‘Great Defender of Life’ Dinner

I’m in New York today for the Human Life Review/Foundation’s “Great Defender of Life” Dinner. J.P. McFadden founded Human Life Review/Foundation in 1975; the Review is “an academic-quality journal devoted to civilized discussion of legal, philosophical, medical, scientific, and moral perspectives on all life issues.” In practice this covers “not only abortion but also euthanasia, suicide, neonaticide, genetic engineering, cloning, fetal and embryonic stem cell research and experimentation, and new issues as they emerge.”

Human Life Review’s archives might as well function as an archive of the American intellectual life movement since Roe, and its writers and contributors have in many ways charted out how to return America to a place where authentic, life-affirming choice is possible without the violence and self-harm inherent to our present system of law. Human Life Foundation, meanwhile, publishes the journal and also has provided something like $1.5 million to New York pregnancy resource clinics over the years.

Tonight’s “Great Defender of Life” honorees were David Quinn and Edward Mechmann, and each provided moving and passionate witness for the work of life in Ireland and New York, respectively. Prior to tonight, I had visited the Union League in Philadelphia and the Union League Club of Chicago, but never in New York. These are independent clubs, all created during the Civil War Era for the purpose of raising moral, a spirit of fraternity, and importantly financial and political support for the Union and anti-slavery cause. These institutions are monuments to another era of American conflict, and they’re also lasting symbols of hope for healing and a return to social unity.

David Quinn is Ireland’s best known commentator on religious and social affairs. He has been writing a national newspaper column since 1994. He wrote for The Irish Independent (Ireland’s biggest selling daily paper) for 12 years. Currently his column appears in The Sunday Times (Ireland edition). He also writes a weekly column for The Irish Catholic, Ireland’s biggest-selling Catholic paper. He was editor of The Irish Catholic from 1996 until 2003. He frequently appears on radio and television programs and also contributes to numerous magazines overseas, including Human Life Review and First Things. He has been a leading pro-life voice in Ireland for more than two decades. David is also founder and Director of The Iona Institute which promotes the right to life, marriage and the family, and the place of religion in society.

Edward Mechmann is an attorney with the Archdiocese of New York, where he works on public policy education and advocacy. He is the Director of Public Policy, and has worked for many years with the Family Life/Respect Life Office. He is also the Director of the Safe Environment Office at the Archdiocese, where he oversees their child protection programs.