University Faculty for Life Essay Contest 2015

University Faculty for Life is now accepting submissions from college and university students for its Scholarly Achievement Award in Creative Writing, Literary Criticism, or Research.

Guidelines for the contest and a one-page flyer are available and will eventually be posted at  Email for the flyer and complete contest rules.

Although the deadline for the 2015 contest is Saturday, 16 May 2015, please encourage college and university students to consider submitting their work now. Three reminders will be emailed at appropriate intervals during the balance of this academic year (15 November, 1 February, and 30 April).

High school essay scholarship contest

Some of you may be involved with high school pro life groups.  If so, you may be interested in the contest being co-sponsored by the Canadian newspaper, The Interim, and by the Niagara Region Right to Life. The Fr. Ted Colleton Scholarship awards $1500, $800, or $500 (Canadian) to the high school junior or senior who writes the best essays on the topic of the application of Hans Christian Anderson’s story, “The Emperors New Clothes,” to the abortion debate. More details can be found in this LifeSiteNews article.

Law, Religion, and American Healthcare conference at Harvard

Law, Religion, and American Healthcare

May 8 – 9, 2015

Wasserstein Hall, Milstein East BC
1585 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge, MA

The Petrie-Flom Center for Health Law Policy, Biotechnology, and Bioethics at Harvard Law School is pleased to announce plans for our 2015 annual conference, this year entitled: “Law, Religion, and American Health Care.”

Conference Description

Religion and medicine have historically gone hand in hand, but increasingly have come into conflict in the U.S. as health care has become both more secular and more heavily regulated.  Law has a dual role here, simultaneously generating conflict between religion and health care, for example through new coverage mandates or legally permissible medical interventions that violate religious norms, while also acting as a tool for religious accommodation and protection of conscience.

This conference, and anticipated edited volume, will aim to: (1) identify the various ways in which law intersects with religion and health care in the United States; (2) understand the role of law in creating or mediating conflict between religion and health care; and (3) explore potential legal solutions to allow religion and health care to simultaneously flourish in a culturally diverse nation.

Call for Abstracts

We welcome submissions on both broad conceptual questions and more specific policy issues.  Potential topics might include:

  • Analysis of the First Amendment, the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, and other federal, state, and local legal provisions that come into play at the intersection between religion and health care
  • The Affordable Care Act and employer-based health care coverage, including the contraceptives mandate and related court decisions
  • Legal obligations and accommodations of religious health care organizations
  • Protection (or not) of health professional conscience
  • Health care decision-making for minors with religious parents
  • Religious objection v. discriminatory behavior
  • Informed consent and information flow, e.g., religious objection to providing certain information, inclusion of religious information in consent disclosures, etc.
  • “Medicalization” of religious beliefs, e.g., regulation of homosexual conversion therapy
  • Abortion policy, including clinic protests and protections, and its relationship to religion
  • Embryonic stem cell policy and its relationship to religion
  • End-of-life care, including assisted suicide, and its relationship to religion
  • Complicity as both a legal and religious concept
  • Comparative analysis, e.g., between professions, health care practices, countries, etc.

Please note that this list is not meant to be exhaustive; we hope to receive abstracts related to the conference’s general theme even if a particular topic was not specifically listed here.  However, proposals that lack a clear linkage toall three aspects of the conference – law, religion, and health care – will not be considered.  Law will be treated broadly to include governmental policy decisions more generally.   Abstracts must propose or outline an argument/position, rather than merely stating a topic, in order to enable us to evaluate them.

In an effort to encourage interdisciplinary and international dialogue, we welcome submissions from legal scholars and lawyers, of course, but also from bioethicists, philosophers, scholars of religion and religious studies, clinicians, government officials and staff, international scholars and regulators discussing how their systems have handled these issues, and others who have a meaningful contribution to make on this topic.  We welcome submissions from advocacy organizations, think tanks, and others outside academia, but emphasize that this is a scholarly conference, and abstracts/papers will be held to academic standards of argumentation and support.

How to Participate

If you are interested in participating, please send a 1-page abstract of the paper you would plan to present to as soon as possible, but not later than December 1, 2014.   If your abstract is selected, your final paper will be due on April 3, 2015, and you will be assigned a presentation slot for the conference dates.  Please note that presenters are expected to attend the conference for its full duration.  We will pay travel expenses for presenters who must travel to Cambridge; co-authored papers must name a single presenter.

In the past, we have successfully turned several of our conferences into edited volumes (e.g., with Oxford, MIT, Columbia, and Johns Hopkins University presses). If such a volume arises out of this conference, our expectation is that conference presenters will publish their papers with us as part of the edited volume.  Those who do not wish their work to appear in a potential edited volume should so indicate on the abstract. We will accept conference papers of all lengths and styles (e.g., law review, medical, philosophy, or policy journal, etc.), but chapters in conference volumes are generally limited to about 5,000 words.  Previous conference participants have been able to publish their submissions in different formats in multiple venues, for example both as a short book chapter and a longer law review article.

How to Register

Registration information is available here.  Attendance is free and open to the public, but space is limited.


Please contact Holly Fernandez Lynch, Executive Director, Petrie-Flom Center, with any, 617.384.5475.


HT Teresa Collett

“The Disappearing ‘Undue Burden’ Standard for Abortion Rights”

That’s the title of a recent comment by Jeffrey Toobin in the New Yorker. See

Toobin describes the “undue burden” standard as the Justice O’Connor’s “most important triumph during her long and consequential tenure on the U.S. Supreme Court” and laments the prospect of the test’s impending demise.  Toobin wrongly states that O’Connor’s views roughly mirrored those of most Americans.  As Clarke Forsythe pointed out in his book on Roe v. Wade: “What makes abortion uniquely controversial is that the Justices have sided with a small sect–7 percent of Americans–who support abortion for any reason at any time. And the Justices have for forty years prevented the 60-70 percent of Americans in the middle from deciding differently. The conflict between public opinion and the Supreme Court’s nationwide policy is one key reason why Roe is uniquely controversial.”

Toobin focuses on the increasing number of state restrictions on abortion and notes, in particular, the Texas law requiring that abortions be performed in ambulatory surgical centers that was recently considered by the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit. See

Toobin speculates about how the U.S Supreme Court will treat this law and ends with this question: “O’Connor has been gone from the Supreme Court for nearly a decade. The question, now, is whether her great achievement will soon be gone, too.”

We can only hope.

Richard M.

amicus brief filed by pro-life organizations in pregnancy discrimination case

Here is a link to a good post by Tom Berg about an amicus brief filed by pro-life organizations in an important case involving pregnancy discrimination. University Faculty for Life was one of the pro-life organizations that joined the brief. Counsel included UFL President Teresa Collett. Tom Berg’s post contains a link to the brief.

Here’s a bit from Tom’s post–

“The case raises an important issue concerning the effectiveness of the PDA’s protection for pregnant employees, since many employers make accommodations for some but not all employees with physical limitations.  The pro-life organizations’ brief argues that pregnancy should be treated as well as conditions the employer deems important enough to accommodate, not as poorly as conditions the employer refuses to accommodate.  The brief points to the background of the PDA, which had support in 1978 from pro-life groups and pro-life members of Congress.  Their rationale was that protecting pregnant women from discrimination reduced pressure on economically vulnerable women to abort their children, and strengthens the fundamental right to bear children and raise a family.  The brief makes those arguments as well.”

Richard M.


UFL in the Fellowship of Catholic Scholars proceedings

I just received in the mail the proceedings from the 2013 convention of the Fellowship of Catholic Scholars, Freedom and the Moral Law, held in Philadelphica, PA.  It contained pieces by three UFL members: “HHS Mandate Litigation: A Supreme Court Showdown in the Making,” by William Saunders; “Exploring the Christological Nexus between the Ascetical Life and the Moral Life,” by Rev. Thomas V. Berg; and “Veritatis Splendor: A Prototype of Renewed Moral Theology,” by Rev. John J. Conley, S.J.