Legatus’ annual conference in the nation’s capital encourages pro-lifers . . .
Despite the federal government’s growing assault on religious liberty and the political clout of Planned Parenthood, Legatus members who attended this year’s pro-life conference are confident that the right side is winning.
Kathleen Eaton, CEO of Birth Choice Health Clinics and a member of Legatus’ Orange Coast Chapter, says the event was a hands-on opportunity to learn how to build the culture of life in America more effectively.
“I think everybody in this room has taken away information dealing with pro-life issues and our call to stand up for our faith,” she said. “Our speakers gave us hope that we are winning this battle — hope and tools to ignite the movement within our own communities.”
Eaton was one of 21 Legates from across the country who gathered in Washington, D.C., for Legatus’ 11th Culture of Life Conference from May 2-4. The conference kicked off with Mass, followed by an address from Virginia attorney general Ken Cuccinelli, who discussed the Supreme Court case against the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ObamaCare) which should be decided in June. Cuccinelli filed a suit in federal court just 35 minutes after President Obama signed the bill into law.
“We have an opportunity to protect our Church and its institutions,” he said. “It’s a necessity.”
Legates visited The Heritage Foundation where they learned about the conservative think tank’s work to develop public policies that promote free enterprise, limited government and traditional values. Other speakers included Rep. Virginia Fox (R-NC); James R. Nolan, president of Crossroads; Penny Young Nance, president of Concerned Women for America; and Rep. Chris Smith (R-NJ).
Smith, who co-chairs the House pro-life caucus, talked about his conversations with Chinese pro-life activist Chen Guangcheng, who has since arrived in the United States. Smith also assured Legates that his fight for religious liberty and the lives of the most vulnerable would continue as the fall elections draw near.
“America is at a crossroads,” he said. “This election is critical.”
Jeff Smith, president of Legatus’ Manhattan Chapter, said the speakers and discussions that followed were remarkable.
“There are insights here that seem to be on the cutting edge,” he said. “There are conversations here that I don’t think are going on anywhere in the country yet. There were a lot of startling facts presented, but at the same time a lot of hope.”
Legatus Board of Governors member Mike Faricy, Colorado Springs Chapter, said the conference touched on a broad array of issues. “What I learned here will be a benefit not only to my chapter, but also to my diocese,” he said. “This kind of education is invaluable.”
Legates heard from Legate Marjorie Dannenfelser, president of Susan B. Anthony List, and a panel of experts who discussed how the abortion agenda has taken over medicine in the U.S.
Former Kansas attorney general Phill Kline also spoke. In 2005, Kline began investigating child rape cases, but found more than he bargained for as he dug deeper into the records of Kansas late-term abortionist George Tiller and the local Planned Parenthood affiliate.
“The evidence I found is not unique,” Kline said. “It’s just that no one is looking.” As his investigations deepened, both the judicial system and media turned on him. Planned Parenthood poured millions into defending itself, he said, because a conviction would mean the loss of $350 million in federal taxpayer funds.
Not only were Legates fed by excellent speakers, but more importantly by daily Mass, the rosary and the opportunity for Confession. Father Paul Schenk, chairman of the National Pro-Life Center, celebrated all three Masses for delegates.
“We are blessed to have excellent priests like Father Schenk working for the cause of life in our nation’s capital,” said Legatus’ executive director John Hunt. “He inspired all of us to defend women and their children actively.”
Eaton says her chapter is whipping up support for the U.S. bishops’ “Fortnight of Freedom” campaign, a 14-day period of prayer, education and action in support of religious freedom, from June 21-July 4.
“We’re going to ignite our California chapters to join us to pray, fast and maybe even go out on the street corners and hold a sign,” she said. “We’re called to be the John the Baptists of our world today. We don’t have the luxury of sitting in our comfortable homes. We are called to be ambassadors, to get out there and witness to the truth.”
“The conference once again proved a valuable experience for the attendees,” said conference director Laura Sacha. “It’s always a joy to spend time with members and I continue to be inspired by their continuing commitment to Legatus.”
Patrick Novecosky is Legatus magazine’s editor.