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The 2016 Youth Conference was a resounding success

Posted by Anthony McCarthy on 18 March 2016

Some of the delegates who travelled to hear inspirational speakers and take part in dynamic workshops over the course of a fully pro-life weekend

Last weekend the SPUC Youth Conference 2016 took place in beautiful surroundings at the High Leigh Conference Centre in Hoddesdon, Hertfordshire.

Nearly 200 young people helped to continue the success of these conferences which have brought together inspiring speakers and committed activists as well as those wishing to find out what it means to be pro-life.

This year the conference was fortunate enough to have some truly memorable speakers, who helped to remind those gathered that the weakest and most vulnerable members of our society must be properly defended in ways which do not suggest that they can be cast aside 'for the greater good'.

Obianuju Ekeocha (Uju) from Culture of Life Africa

Uju, Clare & Colin

Opening the conference was Obianuju Ekeocha (Uju) from Culture of Life Africa. Her talks addressed the situation in Africa and the cultural differences in pro-life perceptions between that continent and much of the West. Examining the way in which international abortion-promoting organisations operate in the Continent and how they co-operate with endemic corruption so as to gain footholds in countries with populations broadly pro-life, Uju presented much-needed encouragement and information for those concerned with the wider prolife fight.

Clare McCullough of the Good Counsel Network provided valuable insight into the work done by GCN – work that has produced incredible results. With personal testimony and plenty of babies born who otherwise would have been 'terminated', Clare's talk made clear the huge difference this witness and practical help makes not just to those directly involved but also to society as a whole. The audience appreciated learning what is actually going on in the streets and GCN brings people to appreciation of a prolife culture that is not a mere blueprint.

Dr Colin Harte, author of Changing Unjust Laws Justly argued passionately for pro-lifers to remember when seeking to effect legislation not to sacrifice the most vulnerable/difficult cases, for in doing so one not only betrays them - a wrong in itself - but also defeats the purpose of ending a culture of death. Quoting words from Alison Davis, whom he cared for for many years, Dr Harte underlined that the core of the pro-life message must always be about those who have the very least protection. Forget or minimise them and no good can come of it.

Dr Philip reminded the audience of the overwhelming defeat of the recent Marris Assisted Dying Bill

Gabriele, Philip & Jeffrey

Gabriele Kuby of Germany and author of The Global Sexual Revolution and the Assault on Freedom and Family, spoke powerfully on the connection between the 'gender revolution' and the culture of death. By redefining what it means to be a man and a woman certain powerful ideologies, backed by UN and EU bodies, have not only weakened institutional  support for the traditional family but have actively undermined the very institution naturally found to protect the weakest and most vulnerable members of any society.

Dr Philip Howard, a consultant physician and author on medical ethics, spoke on end-of-life issues, an area where he has much medical experience. While examining the situation regarding assisted suicide and euthanasia Dr Howard presented recent findings from Belgium and Holland where such killing has spread in recent years. With regard to England Dr Howard noted the effects of the Liverpool Care Pathway and current concerns in this area, as well as giving hope to the audience by analysing the overwhelming defeat of the recent Marris Assisted Dying Bill.

Dr Jeffrey Ventrella of the Alliance Defending Freedom presented students with a picture of the legal situation in Europe in relation to life and family issues and reminded students about what laws actually says as opposed to what certain groups claims those laws permit. Focussing on some case studies Dr Ventrellla made clear that great sacrifices need to be made in the pro-life battle for truth to prevail and addressed some of the underlying philosophies implicit in the actions of those who seek to shut down debate of abortion and the right to life.

Fiorella, SPUC researcher and award-winning novelist, seen here signing one of her books

Fiorella, Bobby & Catherine

Fiorella Nash, a writer who works for SPUC, addressed the topic of sex-selective abortion - 'Gendercide' - and in so doing exposed the fallacies of certain self-described feminists prepared to turn a blind eye to this outrage. In tackling this difficult subject she examined how such 'pro-choice' feminists give tacit support to cultural practices which demean and destroy women and girls.

Also speaking were Bobby Schindler, brother of the late Terri Schiavo, and Catherine MacMillan. These two stunning speeches, relating powerful personal testimony about the pressures faced by those who seek to protect the most vulnerable, will soon be available on video, as will those described above and there will be an entry on Catherine’s talk along with it.

Closing address & workshops

John Smeaton, SPUC’s chief executive, visibly moved reminded delegates of the battles ahead and of the grave threats to the pro-life cause at many different levels and in many different institutions.

Workshops on the great work being done in Scotland by Abortion Recovery Care and Helpline (ARCH) and other initiatives, on the philosophical links between gender ideology and abortion and abortion counselling were enjoyed by the delegates, as well as social events.

Conference delegates enjoy a drink and a chat between talks and workshops

A special occasion

This year's SPUC Youth conference was special. Special because of the extraordinary personal testimonies on offer this year (which we will post further on), but also because the combination of inspiration and information left delegates ready to go out and do more. Being pro-life is not just about attending conferences, but in order to have the strength to fight what sometimes may seem a thankless battle, they can give people renewed energy and belief.

So we at SPUC would like to thank, aside from all the speakers, the delegates who helped turn this into an event which will be remembered for a long time to come.

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