Excerpt from my report from the 2018 Cardinal O’Connor Conference on Life
January 20, 2018, Washington, D.C.
The driver of the Route G2 Metrobus assured me that I was at the right stop. “The building’s straight ahead of you.” I stepped off the bus a little uncertainly, then spotted the protesters flanking the doors of the nearest building. This must be the place, I thought. Nothing like a pro-life event to foster free speech. Welcome to Georgetown University.
The protesters, about two dozen young women, were between chants as I got to the building’s front steps. One of them said to the others in a tentative voice, “OK, let’s do ‘pro-life, that’s a lie,’ OK?” She sounded afraid someone might say no. A moment later they all took up the chant: pro-life, that’s a lie, you don’t care if women die.
Their voices faded quickly as I moved into the building and was caught up in the friendly crush of a crowd, seven hundred strong, arriving for the Cardinal O’Connor Conference on Life. This has been an annual event since 2000, organized by Georgetown students, yet I hadn’t heard of it until just a few weeks ago.
So why did I tack an extra day on to my March for Life trip in order to catch a bus to Georgetown? Because of the speakers, and the conference theme: (Ir)religiously Pro-Life: the Future of the Movement in a Secular World.
I left later with the same questions I’d had when I arrived: how and where is that working? Where’s the synthesis? I don’t doubt that it’s possible – but where to start?
For now, I’m encouraged to know that I’m not the only one pondering the questions.