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Defending life from the moment of conception

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SPUC Youth Conference 2013: The report

Posted by Dan Blackman on 12 April 2013

Many thanks to the young adults, SPUC staff, and speakers for making this year's youth conference a very good occasion of friendship and formation. The weekend began on Friday at 4pm with registration, and numerous calls and texts from stranded groups all over the UK due to the very heavy snow.

Some groups arrived later in the evening, whilst two groups from Scotland got as far as Manchester, stayed over at a hotel, and finished off the journey the next day. Good effort!

Anthony McCarthy, SPUC's education and publications manager, introduced the conference. One of Anthony's key messages was a paraphrase of the philosopher Aristotle: "a small error in the beginning leads to a bigger error later on". Anthony reminded attendees that the conference was there for their benefit, and the importance that SPUC attaches to the nurturing and support of young adult pro-lifers. He also said it was important to understand the philosophical and practical links between various pro-life concerns.

Ira Winter & Dr Helen Watt

Our first speaker was Ira Winter. Ira is a nurse and NapPro Technology practitioner. She works full time at Life fertility Care, providing couples with natural family planning and fertility education and help. Ira also spoke about the need for good medicine that addresses the underlying causes of fertility problems, rather than the ready recourse to hormonal pills and IVF.

Dr Helen Watt of the Anscombe Bioethics Centre in Oxford spoke about pregnancy and the ethical nature of medical practises used when complications arise, such as ectopic pregnancy and the induction of pre-viable babies. This has been an important issue recently in the context of the death of Savita in Ireland. SPUC has taken a clear line on this matter.

This year we asked a young pro-lifer and artist called Therese to design a new SPUC youth conference logo, which you can see in the picture above. Unfortunately Therese and some of her family were unable to join us because of heavy snow and road closures.

Peter Smith, Fiorella Nash & Dr Lisa Nolland

Peter Smith, SPUC's full-time lobbyist at the United Nations in New York, spoke briefly about his work at the UN, previous interns who had worked for him, and set out the internship opportunity he was offering to SPUC youth conference delegates.

Fiorella Nash, a researcher for SPUC, gave a presentation on maternal health and mortality and the need for a pro-life response. Fiorella began her presentation with some nice photos of her children, the newest of whom she brought along to the conference, to the delight of all.

Dr Lisa Nolland was our next speaker, on the effects of sex education. Dr Nolland offered delegates a very useful presentation that included excellent quotes and clips from music videos to show the bad effects that can come about when we have false notions about love, relationships, and human sexuality.

Anthony Ozimic & Jamie Bogle

Anthony Ozimic, SPUC communications manager, also spoke about SPUC's history, campaigns, and points to remember for the future of the pro-life movement in the UK at the culture and political level.

After a short tea break we heard from barrister James Bogle, who talked about the state of the law concerning euthanasia and its relation to current medical practise.

SPUC was very fortunate to have Professor Patrick Pullicino, professor of Clinical Neuroscience and Consultant Neurologist in the East Kent Hospitals Trust, speak about the dangers of the Liverpool Care Pathway (LCP). Prof Pullicino is renowned for speaking out against the LCP and how it is being used as a "death pathway" for ill patients. Prof Pullicino talked about the lack of evidence-based medicine in this regard, the difficulty of trying to predict death, and the financial incentives being offered to NHS trusts to get patients on the LCP.

The most important aspect of the conference was of course the presentations, but it wasn't all talks and brain work. There was plenty of time to relax - we watched dystopian thriller Soylent Green on Friday evening, a great ceilidh on Saturday night, plenty of time for a drink in the bar, and plenty of snow for making snowmen or having a snow fight.

The conference has finished, but it needs to be seen more as a start. The dignity of human life from conception to natural death continues to be undermined, denied, distorted, and attacked. There is an urgent need for more young adults to take a lead and do something to bring the pro-life message to the public.

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