Pausing to Reflect on Pro-Life Victories

Author: Kenneth Hallenius

As the United States observes the 45th anniversary of the Supreme Court's tragic and misguided decision to deny unborn children the equal protection of the law, the Notre Dame Center for Ethics and Culture, the university's primary locus of pro-life research, teaching, and public engagement, has stepped up its efforts to proclaim the countercultural message that all human life is sacred and entitled to respect and protection.

Vita Institute: New York

Vita Nyc

On January 6, the Center partnered with Timothy Cardinal Dolan, Archbishop of New York, to present a condensed version of the Notre Dame Vita Institute, its elite pro-life training program. More than 175 guests registered to take part in the one-day workshop to explore the most pressing life issues with the CEC's world-premier scholars in biology, philosophy, theology, and law. In his remarks at the conference, Cardinal Dolan praised the work of the CEC, saying, "We need a day like this. We need to come together and hear renowned intellectuals assure us that we have science, philosophy, and America's founding principles on our pro-life side."

March For Life

On January 19, the Center partnered with the Notre Dame Right to Life student club to send 1,034 students and nearly 100 faculty and staff to the annual March for Life in Washington, D.C. Center Director O. Carter Snead gave an interview from the National Mall during the EWTN broadcast (his interview begins at the 14-minute mark).

Cec At Whitehouse

Professor Snead and CEC Sorin Fellows David Bender, Aly Cox, and Jack Ferguson were invited to join a small gathering at the White House Rose Garden, where for the first time in history the President of the United States addressed the Rally For Life via satellite.  Professor Snead also attended a reception for national pro-life leaders hosted by Vice President Mike Pence the evening before the March For Life.

March For Life 2018

This year's 1,100-strong Notre Dame contingent at the March For Life was a record-setting 25% larger than any previous cohort and included nearly 10% of the undergraduate student body. As Notre Dame Right to Life commissioner Nick Gabriele said, "It really speaks to the importance of the issue to people here on campus." Notre Dame again brought more students to the March than any other university.

Following the March For Life, the Center co-sponsored a reception with the Notre Dame Alumni Association that gathered more than 400 alumni, faculty, staff, families, and students to celebrate the impact of Notre Dame's record-setting attendance.

Notre Dame Evangelium Vitae Medal

Plated Medal Obverse And Reverse

On April 28, the Center will present the Notre Dame Evangelium Vitae Medal to former U.S. ambassador and Harvard professor of law Mary Ann Glendon at a Mass and banquet. Professor Snead praised Glendon, saying that "she personifies the goods at the heart of the Evangelium Vitae Medal. Through her work she has provided a joyful, loving and unwavering witness to the dignity of all persons, born and unborn, as created in the image and likeness of God."

Notre Dame Vita Institute

Vita2017 Snead

Our ND Vita Institute to prepare leaders in the national and international pro-life movement will take place on the Notre Dame campus June 15-23. In January 2019, the Center will again take a custom version of the ND Vita Institute on the road to Houston at the invitation of Daniel Cardinal DiNardo, Archbishop of Galveston-Houston. More information and the application for this summer's ND Vita Institute are available now at

Reflecting on the numerous pro-life programs and activities presented by the Center for Ethics and Culture, director Carter Snead said: "We are proud to be the primary engine that drives Notre Dame's pro-life witness, though we are not alone in this crucial work. Notre Dame's amazing students are indispensable and inspiring in their fervent commitment. We have a wonderful contingent of energized pro-life faculty and staff. And we have extraordinary partners across the university such as MICL's Office of Human Dignity and Life Initiatives, Campus Ministry, the ND Alumni Association, University Faculty for Life, the Knights of Columbus, and many more. The university itself has an institutional statement for life, affirming the inviolability of all life from conception to natural death, and has adopted research guidelines forbidding the use of materials derived from the intentional use and destruction of unborn children (including fetal or embryonic stem cells). We continue to hope and pray that the university will exercise its hard-won exemption from the HHS contraceptive, abortifacient, and sterilization mandate. The NDCEC will never flag in its efforts to help Notre Dame shine as a beacon for a culture of life in the global public square and elite academia. We are just getting started!"