Friday, 12 April 2013

SPUC Youth Conference 2013: The report

Many thanks to the young adults, SPUC staff, and speakers for making this year's youth conference a very good occasion of friendship and formation. The weekend began on Friday at 4pm with registration, and numerous calls and texts from stranded groups all over the UK due to the very heavy snow. Some groups arrived later in the evening, whilst two groups from Scotland got as far as Manchester, stayed over at a hotel, and finished off the journey the next day. Good effort!

Picturesque Hayes conference centre covered in snow
Almost all of our delegates made it!
Friday afternoon meet and greet as people arrived
Anthony McCarthy, SPUC's education and publications manager, introduced the conference. One of Anthony's key messages was a paraphrase of the philosopher Aristotle: "a small error in the beginning leads to a bigger error later on". Anthony reminded attendees that the conference was there for their benefit, and the importance that SPUC attaches to the nurturing and support of young adult prolifers. He also said it was important to understand the philosophical and practical links between various prolife concerns.

Anthony McCarthy introducing the conference
Below is a photo of Anthony McCarthy introducing our first speaker, Ira Winter. Ira is a nurse and NapPro Technology practitioner. She works full time at Life fertility Care, providing couples with natural family planning and fertility education and help. Ira also spoke about the need for good medicine that addresses the underlying causes of fertility problems, rather than the ready recourse to hormonal pills and IVF.

Ira Winter waiting to give her presentation
Dr. Helen Watt of the Anscombe Bioethics Centre in Oxford spoke about pregnancy and the ethical nature of medical practises used when complications arise, such as ectopic pregnancy and the induction of pre-viable babies. This has been an important issue recently in the context of the death of Savita in Ireland. SPUC has taken a clear line on this matter.

Ira speaking about the loss of surgery skills for fertility and pregnancy
Dr. Watt speaking on the ethics of pregnancy

Panel discussion with Anthony, Ira, and Helen.
This year we asked a young prolifer and artist called Therese to design a new SPUC youth conference logo. Below is the final version. Therese very kindly sent us several versions and this one was picked for the conference. Unfortunately Therese and some of her family were unable to join us because of heavy snow and road closures.

The Logo

Peter Smith, SPUC's full-time lobbyist at the United Nations in New York, spoke briefly about his work at the UN, previous interns who had worked for him, and set out the internship opportunity he was offering to SPUC youth conference delegates.

Peter Smith, SPUC UN lobbyist
Peter with sucessful applicants for the SPUC UN internship 2013 and 2014
Fiorella Nash, a researcher for SPUC, gave a presentation on maternal health and mortality and the need for a prolife response. Fiorella began her presentation with some nice photos of her children, the newest of whom she brought along to the conference, to the delight of all.

Fiorella spoke the need for a prolife response to difficult pregnancies
Fiorella shows the audience as photo her newest child Natalia Evangelina
Dr. Lisa Nolland was our next speaker, on the effects of Sex education. Dr. Nolland offered delegates a very useful presentation that included excellent quotes and clips from music videos to show the bad effects that can come about when we have false notions about love, relationships, and human sexuality.

Below are also some photos of Anthony Ozimic, SPUC communications manager, who spoke about SPUC's history, campaigns, and points to remember for the future of the prolife movement in the UK at the culture and political level. 

Dr. Lisa Nolland giving her presentation

Anthony Ozimic speaking about SPUC's work
A vision for the present and the future - cultural and political 
UN lobbyist Peter Smith, Dr. Philip Howard, and Professor Patrick Pullicino
Barrister James Bogle talking about euthanasia
After a short tea break we heard from Barrister James Bogle, who talked about the state of the law concerning euthanasia and it's relation to current medical practise.

SPUC was very fortunate to have Professor Patrick Pullicino, professor of Clinical Neuroscience and Consultant Neurologist in the East Kent Hospitals Trust, speak about the dangers of the Liverpool Care Pathway (LCP). Prof. Pullicino is renowned for speaking out against the LCP and how it is being used as a "death pathway" for ill patients. Prof. Pullicino talked about the lack of evidence-based medicine in this regard, the difficulty of trying to predict death, and the financial incentives being offered to NHS trusts to get patients on the LCP.

Prof. Pullicino giving his presentation
Another tea break - time to chat and briefly discuss the talks
Following the tea breaks we had panel Q&A sessions
The most important aspect of the conference was of course the presentations, but it wasn't all talks and brain work. There was plenty of time to relax - we watched dystopian thriller Soylent Green on Friday evening, a great ceilidh on Saturday night, plenty of time for a drink in the bar, and plenty of snow for making snowmen or having a snow fight.

The Saturday night ceilidh
The band and MC leading the dancing

Merciless! This young man shall remain nameless :-)
Snowman abandoned for a wrestling match
The conference has finished, but it needs to be seen more as a start. The dignity of human life from conception to natural death continues to be undermined, denied, distorted, and attacked. There is an urgent need for more young adults to take a lead and do something to bring the prolife message to the public.

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