Abortion Conferences Constitutionality Sex-selection abortion University Faculty for Life

Roe at 40 conference

On November 7-8, 2013, Washington & Lee University School of Law hosted a conference marking the 40th anniversary of Roe v. Wade. The conference, Roe at 40: The Controversy Continues,,  was largely organized by Sam Calhoun (a member of the UFL Board). The conference was co-sponsored by University Faculty for Life, ACLU of Virginia, Virginia NOW, the Frances Lewis Law Center, the Washington and Lee Law Review, and the Provost’s Office of Washington and Lee University.

The conference was unusual in that a variety of perspectives on abortion were included. The speakers were (in order of appearance): Clarke Forsythe, David Garrow, Sam Calhoun, Mary Zeigler, Richard Myers, Priscilla Smith, Tom Molony, Caroline Mala Corbin, Teresa Collett, Kathy Greenier, Randy Beck, Caitlin Borgman, Michael Paulsen, Maya Manian, Lynne Marie Kohm, Robin Wilson/Ryan Hrobak, and James Mahon. The papers from the conference will be published by the Washington and Lee Law Review.

The conference was quite interesting. I know all of the attendees greatly appreciated the hospitality of Sam Calhoun and everyone at Washington and Lee. The inclusion of diverse perspectives led to some contentious exchanges. I thought one of the fascinating aspects of the conference was the efforts of the supporters of abortion rights to deal with the issue of sex-selection abortion. One response, which revealed how extreme the law is in this country, was that the state can’t ever second guess a woman’s reason to have an abortion at any time during pregnancy. Another response indicated that these abortions didn’t really constitute sex discrimination against girls because until birth these were only potential girls.

This issue–sex-selection abortion–reveals (as do abortions for reason of disability) that the most important principle for supporters of abortion rights is not equality. The governing principle is the autonomous power to make life and death decisons about another human life.

Richard M.


Richard Myers

Richard S. Myers, the Vice-President of UFL, is Professor of Law at Ave Maria School of Law, where he teaches Antitrust, Civil Procedure, Conflict of Laws, Constitutional Law, and Religious Freedom. He is a Phi Beta Kappa graduate of Kenyon College and earned his law degree at Notre Dame, where he won the law school's highest academic prize. He began his legal career by clerking for Judge John F. Kilkenny of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. Professor Myers also worked for Jones, Day, Reavis & Pogue in Washington, D.C. He taught at Case Western Reserve University School of Law and the University of Detroit Mercy School of Law before joining the Ave Maria faculty. He is a co-editor of St. Thomas Aquinas and the Natural Law Tradition: Contemporary Perspectives (Catholic University of American Press, 2004) and a co-editor of Encyclopedia of Catholic Social Thought, Social Science, and Social Policy (Scarecrow Press, 2007). He has also published extensively on constitutional law in law reviews and also testified before Congressional and state legislative hearings on life issues. Married to Mollie Murphy, who is also on the faculty at Ave Maria School of Law, they are the proud parents of six children - Michael, Patrick, Clare, Kathleen, Matthew, and Andrew.