Bioethicist to keynote annual pro-life banquet

I am thrilled to announce this year’s Bishops’ Pro-Life Banquet and Conference is now open for registration. The banquet and conference will take place in Lincoln at the Cornhusker Marriott Hotel on Sept. 29 and 30.

Before discussing our exciting agenda, know that you can register for the banquet and/or conference through our website,, by email,, or by phone, 402-477-7517.

Our kick-off event is the banquet on Friday evening, Sept. 29, with a social hour at 5 p.m. and dinner at 6 p.m. The banquet always proves to be a joy-filled evening as pro-lifers gather in solidarity to celebrate the tremendous gift of life. As is custom, all three Nebraska bishops –Archbishop George J. Lucas, Bishop James D. Conley of Lincoln, and Bishop Joseph G. Hanefeldt of Grand Island – will be in attendance.

The banquet will include time for recognition, awards and a keynote speaker. The keynote speaker is Wesley J. Smith, senior fellow with the Discovery Institute’s Center on Human Exceptionalism ( Smith is an award-winning author and passionate public advocate on issues of human dignity, bioethics and assisted suicide.

He also is the author and co-author of 12 books, including two notable works on assisted suicide and bioethics: "Forced Exit: Euthanasia, Assisted Suicide and the New Duty to Die" (1997) and "Culture of Death: The Age of ‘Do Harm’ Medicine" (2016).

He regularly contributes to First Things and National Review Online. He has also been featured in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and USA Today, among other prominent publications.

Smith has appeared on thousands of television and radio talk/interview programs, including ABC Nightline, Good Morning America, Larry King Live, CNN, EWTN, and Fox News Network. He regularly consults with and advises members of legislative and executive branches of government.

Smith’s keynote address will highlight the bioethical attacks we confront and how they undermine the exceptional and dignified nature of the human person.

We also will recognize this year’s recipients of the "Gospel of Life" award, which is presented to individuals who have shown exemplary dedication to the pro-life movement.

Additionally, we will honor this year’s statewide pro-life essay contest winners. These winners are students between seventh and 11th grade who have produced outstanding essays articulating the beauty of human life. This year’s theme asked students to describe how modern science and technological advances have contributed to strengthening the pro-life cause by revealing the humanity of the unborn child.

Saturday’s conference will consist of insightful presentations delivered by key national and local pro-life leaders. Smith will offer the conference’s keynote presentation. He will expose the parallels between the assisted suicide movement and legalization of abortion through Roe v. Wade and how we can avoid a Roe-v.-Wade-like moment with assisted suicide.

Megan Drapa of the Vitae Foundation ( will present important "right brain" research and how psychological research can shape pro-life messaging.

The Vitae Foundation uses research-based messaging and cutting-edge media to inform women facing an untimely pregnancy about local pregnancy help centers, to educate the public about the value and sanctity of human life, and to restore the value of life as a core belief in American culture.

Karen Bowling and Nate Grasz of the Nebraska Family Alliance (NFA) ( will discuss the link between human sex trafficking and abortion. NFA is a key advocate on issues of human life, marriage and family, and religious liberty, and seeks to advance these causes by influencing policy, mobilizing prayer, and empowering people.

A panel of local pro-life advocates will offer practical testimony about how they build a culture of life by integrating their pro-life values into their everyday work. The panel will feature medical professionals and pregnancy-help-center advocates, among others.

I will present on pro-life evangelization in a post-Christian culture. The presentation will seek to identify deeper problems facing our culture and reflect on how to tailor our evangelical efforts so that the Gospel of Life can flourish in a culture that seeks to deny Christ.

As you can tell, our pro-life banquet and conference once again hosts an all-star line-up that promises to educate and inspire a deeper love for the Gospel of Life. Register now, and see you soon!



Tom Venzor is executive director of the Nebraska Catholic Conference, with headquarters in Lincoln. Contact him at

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