Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Commission of the Week: March for Life

This semester, ND Right to Life will be featuring one of our commissions on our blog each week.  Our hope is to introduce students to the wide range of activities our club is involved in, and to connect people with commissions specific to their interests.  Right to Life has 16 commissions which coordinate various service projects, events, and activities.  This week, we highlight the March for Life commission.

This year, Notre Dame had 590 students registered to attend the March for Life in Washington D.C.  The group experienced a difficult setback when the second round of buses was unable to make the trip due to weather, but despite the snow 320 Notre Dame students made the trip to Washington, D.C. to march for their beliefs.  The students were also joined by staff, faculty, and alumni, including University President Rev. John Jenkins, C.S.C.  To read more about the experience, check out articles published in The Observer and The Irish Rover, or a reflection by this year's March coordinator Jen Gallic.

When asked why they marched, student responses were numerous and varied:

"We're here to protect the human dignity of all persons from conception to natural death."

"Every life matters, and we want to spread the word."

"I'm here for the respect of fatherhood."

"We want to stand up for the most vulnerable citizens in our society!"

"I just really want our nation to hear our voices and know that it's an important issue that should be discussed."

"I'm here in the celebration of life"

"This is the land of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, but how can you do any of that if you can't have the right to live your own life?"

We would like to thank Jen Gallic, the coordinator of this year's March, as well as the rest of the March team: Megan Ball, Noreen Fischer, and Will Harris.  If you are interested in helping to plan next year's March, please contact Jen at

For more photo from this year's March for Life trip, visit our official photo album.  
For a full list of commissions or to get involved, visit us at

Thursday, January 31, 2013

One issue is more than enough

An excellent letter to the editor today:

In his column “One issue isn’t enough” (Jan. 28), Mr. Durkin writes that modern politics is complex and urges us not to vote based simply on the pro-life/pro-choice debate. This exhortation, however, fails to take into account the nature of the right to life as the underpinning of all other rights.

Our Declaration of Independence states, “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit ofHappiness.” It is very clear it is not possible to protect liberty and the pursuit of happiness without first protecting life, and for this reason the debate regarding the sanctity of life is not simply “one issue” as Mr. Durkin claims, nor can it be equated to school vouchers or climate change. Blessed Pope John Paul II explains this in his Apostolic Exhortation Christi fideles Laici, writing, “Above all, the common outcry, which is justly made on behalf of human rights — for example, the right to health, to home, to work, to family, to culture — is false and illusory if the right to life, the most basic and fundamental right and the condition for all other personal rights, is not defended with maximum determination.”
Because the right to life is so basic, and because the importance of all other political issues pale in comparison to it, abortion and euthanasia are among the non-negotiable issues the Church has stated all Catholics must vote against — both by voting against the policies themselves and by voting against candidates who endorse them. In effect, when it comes to voting for candidates who are pro-life, nothing else matters.   

So in response to Mr. Durkin’s question, “Does it really make sense to base political judgments so heavily on someone’s views on one issue alone,” I say yes, it does, because neither tax reform nor foreign policy matter one iota in a society that does not recognize the basic right to life of all of its citizens.

Patrick Gallagher
Knott Hall

Right to Life News Coverage

Check out news coverage on Notre Dame's involvement in the 2013 March for Life!:

Cardinal Newman Society: "Fr. Jenkins to March for Life"

Cardinal Newman Society: "Notre Dame to lead March for Life"

The Daily Domer: "Marching for Life"

St. Blogustine Blog: "40th March for Life in Pictures"

Observer Viewpoints:

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Libby Anne and Birth Control, a Rebuttal

          In a recent blog post that 'went viral' entitled, "How I lost faith in the 'Pro-Life' movement", author Libby Anne presents a compelling argument on how the goals of the pro-life movement are not in sync with the ways in which the movement aims at accomplishing these goals.  Despite her arguments, Anne's blog misses the primary question seeking to be answered in the pro-life/pro-choice debate: when does a human life become a person deserving the protection of the law? 
            There are many arguments for and against abortion, but at its root, the pro-life movement is based upon the ideal that ALL human life has dignity and should be protected.  Scientifically, we can prove that human life begins at conception (find sources here and here), so then the question we must ask ourselves is when does this life become valuable and therefore necessitate protection under the law?  The answer to this question is the crux of the pro-life argument and while not all pro-lifers may be the best at articulating it, the primary reason we believe abortion should be outlawed is because we believe that every life has value and therefore should be granted the legal right to life. 
            Libby Anne’s main premise on the pro-life movement's misplaced goals is that the greatest way to reduce abortion is through widespread promotion of birth control. This fails for two reasons:  First, while birth control may reduce abortion numbers in the short term, especially in developing nations, it has failed to reduce unintended pregnancies in developed nations that have had birth control for long periods of time. In fact, according to the Guttmacher Institute, unintended pregnancies have been on the rise in the United States over the past few years (see unintended pregnancy rates in the US over time, here).  And it is these unintended pregnancies that are the main cause for abortion. Also, according to the  Guttmacher Institute, more than half of all abortions are performed on fetuses conceived while the woman is on birth control.  When more than half of the pregnancies that lead to an abortion happen while birth control is being used, it does not make sense to put forth large amounts of effort in promoting its use. 
            The second and more important reason for the lack of promotion of birth control is that it goes against the very basis of the pro-life argument: human dignity.  Pro-lifers as a whole do NOT advocate outlawing birth control, but many of them see the promotion of birth control as disrespectful to the dignity of women.  This is because the normalization of contraception allows the consequences of sex (the possibility of pregnancy, emotional attachment, STDs, etc.) to be disregarded.  This allows men to view women as objects for sex and not as the beautiful and dignified person who should be valued for much more than sex. 
            Indeed, from my conversations with other men, I can tell you that birth control has allowed men to disregard the fact that behind sex there is a person.  And that person has feelings and a life that has value far beyond what is offered in short term sexual relationships.  I understand that there are many reasons for which birth control is used, but there are natural consequences that come with having sex that must be realized.  Women tend to have a much better understanding of this because they are much more closely effected, but many men and women in this age of birth control act as if there are no consequences to the sexual act. 
            Birth control allows the consequences of sex to be pushed aside. It takes away the need for sex to be considered as more than just an act of pleasure. With birth control it becomes easy for both parties to wrongly assume that they can enjoy sex without thinking about the emotional and physical meaning behind the act.  Squandering the need for these considerations squanders the respect of the dignity of the man and the woman involved in the sexual act. Respect of human dignity is at the heart of the pro-life movement and as such, the movement cannot stand behind something that inhibits this respect of dignity.  With regards to those who do use birth control, I understand there are many complexities and cases which I do not fully understand.  I am trying to point out the other effects that sex without consequences has on the dignity of the people involved.   
            As it pertains to the pro-life movement, it makes no sense to promote something that allows the consequences of sex and, in certain cases, the dignity of women to be ignored.  It is important that birth control is not pushed upon women for ulterior motives, however well intended, which may allow her to be used.  The promotion of birth control does not solve the unintended pregnancy problem, but instead leads to a culture where the consequences of sex are not fully considered by both parties.  This leads to a devaluation of the sexual act as well as the people involved which is not something that can be encouraged by a movement focused on the value and dignity of every life.

-Stephen Wandor is a senior aerospace engineer and VP of communications for Notre Dame Right to Life

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Celebrate Life

Published in The Observer on Friday, September 21, 2012:

Dear Ms. Sullivan,
Thank you for voicing your concerns about our club and the use of Dr. Seuss’ quote. Our intent in using the Dr. Seuss quote was to promote the idea that everyone has value and that value is not dependent on size, capabilities, age or talent. We support and celebrate life from conception until natural death. To that end, our club participates in volunteering at Hannah and Friends, Hannah’s House, The Women’s Care Center, and Portage Manor. Upholding the sanctity of all human life is the mission of our club and for that reason our club T-shirts this year feature Matthew Kelly’s quote, “The best way to defend life, is to celebrate life.

We would like to invite you and the entire Notre Dame family to learn more about our club. Our next meeting will be announced on our website, We would love to discuss more fully our club and our mission. Please join us in celebrating the value and joy of life in all its stages.
Notre Dame Right to Life Officers
Jen Gallic
Stephen Wandor
Chris Damian
Erin Cool-Shirt
Jason Taulman
Aleshia Faulstich
Sept. 19