Conference to feature dialogue on abortion

Sept. 22, 2010, 5:11 p.m.

An unprecedented meeting for 450 people involved on all sides of the abortion debate will take place Friday and Saturday, Oct. 15-16, where ideas will be exchanged with 45 top scholars, lawyers and abortion policy experts and vigorous but civil discussion and debate will be engaged on the current controversies in abortion.

The conference was inspired by President Obama’s speech at Notre Dame in May 2009 calling for “Open hearts, open minds, and fair-minded words” on the abortion debate. It will be held in McCosh Hall, Room 50, on the Princeton University campus. Conference sessions will take place from 1 to 7 p.m. Oct. 15 and from 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Oct. 16. View conference registration and fee information on the conference website.

“We are holding this conference because we believe that many people long for a conversation rather than a debate about abortion," said the Organization Committee members Charles Camosy of Fordham University, Frances Kissling of the University of Pennsylvania, Jennifer Miller of Bioethics International and Peter Singer of Princeton University. "The Open Hearts conference will provide a space where people who disagree can discuss their beliefs humbly, are open to change, speak respectfully, and actually listen and learn from those who have a different view. Our aim is that people will grow in understanding, bridge some divides, define more precisely areas of disagreement, and explore new ways of thinking and speaking about abortion and engage the ‘other’ with  patience, resilience and most importantly hope."

**MEDIA interested in attending should submit the media registration form (.pdf). The conference is open to print journalists. A media availability with the conference organizing committee members will be held at 10:30 a.m. Oct. 15, at the University Center for Human Values, 5 Ivy Lane, Princeton, N.J. The 10:30 a.m. media availability is open to reporters, photographers and broadcast media. In order to attend the media availability, please e-mail Kim Girman at**

Conference topics will include: Emerging opportunities to bridge the abortion divide; moral status of the fetus; whether some reasons for abortion exacerbate discrimination against persons; when might a fetus feel pain and what should we do about it; how far the right of conscientious refusal extends; and should abortion be a matter for the courts or the legislatures.

Speakers include: former U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops prolife spokesperson Helen Alvare; philosopher John Finnis; Pulitzer Prize winner David Garrow; evangelical ethicist David Gushee; former President's Council on Bioethics member William Hurlbut; former acting Assistant U.S. Attorney General Dawn Johnsen; former president of Catholics for Choice Frances Kissling; and well-known ethicists Anita Allen, Art Caplan, Eva Kittay, Ruth Macklin and Peter Singer.

Live video streaming of most conference panels will be available on the conference website.

Conference sponsors are: Princeton's University Center for Human Values, James Madison Program in American Ideals and Institutions, and Department of Religion and Center for the Study of Religion; Fordham University Department of Theology; University of Pennsylvania Center for Bioethics; and Bioethics International.