How Pro-Life is Notre Dame?

I believe that Notre Dame is a very pro-life campus!

Unfortunately, Notre Dame is often pinned as being “not pro-life” because the University, unfortunately, gave an honorary degree to the most pro-abortion President in the history of the United States, Barack Obama. 

While this is definitely unfortunate, I think it is a far stretch to claim that ND is not a pro-life- friendly place. Here are a couple reasons why:   

For two weeks in June, I had the great opportunity to step away from my desk in D.C. and head out to the mid-west to take part in a two-week pro-life training: The Notre Dame Vita Institute.  Thanks to the generosity of committed pro-life donors, all Vita Institute participants attend on a scholarship.

The Vita Institute is an incredible two-week intensive learning experience, coordinated by the Notre Dame Center for Ethics and Culture. The program’s purpose is to educate individuals working in the pro-life movement, and to provide these professional pro-lifers with the tools to adequately and even eloquently express the pro-life message.  I am grateful to have been part of such a special group. From religious sisters and seminarians to recent college graduates and professionals who have had long careers in the pro-life movement, the participants of the Vita Institute come from a wide range of backgrounds, professions and ages. The unique experiences that everyone brings to the Vita Institute create an interesting environment for dialogue and discussion.

 Professors and pro-life luminaries traveled from as far as Rome and Switzerland to teach about their experience working in the culture of life arena. One professor, Dr. Maureen Condic, from the University of Utah, spent three days providing the scientific foundation for when life begins. We also were blessed to be taught by Professor Carter Snead, Director of the Center for Ethics and Culture, who discussed the legal history of abortion, stem-cell research and end-of-life issues. Dr. Michael New of University of Michigan, Dearborn, provided data and statistics that continue to point towards the hopeful reality that Americans are increasingly identifying as pro-life! 

In addition to the academic side, Vita Institute participants were also exposed to the great work of pregnancy resource centers. We visited the “Women’s Care Center” and “Hannah’s House,” both homes for pregnant women who have limited options.   Pregnancy centers are truly the heart of the pro-life movement — they provide a safe environment where mothers, fathers and babies are cared for and loved!

The Vita Institute is not the only place of renewal in the pro-life movement on the university’s campus. Notre Dame Right to Life (NDRL) is one of the largest clubs on campus, if not the largest. In 2012, the NDRL club brought over 600 students on a 1,200 mile trip to the March for Life in Washington, DC!  NDRL is entirely student-run and is making quite an impact with powerful programs; including volunteer opportunities at local pregnancy centers, lectures, and “Girl Talk” events designed to bring together women on both sides of the issues to dialogue about topics that affect women such as abortion and contraception.  Students involved in this club engage other students on campus and challenge their pro-abortion view. The NDRL club places a focus on both the mother and the baby and the student leaders view this as a new and better approach to the pro-life message on a college campus. They also focus on the beauty and dignity of every human life: mom, dad and baby. Participants are not focused on the politics of the issue but rather on revealing the “joys of life”. Their motto for this year was taken from Matthew Kelly, “The best way to defend life is to celebrate life.”

Additionally a few ND students began a blog called “The New Pro-Life”.  The blog’s underpinning is that it is through joy, and genuine concern for other’s that lives will be saved. The blog is centered on joy and beauty, rather than debate and negativity that can sometimes be found in certain elements of the pro-life movement.

So, yes it is true that Notre Dame honored pro-abortion President Obama, and maybe certain members of the administration aren’t 100% pro-life. Yet it is also clear that there are great things happening at Notre Dame! Although the administration made a mistake in inviting President Obama, it definitely gave a lot of alumni and people on campus motivation to ensure that a culture of life is continually being built at Notre Dame. God can use bad situations for the good!


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