While the battle to preserve Catholic values in American health care has reached fever pitch with the recent HHS contraceptive mandate, it has endured, often quietly, for years. Throughout that time, two alumni of the College — Katie Short (’80)  and John Damiani (’84)  — have been at the forefront of that fight.
Mrs. Short is a founder and the legal director of the Life Legal Defense Foundation , which provides legal aid to those who need help in their efforts to protect the unborn. Dr. Damiani is president of the Christus Medicus Foundation , which works to ensure the right of conscience for health-care workers, promote the Culture of Life in American health care, and assist in the establishment of Christ-centered health-care centers.
Now, through their respective organizations, Mrs. Short and Dr. Damiani are collaborating on a conference dedicated to defending life and religious liberty. “Make Straight the Pathway: An Integrated and Unified Solution for Catholic Healthcare Reform” will be held in San Francisco on March 29-31. Hosted by Life Legal Defense Foundation and Christus Medicus Foundation, the conference is sponsored by the Archdiocese of San Francisco; the Dioceses of Oakland, Santa Rosa, and Sacramento; and several other pro-life and medical organizations.
The conference follows a similar event that Dr. Damiani arranged last year in Detroit. That conference proved so successful that Medicus’ episcopal advisor, the Most Rev. Robert F. Vasa, Bishop of Santa Rosa, asked that one like it be held for the Western region of the country.
“The current trajectory of public health policy points to a future where the phrase ‘Catholic health care’ will be an oxymoron,” warns Mrs. Short. “This conference aims to equip medical professionals, policymakers, and others to help our country make a desperately needed course correction.”
Adds Dr. Damiani, “Our Holy Father, in his Ad Limina address to the bishops, warned of the rise of secular humanism. He reminded the bishops of their baptismal and consecrated vows to not let the gates of hell prevail against the spread of the Gospel to all. He pointed out that our founding principles enshrine that freedom. Therefore we must not let the state restrict or worse, define, what is the proper living out of our call to faith. The laity need to respond to the urging of the Holy Father and support the bishops in fulfilling their charge from the Holy See by educating themselves on these issues and organizing for action in the sphere of their own community.”
Information and registration forms  for the conference are available online.