Women and Children First

Golden Dome

As the leading voice for pro-life teaching, research, service, and public engagement at Notre Dame, the de Nicola Center is proud to spearhead the “Women and Children First Initiative.”

Knowing that building a true culture of life requires deep, comprehensive attention to the needs of women, children (born and unborn), and families, the de Nicola Center has launched this initiative to undertake interdisciplinary research, teaching, service, and public engagement around the many interlocking questions at the heart of building a culture of life. These questions include the legal, policy, social, and ethical dimensions of issues regarding health care, housing, education, employment, poverty, racial justice, religious liberty, and international human rights, among others.

Concretely, this initiative envisions a sustained and coordinated effort across the disciplines to provide research and publications both for academic, general, and policy expert audiences; academic conferences both in the U.S. and abroad; course development; support for faculty, students, and visiting scholars; expert advice for governmental, private sector, and nonprofit audiences; and broad dissemination and publication of the fruits of these efforts in the global public square. 

Through this initiative, the de Nicola Center supports Notre Dame's role as a leading witness to the sanctity of every human life, proclaiming the radical hospitality at the heart of the pro-life movement in which all are welcomed into the human family in love, friendship, and support.

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The Dobbs Anniversary: Supporting the Culture of Life at the dCEC

Supporting the Culture of Life at the dCEC

On June 24, 2023, America marked the first anniversary of the landmark Supreme Court decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women's Health Organization, which restored the right of the American people to create laws and policies that protect human life at all stages of development and offer comprehensive support to women, children, and families. In the year following the Supreme Court's decision, the de Nicola Center has hosted more than 15 presentations, panel discussions, and conversations examining how best to pursue that vital work in the new post-Dobbs landscape. We've compiled a catalog of our events, lectures, and programming on these topics, available on our news page.


Dr. Chireau Testifies Before Senate Judiciary Committee

Dr. Chireau at US Senate

On April 26, 2023, dCEC Senior Research Analyst Monique Chireau Wubbenhorst, MD, MPH testified before the Senate Committee on the Judiciary at a hearing addressing "The Assault on Reproductive Rights in a Post-Dobbs America," telling the lawmakers that "The Dobbs decision, which returns decision making on abortion legislation to the states, and federal elected officials, presents an opportunity to mitigate abortion’s many harms to women, unborn human beings and communities. Abortion not only poses risks to the mother, it is always lethal to an unborn child." Read her prepared testimony here.


National Maternity Housing Coalition

Leo Maternity Homes

What is the effect of maternity homes on housing stability and measures of well being for the mother and child? The de Nicola Center is proud to collaborate with Notre Dame's Wilson Sheehan Lab for Economic Opportunities (LEO) on its research study exploring the impact of maternity homes on improving outcomes for expectant mothers and their babies. These services seek to provide stable housing and comprehensive services that address both the immediate housing needs of pregnant women, as well as set the mother and child on a path towards long-term self-sufficiency. Learn more about the study at leo.nd.edu.


Webinar Series: Caring for Women and Children

Caring for Women and Children Webinar Series

"Caring for Women and Children: Navigating Medicine, Law, and Policy after Dobbs" is a virtual panel series addressing questions facing women, physicians, and policy makers. The first session (recording available here) explored common questions facing women and doctors about protecting the life of the mother and managing healthcare for both children and women in light of the Dobbs decision. Part two (recording available here) discussed challenges facing practitioners and the overall practice of medicine. Part three explored the future of care, including medicine and social support for mothers, babies (born and unborn) and families.


Flash Panel: Understanding Dobbs

Dobbs Flash Panel June 24 Small

In the hours following the historic U.S. Supreme Court decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, the de Nicola Center hosted a virtual panel of experts to discuss the implications of the decision and the path forward in caring for women, children, and their families. Panelists included O. Carter Snead (Notre Dame Law School), Heather G. Hacker (Hacker Stephens LLP), Diane Desierto (Notre Dame Law School), Sherif Girgis (Notre Dame Law School), and Mary Hallan FioRito (de Nicola Center for Ethics and Culture). Full recording here.


Flash Panel: The Leak, the Supreme Court, and the Future of Abortion in America

May 3 Web Poster Flash Panel

The de Nicola Center cosponsored a flash panel to discuss the implications of the leak of the Supreme Court's decision in Dobbs v. Jackson. Panelists included O. Carter Snead (director, de Nicola Center, and Notre Dame Law School), Sherif Girgis (Notre Dame Law School, clerk for Justice Alito 2018-19), and John Yoo (UC Berkeley Law, clerk for Justice Thomas 1994-95), moderated by V. Phillip Muñoz (Notre Dame Center for Citizenship and Constitutional Government). Full recording here.


The Role and Work of the Pro-Life Physician

Wcfi Pro Life Physician

In tandem with the Evangelium Vitae Medal celebration, the de Nicola Center hosted a panel discussion on providing pro-life care to women and children, featuring 2022 Notre Dame Evangelium Vitae Medal honoree John T. Bruchalski, MD; Monique Chireau Wubbenhorst, MD, MPH; John Y. Rhee, MD, MPH; and Katharine Callaghan, MD, MPA.