Cardinal O'Connor Conference on Life

The largest collegiate pro-life conference in the United States

Saturday, January 25, 2020

Our Twenty-first Annual Conference

2018 Panel Discussion



Much like the future of our nation, the future of the pro-life movement is younger, less religious, and more diverse than previous generations motivated by life issues, according to survey data. While most pro-life people still are religious, many activists in the movement today are choosing not to root their arguments in religious notions of God or doctrine, amid the perception of many that the movement is inextricably linked to Catholicism and evangelical Christianity. This raises the question of whether removing God from the equation lessens the moral imperative which so animates and motivates the religious segment of the movement. Are there valid, nonreligious arguments for life? If so, should these arguments be primarily grounded in human rights, science, or something else entirely? In the 2018 Cardinal O'Connor Conference on Life, we will address these questions by attempting to reconcile the attitudes and tendencies of today's secular world with the traditional religious values, if any, that undergird the pro-life position, with the end goal of defending and promoting a consistent ethic of life among believers and nonbelievers alike. 


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Mary Eberstadt is a Senior Research Fellow at the Faith and Reason Institute in Washington, D.C. She is author of several books including It's Dangerous to Believe: Religious Freedom and its Enemies; How the West Really Lost God: A New Theory of Secularization; and Adam and Eve after the Pill: Paradoxes of the Sexual Revolution. Her essays and reviews have appeared in TIME, First Things, the Wall Street JournalNational Review, the Weekly, and other journals and magazines. Her 2010 novel The Loser Letters, about a young woman in rehab who turns to atheism, was adapted for stage by playwright Jeffrey Fiske (The Screwtape Letters) and premiered at the Catholic University of America's Hartke Theater in fall 2016.



Formerly the Associate Director of Pro-Life Activities at the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, Richard M. Doerflinger recently retired from the Secretariat of Pro-Life Activities, where for 36 years he researched and drafted policy statements and delivered congressional testimony on abortion, euthanasia, conscience rights in health care, embryo research, and other medical-moral issues for the bishops’ conference.  He also helped develop broader documents on health care reform and faithful citizenship. His writings include contributions to The Journal of Law, Medicine & EthicsHastings Center ReportDuquesne Law Review, the Kennedy Institute of Ethics Journal, the Encyclopedia of Catholic Doctrine (Our Sunday Visitor Press 1997), the National Catholic Bioethics Quarterly, and the American Journal of Bioethics.  His syndicated column, “A More Human Society,” is distributed to Catholic periodicals twice a month by the national Catholic News Service.  He is a Public Policy Fellow at the University of Notre Dame’s Center for Ethics and Culture, an Associate Scholar at the Charlotte Lozier Institute in Washington D.C., and Adjunct Fellow in Bioethics and Public Policy at the National Catholic Bioethics Center in Philadelphia. In April 2011 he became the first recipient of the Evangelium Vitae Medal, awarded annually by the University of Notre Dame’s Fund to Protect Human Life “to honor individuals whose outstanding efforts have served to proclaim the Gospel of Life by steadfastly affirming and defending the sanctity of human life from its earliest stages.” He holds a B.A. degree and an M.A. in Divinity from the University of Chicago, and conducted doctoral studies in Theology at that institution and the Catholic University of America.


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Kelsey Hazzard is the founder and president of Secular Pro-Life, which brings together people of every faith and no faith in defense of the human right to life. She was raised in the (pro-choice) United Methodist church, and is now an atheist. Kelsey is a proud graduate of the University of Miami (B.A. 2009) and the University of Virginia School of Law (J.D. 2012). She has appeared in media outlets from Slate to The Weekly Standard, her writings are regularly reprinted on and Live Action News, and you might recognize her from the pro-life documentary film 40. In the rare moments that she's not practicing law or advocating against abortion, she enjoys nature hikes and karaoke. 

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Dr. Marguerite Duane, a board certified family physician, is co-founder and Executive Director of FACTS – the Fertility Appreciation Collaborative to Teach the Science, a project of the Family Medicine Education Consortium (FMEC). She also serves as an Adjunct Associate Professor at Georgetown University, where she directs an introductory course on natural methods of family planning.  Dr. Duane also works with Modern Mobile Medicine, a direct primary care house-calls based practice serving patients in the DC metropolitan area. Dr. Duane is the immediate past-president of the St. Giuseppe Moscatti Guild of the Catholic Medical Association in the Archdiocese of Washington, DC. and formerly served as the medical director of the Spanish Catholic Center of Catholic Charities, a non-profit community health center that cares for an almost exclusively poor and uninsured population in the DC metropolitan area.

Dr. Duane received her M.D. degree with recognition in primary care from the State University of New York at Stony Brook and completed her Family Medicine residency at Lancaster General Hospital in Lancaster, PA. She received a Bachelor of Science with Honors degree and a Master of Health Administration degree from Cornell University.   Dr. Duane is trained as a Creighton Medical consultant and a TeenSTAR educator.  She has delivered multiple presentations on the use of fertility awareness based methods and published articles on the effectiveness of these methods for family planning and the use of apps for tracking fertility. Dr. Duane balances her career as a teacher and Family Physician, with her role as a mother and wife. She is proud to be accompanied on this life’s journey by her husband and fellow family physician, Dr. Kenneth Lin, and they are delighted to be the parents of 4 young children.





John Carr is the Director of the Initiative on Catholic Social Thought and Public Life at Georgetown University which seeks to share Catholic Social Thought more broadly and deeply and reach out to a new generation of leaders to help them become “salt, light and leaven” in public life.

Carr was the Washington correspondent of America and wrote the Washington Frontcolumn for the magazine. In 2012, he was a Residential Fellow on religion and politics at the Institute of Politics of Harvard University.

John served for over 20 years as Director of the Department of Justice, Peace and Human Development at the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), assisting the bishops in sharing Catholic social teaching and directing their public policy and advocacy efforts on major domestic and international issues. Carr represented the Bishops’ Conference before Congress, at the Vatican, across the U.S. and around the world.  He assisted the bishops on a wide range of statements, including Faithful CitizenshipCommunities of Salt and Light and documents on economic justice, health care, environment and climate change, criminal justice and the death penalty, religious liberty and war and peace (see Washington Post and Sojourners).

Carr frequently appears in the media, addressing Pope Francis’ leadership, links between faith and public life and issues of poverty, environment, human life and dignity and international affairs. He has appeared on the PBS NewsHour, CNN, ABC, NBC, CBS and in the Washington Post, New York Times, Wall Street Journal, TIME, Atlantic, Politico and USA Today.

Carr has been a leader at the intersection of faith and public life in Washington for more than two decades. He founded the Circle of Protection, a religious advocacy coalition defending the poor and vulnerable, and he was a founding board member of the National Religious Partnership for the Environment.  He currently serves on the boards of Bread for the World and the Law School of the University of St. Thomas. In addition, Carr also served as Executive Director of the White House Conference on Families for President Carter and as Director of the National Committee for Full Employment led by Coretta Scott King.