Charles Nailen/The Hoya Dr. Mildred Jefferson, president of the National Right to Life Crusade, Inc., spoke at the Cardinal O’Connor Right to Life Conference in Gaston Hall Tuesday.

Georgetown University’s chapter of Right to Life hosted the Cardinal O’Connor Conference on Life in Gaston Hall on Tuesday, featuring a keynote address by Dr. Mildred Jefferson, president of the National Right to Life Crusade, Inc.

Members of Right to Life and the Knights of Columbus attended the Right to Life rally at the Washington Monument downtown Wednesday. Tuesday’s conference and Wednesday’s Right to Life march marked the 30th anniversary of the Roe v. Wade decision that legalized abortion nationwide.

“The goals and objectives of people at the Georgetown conference and the national march were to show people that lots of people do believe in life issues and that life issues are important to us,” Chris Jenner (COL ’03), the director of the O’Connor Conference, said. “We want people to see the real goals to reduce the number of abortions in the U.S.” Jenner said an estimated 100,000 abortion rights opponents attended the rally downtown.

Jefferson said she hoped to see an increased presence in abortion-rights opponent activity on college campuses.

“If I had my way, there would be a pro-life group on every college campus here in the United States and in its territories,” Jefferson said to the group of 250 students and abortion-rights opponents. “In the meanwhile, I hope that wherever you have a department of women’s studies or black studies that you will have a corresponding pro-life movement.”

“There should also be the understanding that if we are to thrive as a nation and as a people, we have to understand that we cannot forfeit the future of the human family and the survival of our nation as a people by giving that very private right, the right to decide who will live and who will die,” Jefferson said.

Jefferson defended the involvement of abortion-rights opponents in what might be perceived as a personal matter. “Why should we be interfering with anyone’s very personal and private decision? Why on earth can’t we go along and mind our own business, and leave it to whomever to do whatever they want if it is a matter of their personal choice?” Jefferson said. “In order to live together as an organized society, we enter into a covenant, and in that covenant there are choices that we allow and there are other choices that must be refused. And to allow one to choose one what one wants to do just because one can get away with it is a means of creating social anarchy and that opens the door to the destruction of our society.”

Jefferson also explained her duty as a doctor to oppose abortion.

“The Hippocratic oath represented a point at which the killing and curing function of the doctor was separated, and the society was obliged not to ask the doctors to kill,” she said. “I know if I do not exercise my right as a physician to say `no,’ and effectively and as often as I can, then maybe my silence will be interpreted as consent. And I do not want at any point, or any level, [to think] that I may be helping human lives be killed because of my inaction.”

Jefferson said that the Nov. 2002 elections mobilized abortion-rights advocates to employ market tactics that amounted to “one of the most fraudulent campaigns perpetrated on the American public.”

“We do not have to accept the propaganda that is created and the very effective marketing to the general public,” she said. “There is alarm on the part of our adversaries [because] there is a very strong possibility that the doors will be closed just a little bit more to the willful destruction of the infant, when the partial-birth abortion act is passed by Congress and signed into law by the President.”

In commemoration of the anniversary of the high court’s decision, the Feminist Majority Foundation sponsored the “Never Go Back” Student Leadership Conference on Wednesday and Thursday, anticipating a possible reversal of the Roe v. Wade decision.

The conference included visits to congressional offices on Capitol Hill. “Once there, student leaders met with members of Congress and staff to show their support for reproductive rights,” Hania Luna (COL ’06), a member of H*yas for Choice, said. “Other activities included a candlelight vigil Wednesday night at the Supreme Court and an interfaith reception.”

Prominent leaders in the women’s movement spoke at the conference, including Eleanor Smeal, President of Feminist Majority Foundation; Gloria Feldt, President of Planned Parenthood; Kate ichelman, President of NARAL; and Dr. Jane Smith, of Business and Professional Women.

“After the conference, students then returned to their college campuses and pro-choice organizations to start the real task: fighting for a woman’s reproductive right and preventing the Supreme Court from overturning Roe v. Wade,” Luna said. “Overturning the decision would mean returning to the black-and-white days of back-alley abortions that resulted in the deaths of thousands of women every year.”

Jefferson, the first African-American woman to graduate from Harvard Medical School, served as a Fellow in Fractures at the Shortell Unit of Boston City Hospital and held an elected membership in the Boston Surgical Society. She served three terms as President of the National Right to Life Committee and was Republican senatorial nominee in 1982, 1990 and 1994.

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