New Group: Harvard Law Students for Life

Written by Jane Riccardi, Students for Life’s New England Regional Coordinator

Last week, the newly founded Law Students for Life at Harvard Law School hosted Dr. Robert P. George, the McCormick Professor of Jurisprudence at Princeton University and Visiting Professor at Harvard Law School, for their inaugural event.  Dr. George’s lecture, “Are Human Embryos Human Beings?  Are They Persons?” was substantially attended by over one hundred Harvard students and faculty.  It is entirely fitting that the group’s first event should center on the question of human personhood, since the

question of whom the law protects underlies any study of jurisprudence.  Although the audience comprised of students from varying opinions on the topic, Dr. George’s remarks were received with respectful attention.  Chase Giacomo, a 2L and the president of the group, was pleased with the success of the event.  “Our group was very excited to see such a large turnout at our inaugural event with Dr. Robert George,” he remarked.  “We believe the event signifies a shift in momentum for the pro-life movement at Harvard Law School.”

This, the willingness to engage a difficult and controversial subject or at least to engage an uncomfortable idea in the spirit of supporting intellectual diversity, is exactly what the group hopes to achieve.  It is integral for prestigious schools such as Harvard Law to cultivate an environment conducive to productive, respectful, and engaging discussion.  To this end, the mission statement of the group is as follows:

“We aim to provide a community in which students can develop pro-life approaches to moral and legal questions, and to advocate for pro-life perspectives in the broader law school community. HLS Students for Life is dedicated to peacefully promoting its beliefs through education, discussion, community engagement, advocacy, and scholarship.”

Having only coalesced earlier this year, the group has already met with notable success in this mission, having already sparked conversation not only the immediate community, but with thinkers across diverse academic disciplines via the platform of the Harvard Law Record.  In a recent article in the Record, Anne Stark, a 1L and the VP of Communications for the group, writes:

“We think our society can and must do a better job of supporting pregnant women and mothers through generous maternity/paternity leave policies, pregnancy-related medical care, and financial support for low-income families. We should think deeply as a society about what we can do to further gender equality and to help women achieve their full potential professionally.  However, we do not think abortion is the answer to this problem. In fact, to say that it is begins with the wrong premise – that professional opportunity itself is a sufficient justification for abortion. Yet no one is free to do as they please to succeed professionally, untethered from countervailing moral restraints. Which leads to the foundational question that Dr. George addressed at our event: is the human embryo a human person? The answer to that question must weigh in our thinking about proper means to advance professionally. If the answer is yes, professional achievement cannot justify the taking of another’s life. That an embryo is a human person unequivocally answers the question of whether abortion is a proper means for women to advance their careers, but this does not mean that women are barred from success.”

It is highly cheering that this kind of intellectually well-rounded consideration of abortion is occurring at one of the nation’s top academic institutions.  I look forward to seeing how these students influence the conversation in the public square at Harvard.

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