Manhattan Declaration co-author to address conscience rights at Benedictine

ATCHISON — It was a prestigious line-up Nov. 20, 2009 at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C., when America’s religious leaders and leading scholars joined together to pledge to defend the rights of Christians to practice according to their beliefs; especially in the areas of medicine, marriage, and religious liberty.  Along with the leaders of evangelical networks and Orthodox and Catholic bishops was Dr. Robert George, Professor of Jurisprudence at Princeton University and co-author of the document now known as the Manhattan Declaration.

George is set to speak in O’Malley-McAllister Auditorium on the campus of Benedictine College, Atchison, Kan., on Friday, July 15, at 12:30 p.m.  He will address doctors and other medical professionals in a keynote speech dealing with conscience rights.  His presentation is part of a larger week of conferences and presentations dedicated to Catholic healthcare identity and new technologies in fertility care that are in keeping with traditional Christian ethics. The conference includes CME credits for doctors in attendance through the American Academy of Family Physicians.

“With the recent repeals of various aspects of President George W. Bush’s executive order protecting conscience rights of medical professionals, Dr. George’s message is sure to garner great interest from doctors already apprehensive about the declining emphasis on the ancient foundation of medical ethics: ‘first, due no harm,’” said Dr. Susan Orr , former Deputy Assistant Secretary for Population Affairs at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, where she helped shape the Bush era conscience regulations.  Orr is now a professor at Benedictine College.  Recently married she now goes by her married name, Dr. Traffas.

“For many groups, the conscience rights of medical professionals seem to be the last defense against encroachments on our liberties and on human dignity,” she added.

“With all the ‘advances’ in science, in vitro fertilization, and contraceptives, have we advanced as a society that values others or have we set ourselves up as users and disposers of others?” asked Matthew Tsakanikas, conference coordinator and a professor at Benedictine College.  “The conference is about restoring virtue in all aspects of life and practice, just like the quote on our website from President John Adams about the need for virtue if our country is to save its authentic liberties.”

Also speaking at the conference will be Dr. Jan Hemstad, M.D., President of the Catholic Medical Association, and other medical doctors speaking on topics such as Natural Family Planning, endocrine system health, overcoming infertility, and treatments for Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome.  Gene Diamond, a CEO from a major Catholic healthcare system in Indiana, will address participants on mission and identity of their institutions, and Fr. Matthew Habiger, PhD, President-Emeritus of Human Life International, will address the Christian anthropology driving new demands in healthcare and respect for human dignity.

George’s keynote address on “Conscience Rights” is being made available free of charge, but seating is limited due to priority seating of the medical conference.  If you are a medical professional not attending the conference but would like to hear Dr. George’s keynote, please call 913-360-7571 to reserve a free limited ticket to his talk.  The website,, has a list of conference schedules and additional information.


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November 27, 2020
The Diocese of Kansas City ~ St. Joseph