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Center Intern Update: Christy and Palmer Hurst

The following is a first-hand update about interns Christy and Palmer Hurst, who are two of the three Center interns with the European Center for Law and Justice (ECLJ) this summer.  Christy and Palmer met at Regent University School of Law and were married the summer after their 1L year.

The Walk to Work
The first two weeks in Strasbourg, France, seemed to fly by for Palmer and me as we worked for the European Centre for Law and Justice. It was our first day on the job, and the ECLJ tasked us with an incredible assignment. As of right now, there is no European Union rule that prohibits partial-birth abortions or neonatal infanticide, where physicians kill the baby, or leave him to die without palliative care, when the baby is born alive after a failed abortion.

Of course, in the U.S. a physician who kills a baby after birth is charged with murder (think of the Kermit Gosnell case in PA). We were shocked to read statistics that showed how this is a very normal practice in many European countries.

After years of studying international human rights issues, this was incredibly shocking news to me. After all, we sat in a Constitutional Law class appalled that Carhart[1]only protected babies against a certain type of partial-birth abortion, but this practice in Europe is much more disturbing. There are so many distressing accounts detailing how physicians kill newborns by breaking their spines, suffocating them, or throwing them in the medical waste as they cry to die a painful death.

Honestly, Palmer and I spent many nights talking through our emotions and praying so as to not let these accounts haunt us. However, we were constantly reminded that our work could legitimately change Europe forever if we keep pushing through to write an amazing petition.

Palmer & Christy’s Apartment
What exactly were we doing? Well, the ECLJ had the opportunity to meet with the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe this week in its summer session to propose legislation regarding neonatal infanticide.

The office prepared a 35-page petition with country statistics, eyewitness testimonies, persuasive arguments from international law, statements from multiple European colleges of neonatal and gynecological care, and a medical discussion of fetal pain. Palmer and I drafted the international statutory and case law section, and, along with another Center intern, Jessica Rigsby, formulated the statistics section and edited the entire memo. Many of the testimonies were roughly translated into English, and we had quite a time trying to make these testimonies readable. I know the office is happy to have native English speakers, but I think the amount of edits surprised them. Learning to politely correct mistakes without bulldozing the memo has been a project that I am working on here 😉 Oh the joy of learning how to work with other cultures, languages, and people as an expat!

Bridge by the Apartment
The ECLJ’s request was that the Assembly at least discuss neonatal infanticide so that the deputies become aware of the problem. After the petition was presented on Tuesday to a committee, the final hearing on Friday will decide if this issue should be tabled for discussion for the entire Parliamentary Assembly.

The committee was not as enthusiastic about the petition as we would have liked. We would still appreciate your support and prayers so that the deputies hear the message and understand that preventing murder is more important than the free will of the mother after birth.

Beyond work, Strasbourg is decidedly my favorite city to live in with its gorgeous Franco-Germanic architecture, winding rivers and bridges, and simple living. The enthusiasm I have for walking to the market to find fresh, local food is surprising to me. I did not realize how much I value this until you take the mega-markets of the States away.

Trip to Cologne
Our little apartment is located in my favorite part of town, a neighborhood called Kreutenau, full of local students, other internationals, and incredible restaurants. We call it the “Ghent” of Strasbourg. We live right around the corner from the water, and have a 15-minute walk to work. It is such a blessing to stroll through the streets after working taking in all of the sights, smells, and sounds. The trains and efficient public transportation makes us question why we are paying for our cars back home each month, haha.

Life is calm and relaxing here, although our job presents us with difficult material. There really is a joie de

Au revoir et bises à tous
Christy and Palmer

[1]Gonzales v. Carhart, 550 U.S. 124 (2007), is the United States Supreme Court case that upheld as constitutional the Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Act. 

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