matter will reflect one’s moral and ethical
convictions either way. Now I happen to believe that
we’re not in the domain of the arbitrary or the
subjective or the relative when we’re in the domain of
moral and political philosophy. A lot of people on the other side seem to believe that, some don’t. But I don’t believe that. My point is not to appeal
to some sort of relativism or subjectivism but simply to point out that we are in the domain of
moral and political philosophy not in the domain of medicine and science when we’re trying to access what counts as the ethical delivery of healthcare. What counts as good medicine
when the question is the life taking choice of
abortion or a range of other procedures performed by
medically trained people but not for the sake of health. So the report’s constant
use of the language of health and reproductive health and describing and
referring to the key issues giving rise to conflicts of conscience is at best, at best question begging. No that’s too kind. The report’s use of this
language amounts to a form of rhetorical manipulation. The question at issue in abortion is not reproductive health,
or health of any kind precisely because direct abortions, that is the deliberate
decision to try to end the life of a developing child for the purpose of getting that child dead, are not procedures designed
to make sick people healthy or to protect them
against disease or injury. Again, pregnancy is not a disease. The goal of direct abortions
is to cause the death of the child because a woman beliefs that her life will be better off without the child existing then it would be with a child’s existing. In itself, a direct or elective abortion deliberately bringing about the
death of the child in utero, does nothing to advance maternal health. Though sometimes, as we all know, the death of the child is
an unavoidable side effect of a procedure such as the
removal of a cancerous womb that is designed to combat
a truly grave threat to a woman’s health. But when we’re talking
about the abortion debate we’re not talking about those cases, which really are health cases where health decisions have to be made which sometimes do result in the death of the developing child,
but as a side effect. And this I think why it’s wrong to depict elective abortion as healthcare. And there’s yet another
irony worth noting. The report, in defending its
proposal to compel physicians at least to refer for procedures that many physicians believe are immoral, unjust and even homicidal, states that such referrals,
and let me quote again this is from the report. Get this, I love it. “Need not be conceptualized “as a repudiation or a
compromise of one’s own values “but instead can be seen
as an acknowledgement “of both the widespread
and thoughtful disagreement “among physicians and society at large “and the moral sincerity of
others with whom one disagrees.” How nice. They’re offering us a way of
looking at our capitulation to injustice, indeed homicidal injustice that will enable us to let us
let ourselves off the hook. How solicitous of them, how kind. Suddenly it’s the case that
the underlying issues at stake such as abortion are
matters of, you heard it, “widespread and thoughtful disagreement.” Well actually I believe that too. I mean I know plenty of thoughtful people who are on the other side of this issue. I don’t think at the end of the day the case can be made, but
there are thoughtful people on the other side. And it becomes clear from the report that we should show respect
for the moral sincerity of those with whom we disagree and I believe in that too. But it seems to me that it
follows from these councils that thoughtful and sincere people need not agree that abortion for example, is morally innocent or acceptable or that there is a right to abortion or that the provision of abortion is part of good healthcare
or is healthcare at all at least in the case
of elective abortions. So I would like to reciprocate the good will of my friends on the other side at ACOG and tell them that
they can conceptualize or re-conceptualize honoring
the conscience rights of physicians, healthcare
workers and others as, what shall we call it? Honoring the conscience
rights of physicians, healthcare and others. Why don’t they try to see it that way? But then what could possibly justify the exercise of coercion
to compel thoughtful, morally sincere people
who believe that abortion is a homicidal injustice
either to perform the procedure or make a referral for it or else leave the practice of medicine. The report’s, my way or the
highway view of the thing, you know which is just hidden again behind this, well you
can re-conceptualize this because people of good will disagree, all that particular screen,
hiding behind that screen is a my way or the
highway view of the thing which is anything but an acknowledgement of the widespread and
thoughtful disagreement among physicians and society at large and the moral sincerity of
those with whom one disagrees. Indeed it’s a repudiation of that. Well needless to say,
the enemies of conscience as they have made themselves in the American College of
Obstetrics and Gynecology and elsewhere in the medical establishment in the pro-choice movement now have powerful friends in the highest realms of government. It has become all too
clear that these friends share the desire to eradicate
conscience protection for pro-life physicians and other healthcare workers and pharmacists. The Obama administration has formally abrogated the conscience
protection regulations promulgated by the Bush
administration back in 2008. These regulations were long overdue rules needed for the effective implementation and enforcement of conscience
protective federal laws that have been formally
in place since long before any of you were born, or most of you were born, the early 1970s. They included definitions of key terms in the existing legislation. Although the term abortion itself has not been formally defined thus, leaving open the
question for example whether the administration
of abortifiation drugs counts as an abortion. Still, the Bush regulations strengthened conscience
protections for pro-life medical professionals and medical students in a variety of ways. And this is another area in which we find the assault not just on people
who are already physicians or people who are nurses or
other healthcare workers. But the idea of forcing,
Mayor Bloomberg in New York was a big advocate of this, forcing medical students
to participate in abortions as part of their medical
training with no exemption. Well that will cleanse
the medical profession of these undesirable
Catholics or Evangelicals or Orthodox Jews, won’t it? For example, the Bush
regulations clearly prohibited any form of discrimination
against practitioners and medical students who simply refuse to undergo training for abortions or perform abortions
or refer for abortions. Moreover, the regulations
prohibited discrimination which is very important, in
credentialing and licensing on grounds related to the
refusal to be involved in the practice of abortion. I suppose or suspect that the
Obama administration’s goal in abrogating conscience
protection regulations which is one of the first
things the administration did in coming into office, is to establish a policy
at the regulatory level very much in line with the
ACOG ethics committee’s proposed rules of conscientious
refusal or a wrong conscientious refusal in
reproductive medicine. In addition, I expect the
Obama administration in the end will act against any
protections designed to protect people by making sure that their professional associations and accrediting and certification bodies don’t discriminate against pro-life individuals and institutions. Now none of this should
be a surprise to anyone. President Obama’s fervent
support for abortion is a matter of public record extending over his entire career. To my knowledge, he has
never supported a restriction on abortion of any type,
or opposed an effort to expand its availability. He famously said that if
one of his daughters quote, “Made a mistake,” unquote he would not want to see her quote, punished unquote with a baby. He usually does not claim
even to be personally opposed to abortion, as
most so-called pro-choice politicians claim to be. He opposed legislation prohibiting
partial birth abortions, a procedure of course as you know in which the child is killed after
he or she is partially delivered outside the mother’s body. Scissors are jammed into
the base of the skull and opened so that the brain material can be suctioned out. I hate to describe this so graphically but the truth needs to be told. And he even fought
against laws of the sort that were designed and
championed by Professor Arkes to protect children born alive after an unsuccessful attempt at abortion. A truly shameful position. As president, he very early
on revoked the Mexico City policy which prohibited
the government funding of organizations that perform
or promote abortions overseas and he promised to
fight over the long term to repeal the Hyde Amendment which forbids the federal funding of abortions in the United States. During the 2008 presidential campaign, he promised to give priority to enacting the provisions of the
so-called Freedom Of Choice Act which would, in the words
of the abortion lobby, not my words their words, “Overturn hundreds of state and federal “anti-abortion laws such
as parental notification “requirements for minors seeking abortions “and informed consent laws requiring “women contemplating
abortions to be informed “of the facts of fetal development “and the physical and
emotional risks of abortion.” And of course, President
Obama has attempted to impose on religious employers
as well as everybody else these requirements of
providing healthcare coverage not only for contraceptives
and sterilizations but for abortion inducing
drugs such as Ella. And so it falls to us to resist. And to do so not only for the
sake of defending the lives of our most vulnerable
brothers and sisters, the children in the womb, but also in defense of
what James Madison called the sacred rights of conscience. Today, many of those who
would sanction and support the taking of human life by abortion or an embryo destructive research have also made themselves
the enemies of conscience. We who are friends of life must also be friends of conscience. Indeed we must be
conscience’s best friends. For many of us here
standing up for conscience means defending the
principles of our faith. For all of us standing up for conscience means defending principles on
which our nation was founded. Thank you all and God
bless you in your work in defense of human life. (audience applause) Thank you. – Thank you professor George so very much for those wonderful,
thought provoking comments on the state of our culture today. We truly do appreciate you
coming down from New Jersey to visit our conference here. We just have a couple quick announcements and then before our closer prayer. So just hang in tight for a
few more minutes, thank you. – Good afternoon everyone. My name is Eileen Marino
and I am this year’s volunteer coordinator. It’s been an incredible
privilege meeting and listening to all of our speakers
and seeing the testament you all provide to life and human dignity simply by being here. This is an issue very
near and dear to my heart and it inspires me to see each
and every one of you here. I wanted to take a
minute to thank everyone for their attendance and
support of the conference. To all of our friends and families for standing by us and helping us with all of the detail work. And especially to every single one of the Georgetown volunteers. We wouldn’t have been able
to do this without you guys. It’s an even greater
privilege though for me to thank Evelyn and Kelly for their work directing this conference. (audience applause) These two women have worked
tirelessly for the past year never once fishing for
compliments and thanks and I have yet to hear them complain about the amount of work they’ve
had to do, which is a lot. (laughs) And they’re both very
inclined towards talking so it makes it even more incredible that they haven’t complained. (laughs) I think that one of the greatest assets to the pro-life movement is young people. People like these two women who seek every opportunity to witness how wonderful and magnificent life is. They make this work such
a beautiful ministry and it is their fervor
and the joy and the love that they put into this conference and to every aspect of their lives that helps people understand
that there truly can’t be no love without justice. Evelyn and Kelly, I for one am blown away by the phenomenal job that you’ve done and I could not be more
honored to call you my friends. You’ve set the bar so high
for next year’s conference and I can’t wait to see the impact it will have in the future. So for that and for everything, thank you. (audience applause) It is my great privilege to
welcome Father Kevin O’Brien the vice-president of Mission and Ministry for some closing remarks and a prayer. – Thank you and on behalf
of president Degioia and the Georgetown community here to Kelly and Evelyn and
all of our organizers who did such a remarkable job. At universities, at any
university we believe in the free exchange of ideas and the passionate defense of values. And today we have heard
values which go to the core of our Catholic tradition. And so my gratitude to Professor George but to all the panelists this morning and all the presenters
at the break-out sessions you really helped to
animate us as a university on this holiday. Where with Martin Luther
King and his vigorous defense of human personhood we
have offered our own here today on this hilltop. And so we close with a prayer as a fitting to end our day. We have the mass for life
which will begin at 5 o’clock in Dahlgren Chapel, all are welcome. But we end, we conclude
our ceremonies here in Gaston Hall with a prayer. About 10 years ago,
the Jesuits provincials of the United States issued
a statement on abortion standing for the unborn. And to preface my prayer
I offer their words which close that seminal document. They wrote, “As we Jesuits have throughout
our 500 year history “Jesuits today will continue to undertake “a broad variety of works
and play diverse roles “in the church and in the wider society. “It is our desire that Jesuits
along with our colleagues “and students will continue to offer “a consistent message of respect for life “especially for unborn children. “All are God’s sons and daughters. “All of them, particularly
the most vulnerable “and those yet to be born,
must be treated with respect “and protected by the laws of our nation. “And so let us pray.” Living God, we thank you for
the blessing of our gathering for all of our organizers and
presenters and participants who have given of their
talent, their thought, their energy so generously. You gather us here so that we
can deepen our understanding, our prayer, our conviction to promote life from the moment of
conception to natural death. Dear Lord life is indeed
your sacred gift to us all. You have given us this day for us to live. But life is also our noble commission. That is, we must use our lives
to promote respect for life in all ways, from unborn children to those in our society who
are looked over or left behind. Those who live in the shadows,
those infirmed and dying. Help us dear Lord to
be worthy of that call for your glory is the
human person fully alive. Dear Lord we commend all of our thinking and learning, our work
and efforts this day to your hands knowing
that with your grace, all will be brought to fruition for your glory and the good of all. We ask this through Christ our lord, amen. Thank you all very much. (audience applause)

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