When presented with the label “Pro-Life,” most people think immediately of opposition to abortion. This is not incorrect; ending abortion-on-demand is one the goals the Pro-Life movement pursues relentlessly. Being Pro-Life, however, cannot focus only on ending abortion. With rapidly evolving medical technology and ever-changing laws, human beings are vulnerable at any age, whether in the womb, in a petri dish, or in a hospital. All of us in the Pro-Life movement have an obligation to educate ourselves and remain aware of threats to human Life so that we can consistently and successfully advocate for policies respecting and protecting the dignity of every human person.
The staff and faculty of Notre Dame’s Center for Ethics and Culture are committed to ensuring Pro-Life leaders have the education needed to protect Life in any profession. Each summer, the Center for Ethics and Culture hosts the Vita Institute, a week-long intensive interdisciplinary program for Pro-Life leaders around the globe. Rebecca Parma, a Political and Legislative Associate at Texas Right to Life, had the opportunity to attend the Vita Institute this June. Rebecca considers the opportunity one of the most incredible experiences in her life.
Throughout the course, which Rebecca described as a graduate school environment condensed into one week, participants had the opportunity to hear from some of our nation’s leading minds on a vast range of subjects. Each day had a central theme connecting all of the talks, with topics ranging from basic human embryology and the beginning of Life, to stem cell research, to end-of-life care. Following her time at Vita, Rebecca said that she felt more equipped to address the complex issues in the Pro-Life movement, even the less well-known subjects.
Rebecca considers the opportunity to network with other Pro-Life activists, learning from their experiences and expertise, a valuable part of the Vita Institute. Veronica Arnold Smither, Texas Right to Life’s Director of Education, attended the Vita Institute in 2015 and was equally impressed by her fellow participants. “One thing I remember being extremely impactful was realizing how many countries were represented,” she remarked when asked about her experience, adding that they all seemed to be looking to the United States for guidance, and to learn from our mistakes. Many of Vita’s lecturers intentionally socialize with the participants outside of their lectures, answering in-depth questions and continuing discussions sparked by the subject matter.
For those with a passion for defending Life, the Vita Institute is an amazing opportunity to enhance understanding of all the complexities in the Pro-Life movement. Admission is available to anyone with a Bachelor’s degree and, if accepted, participants are provided a full tuition waiver, lodgings for the week, meals, and course materials. Applications for the summer 2019 session have not yet opened, but details about the conference and other events hosted by the Center for Ethics and Culture can be found online on the Center’s website.
Although attending a week-long training session in the summer is not feasible for everyone, there are still a wealth of resources available to Pro-Life advocates who want to learn more. Organizations like National Right to Life, The Charlotte Lozier Institute, The Center for Bioethics and Culture, and The National Catholic Bioethics Center are valuable sources of information regarding bioethical issues. Texas Right to Life frequently posts news on TexasRightToLife.com relating to all Pro-Life topics. We strongly encourage everyone to become educated about the threats to human Life and dignity that surround us, whether by visiting recommended websites, reading books about bioethics, or attending the Vita Institute. The ability to articulate Pro-Life answers to attacks on human Life will transform us into more effective and successful advocates for the defense of human Life, from conception until natural death.