Notre Dame University Faculty for Life sponsors pregnancy resources presentation, promotes respect for life


Notre Dame’s chapter of University Faculty for Life (UFL) will host a presentation on September 25 to inform faculty about the multitude of resources on and near campus for pregnant and parenting students.  Co-sponsored by Notre Dame Right to Life, speakers are Karen Kennedy, Senior Advisor to the Vice-President for Student Affairs; Jenny Hunsberger, a counselor at the nearby Women’s Care Center in South Bend; and Jessica Keating, Director of the Office of Human Dignity and Life Initiatives.

Although the September 25 event will focus on preventing abortion, UFL covers a broad spectrum of life issues.  Founded in 1989, UFL is a national, non-denominational group that seeks to be a forum for the academic community to discuss the issues of abortion, euthanasia, and infanticide through promoting research, dialogue, and publication by faculty.

Questions often arise about Notre Dame’s ability to balance du Lac’s prohibition of premarital sex and its mission as a Catholic institution to promote the sanctity of life.  Gerard Bradley, Professor of Law and President of Notre Dame UFL, discussed this misconception with the Rover: “[E]very year a substantial (but impossible to state exactly) number of our students get pregnant.  The widespread perception among them is that there is little help available to them, and that having and raising a child while staying on course for a Notre Dame degree is practically impossible.  This perception is mistaken.”

Students will not face disciplinary actions as a result of pregnancy; rather, the university will provide the full support and accommodations necessary to help students finish their studies.  As a Catholic institution, Notre Dame is committed to providing resources that support students in choosing life.

Bradley explained the goal of the event, which is “meant to begin the process of replacing myth with truth, and to do so by equipping faculty to serve as knowledgeable mentors to students who confide in them.  We think that helping our students to make this choice for life is one of our responsibilities as members of the Notre Dame family.”

In addition to the opening pregnancy resources presentation, Notre Dame UFL has several other events planned for the year, such as a lecture series on end-of-life issues.  On November 5, John Keown, the Rose F. Kennedy Chair in Christian Ethics at Georgetown University and a Visiting Senior Fellow at Notre Dame’s Center for Ethics and Culture, will deliver the first lecture, entitled “Euthanasia: An International Perspective.”

While Notre Dame has several divisions and organizations with pro-life tenets, such as the Office for Human Dignity and Life Initiatives, the Center for Ethics and Culture, and the student club Notre Dame Right to Life, UFL is unique in that it is a faculty-only organization.  Therefore, it occupies a distinct place in the Notre Dame community and bears a significant responsibility in fostering dialogue about life issues.

Father Bill Miscamble, CSC, the chaplain for the Notre Dame chapter of UFL, explained to the Rover that the group “seek[s] to collaborate with the students of [Notre Dame Right to Life] in promoting the cause of life.  By our working together, faculty, staff and students can assist Notre Dame to live up to its mission as a Catholic university.”

Having pro-life faculty members is essential to upholding Notre Dame’s Catholic identity, and UFL provides a necessary link between administration, faculty, and students seeking to manifest this Catholic identity through promoting life initiatives.

Although Notre Dame is home to one of the larger UFL chapters, it nevertheless seeks to attract new membership, for which administrative support is requisite.  Bradley remarks that “it is crucially important that the group be visible, large, well-respected at Notre Dame, and that it be strongly encouraged by the various colleges’ leaders and the University officers.  For if the leadership of the nation’s flagship Catholic institution is not enthusiastically behind its faculty dedicated to the cause of life, then Notre Dame has put its light under a bushel.”

By empowering faculty on campus to be leaders in promoting respect for life, UFL plays a vital role in affirming Notre Dame’s institutional mission to respect the sanctity of life and the dignity of the human person.

Stephanie Reuter is a freshman living in Welsh Family Hall.  She hails from New Orleans, LA, so she’s discovering for the first time the autumnal phenomenon of leaves changing colors.  Contact her with comments or advice for handling the upcoming winter in the South Bend tundra at