Tuesday, January 22, 2008

A record turnout for the Students for Life conference Sunday at Catholic University is evidence of the growing strength of the pro-life cause among young Americans, organizers said.

“This is the largest gathering of pro-life college students ever in the history of the country and the movement,” said Becky Banks, SFL program coordinator.

SFL President Ashley Tyndall, a graduate student at the University of North Carolina, said more than 750 students from across the country attended the organization’s 21st annual national conference at Catholic University’s Edward J. Pryzbyla University Center in Northeast.

Miss Tyndall said most of the students attending the conference planned to march today in the 35th annual March for Life, marking the anniversary of the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision that legalized abortion.

The event will begin with a noon rally on the Mall, followed by a march to the Supreme Court.

Sunday’s daylong conference featured activist training seminars and the showing of a documentary, “I Was Wrong,” emphasizing women’s regrets about their abortions, and concluded with a keynote address from former Kansas Attorney General Phillip D. Kline, whose investigation of abortion-clinic malpractice made him a hero to pro-lifers.

Among the VIPs in attendance at the conference was Leo Severino, one of the producers of “Bella,” a popular movie with a pro-life theme that won top honors at the 2006 Toronto International Film Festival.

“It’s been unbelievable,” Mr. Severino said of the success of the romantic drama he said began with “three guys on a couch” and generated more than $7.8 million in domestic box-office receipts, despite a “ridiculously limited release.”

He noted that the film drew a phenomenal per-screen average of $13,000 during its November opening weekend in New Zealand.

A major draw is the film’s leading man, Mexican heartthrob Eduardo Verastegui, 33.

“He was tired of doing all the Latin love stereotypes,” Mr. Severino said of the actor’s desire to appear in “Bella.”

A rumor that the actor would attend Sunday’s conference caused a momentary sensation, Miss Banks said. “Every single girl in the room fell out,” she said.

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