Med and Law Students Team-Up to Host 20-Week Abortion Ban Panel: By David Cordaro, Upper Midwest Regional Coordinator
In mid-November, Northwestern University students hosted a panel discussion on the controversial 20-week ban titled “What is Life at 20 Weeks?” The event, co-hosted by Northwestern’s Pritzker School of Law Students for Life and Feinburg School of Medicine Catholic Medical Association, drew over 50 students of multiple disciplines and identities.
Moderated by Joseph Hawkins, a third-year law student, the panel was composed of Dr. Colleen A. Malloy, MD, and Professor Stephen Presser.
Dr. Colleen A. Malloy, MD, is a neonatologist at Lurie Children’s Hospital in Chicago. She has testified before Congress in both May 2012 and March 2016 on issues related to the 20-week abortion ban. She presented facts and findings through her own research and research of colleagues to defend human life, and argued that with advancements in neonatology and perinatal medicine, the gestational age at which a neonate can be resuscitated and resuscitated successfully has been pushed back, and will only continue to do so.
Presser, a leading American legal historian, is frequently invited to witness before committees of the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives on issues regarding constitutional law. He authored the book Recapturing the Constitution: Race, Religion, and Abortion Reconsidered, which “claims that our wayward courts are partly responsible for our current societal ills and calls for a moral and cultural renewal by turning back to our Framers' understanding of law and society” (Google Books). He presented on the history and jurisprudence regarding the abortion debate, and provided his theories on the outlook of abortion in the United States.
The event, which only lasted an hour, provided valuable information from both the legal and medical sides of the anti-abortion argument. One of the students in attendance, Cody Gaffney, a third-year law student, was surprised the medical side of the argument was so solid.
“As a law student, I knew that the legal argument for a constitutional right to an elective abortion is weak, but I was surprised to learn that the medical case for a 20-week abortion ban is so strong. We need more interdisciplinary legal and medicinal dialogue to bring these issues to the fore.”
The moderator, and President of Northwestern University Law Students for Life, Joseph, was very pleased with the event, and although there were students on both sides of the issue in attendance, he felt they left the event learning valuable lessons.
“This was a big benefit of having a conversation across the disciplines: seeing an old debate in a new way with a fresh voice.”
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