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Defending life from the moment of conception

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2016 SPUC Youth Conference Speakers: Part III

Posted by Rhoslyn Thomas on 9 February 2016

The 2016 Youth Conference (11-13th March) is an opportunity to hear from some truly inspirational pro-life speakers! Here we take a look at the final three on our programme:

Dr Philip Howard

Dr Philip Howard is a consultant physician with a special interest in gastroenterology (the study of the stomach/intestines).

He is the principal co-author of "Lecture Notes on Medical Law and Ethics" and has, as well as his work in medicine, qualifications in law and bioethics. A highly experienced medic who has lectured and campaigned on end-of-life issues, Dr Howard is also Chairman of the Joint Medical Ethics Committee of the Catholic Medical Association and the Catholic Union of Great Britain.

Liverpool Care Pathway

He has been a formidable campaigner against the Liverpool Care Pathway and has been heavily involved in opposing euthanasia legislation in Britain. Dr Howard is also a senior lecturer in healthcare ethics and has done much to educate medical students in this area.

An experienced speaker, he has addressed the Royal Society of Medicine, debated with pro-euthanasia spokespeople and addressed senior Catholic clergy from different countries.

As a physician with huge experience of helping the dying and defending the value of life both in theory and practice, Dr Philip Howard is uniquely qualified to talk on end-of-life issues from a variety of valuable perspectives.

Catherine MacMillan

Catherine discovered she was pregnant in the summer of 2009 when she was 18 years old. She had recently returned from a gap year in Africa and had a place at Glasgow university to study music, which would commence that September.

After getting over the initial shock of the pregnancy, in her 26th week of pregnancy, Catherine discovered that her unborn baby girl had some serious brain abnormalities. From her 27th week of pregnancy right up until her 35th week, Catherine was repeatedly put under pressure to abort her unborn baby by various medical staff.

Despite this pressure, Catherine clung to her pro-life beliefs and joyfully welcomed her daughter, Sara. Sara has a condition called Dandy Walker syndrome, which means three parts of her brain did not form correctly in the womb.

"The happiest child I have ever met"

"Despite all of her problems, Sara is by far the happiest child I have ever met," Catherine says. "Sara is incredibly sociable, always up for a party. She is so content with the life God has given her.

"Sara does not know life any differently. We might compare her to other children who don't have any problems, but she doesn't. It is clear to anyone who meets her that she is perfectly happy living that life, to the fullest of her abilities."

Tragically, Sara died very suddenly in early January, 2016. She is greatly missed by Catherine, her family and many other people whose lives she touched.

Jeffery Ventrella

Jeffery J. Ventrella, J.D., Ph.D., serves as senior counsel and senior vice president of Student Training and Development for Alliance Defending Freedom.

Since joining ADF in 2000, he has headed the ADF Blackstone Legal Fellowship, a unique legal internship program that has graduated more than 1,500 outstanding law students. Jeffery also leads the Alliance Defending Freedom Collegiate Academy, providing training for exceptional college upperclassmen and recent graduates on a path to future leadership in law, government, and public policy.

He regularly engages the culture through formal debates and serves as an approved speaker for The Federalist Society. Jeffery received his Ph.D. in church and state studies from Whitefield Theological Seminary.


He earned his J.D. from the University of California’s Hastings College of the Law and has practiced law since 1985. He is a member of the state bar of Idaho, and is also admitted to practice before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit, the U.S. District Court for the District of Idaho, and the U.S. Supreme Court.

Jeffery has testified before a Senate subcommittee concerning the proposed Federal Marriage Amendment and his professional writings have appeared in legal journals, law reviews, and periodicals, such as For the Defense as well as Christian publications such as Citizen Magazine, Fidelity, Penpoint, Christian Culture, Jubilee, Creation Answers, and New Horizons.

Personal life

As an adjunct instructor, Jeffery taught Ethics and Apologetics at the graduate seminary level. Jeffery is also a Distinguished Fellow of Law and Culture for the Center for Cultural Leadership and a Fellow with the Ezra Institute for Contemporary Christianity. His martial arts training achieved the rank of 2nd degree black belt, Tae Kwon-do.

Jeffery is married and with his wife, Heather, enjoys the challenge of rearing four very active boys and one beautiful daughter: Jefferson, Chandler, Kirklan, Jackson, and McKenzie.

This is the last in our three-part series on the upcoming Youth Conference - read all about the other exciting speakers in store by catching up on Part 1 and Part 2.

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