Vita et Veritas
By Luke Brown, Dartmouth ’18
Yale students are seeking to change the moral, cultural, and political landscape surrounding abortion on their campus and beyond.
Through Vita et Veritas, a pro-life conference in its seventh year, the student organizers from Choose Life at Yale (CLAY) aimed to provide a venue for thoughtful, productive, and nonpartisan discussion of the abortion issue and its broader implications for scholars, activists, and students. CLAY members “believe the right to life is fundamental, and we design our conference to help and inspire others to advocate for the lives of the unborn,” according to its website.
This year’s conference, held on September 27-28 in New Haven, Connecticut, was titled, “Alternatives to Abortion.” Organizers desired to confront the prevailing stereotypes that align abortion rights as inseparable from proper healthcare, family planning, and the protection of women’s rights. Taking note of the recent trends in media surrounding abortion, the conference focused on the social indicators of abortion and pro-life responses to the issues surrounding foster care, adoption, and poverty.
Vita et Veritas opened with a banquet and keynote address from Kailee Perrin titled, “Why I Choose Life.” Perrin’s impactful message was inspired by her own experience with an unplanned teen pregnancy. A crisis pregnancy center provided her with support to seek an alternative to abortion. The need for providing life-giving resources for women with unplanned pregnancies was a focus throughout the weekend.
The two-day conference featured several speakers—all women of tremendous experience, articulation, and intellect. Speakers included: Abigail Young (Students for Life of America), Charity Farrar (Life Choices Medical Clinic), and Jannique Stewart (Love Protects).
Another unique talk featured a conversation between two women on different sides of the abortion issue: Julia Hejduk, a professor of Classics at Baylor University, who is pro-life; and Michelle Oberman, a professor of law at Santa Clara University, who is pro-abortion. The professors addressed the unnecessary malice held between many people on different sides of issues, including abortion, in our modern culture.
The students from CLAY said hosting this event at Yale was especially important and apropos. Yale University labs are known to use fetal stem cell tissue and the local New Haven Hospital performs abortions. Additionally, the students’ tuition covers a health care plan that includes abortion options. In such a culture deluged with pro-abortion advocacy and assumptions, Vita et Veritas provided a much needed platform for the pro-life movement.
While the Yale community has the highest representation at the conference, Vita et Veritas has also grown to include members from other community and student organizations throughout the Northeast.
During the weekend, students and other attendees not only had a chance to learn from excellent speakers, they also connected with each other. Indeed, the student organizers of Vita et Veritas wanted to bolster strong connections within the pro-life community.
Vienna Scott, one of the organizers, said her organization was hopeful “that the speakers and student community [would] leave with connections to each other, concrete ideas for their student groups moving forward, a broader view of what the pro-life position offers to current dialogue, and the ability to articulate more robust defenses of their pro-life beliefs.”
With its seventh annual Vita et Veritas conference, the students certainly accomplished their goal of “contributing to a culture of life on campus and beyond.”