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Life and Legislation: America’s BIG Divide on Abortion

A special student-produced event
05:30 PM 7:30 PM
Kansas City Library | Plaza Branch: 4801 Main Street, Kansas City, MO

Life and Legislation: America’s BIG Divide on Abortion

05:30 PM 7:30 PM
Kansas City Library | Plaza Branch: 4801 Main Street, Kansas City, MO
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An APS special student-produced program

Abortion is a topic that blurs the line between church and state creating tension between personal choices, medical decisions and legislative implications.

On Tuesday, April 25 students in the APS Civics Education Initiative presented a program that addresses this challenging issue. Panelists included KS Attorney General, Kris Kobach; Rabbi of Congregation Kol Ami, Doug Alpert; Obstetrician and Gynecologist, Megan Madrigal; retired CEO of the Center for Practical Bioethics, John Carney; author, commentator and advocate for pro-life, religious liberty and racial justice issues, Gloria Purvis; and professor of economics at the University of Kansas, David Slusky.  This dynamic panel discussion was moderated by Meg Cunningham, Missouri Statehouse reporter – The Beacon.

The APS Civics Education Initiative Student Initiative takes the APS mission into schools and partnerships with teachers, students and administrators at both the high school and college level. The initiative includes a custom-developed high school curriculum focused on learning about misinformation, disinformation, and bias, and college-level internship opportunities that enable students to produce compelling and relevant programs on significant and difficult issues in our community.

Program Materials


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Full Program Recording
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Program Panelists

Rabbi Doug Alpert is the spiritual leader of Congregation Kol Ami- Kansas City’s non-affiliated, urban, progressive synagogue.  He feels honored and blessed to be a part of a synagogue community that cares for each other, for their community and their world.

Rabbi Alpert received his rabbinic ordination from the Academy for Jewish Religion-New York in 2012.  He also holds a Masters in Judaic Studies from the Siegal College of Jewish Studies, a Juris Doctor degree from the University of Missouri-Kansas City School of Law, and a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Urban Affairs from the George Washington University.

Rabbi Alpert is the past president of Missouri Healthcare for All, an ally with Stand Up KC-the fight for low wage workers, and the Faith Co-Chair for Missouri Jobs With Justice.  He is on the executive committee of the NAACP-Missouri branch and received the Harold Holliday Civil Rights Award from the NAACP-KC Branch in 2017.  Alpert received the Evelyn Wasserstrom Award in 2022, jointly given by the Southern Christian Leadership Conference and the Jewish Community Relations Bureau-American Jewish Committee of Greater Kansas City. He is a member and past co-chair of the Criminal Justice Task Force of MORE2.

Alpert is a board member of Planned Parenthood of the Great Plains. He is one of fourteen clergy plaintiffs suing the state of Missouri over its anti-abortion legislation. He is on the national Clergy Advisory Board of Faith In Action and is a member of the Gamaliel National Religious Leaders Caucus. Alpert was a featured speaker at the Kansas City Women’s March in 2017.  He was the Jewish representative speaker for many years at the annual Gay Pride Interfaith Service.

He is married to Fay Balk and has three sons:  Solomon (and his wife Lisa), David and Isaac.

John Carney retired as President and CEO of the Center for Practical Bioethics in early 2023 after serving in that role for more than 11 years.

Prior to that he led the organization’s efforts in the area Aging and End of Life from 2004 through 2010. His work included leadership roles on the KC region’s Pediatric Palliative Care Project, an Aging in Community Initiative and various policy initiatives including roles in co-authoring a report to Congress on Advance Care Planning. Early in his tenure as CEO, he directed a national multi-year Pew Charitable Trusts project examining Catholic health care perspectives on palliative care and end of life decision making.

More recently, his passion in advocating for patients’ voices to be heard and heeded prompted the Center’s team to expand services in clinical ethics consultations, Artificial Intelligence, and population health. He readily acknowledges that his personal journey in areas of health care equity and justice remain woefully unfinished.

John holds an undergraduate degree in philosophy from Newman University (Wichita, KS), a Master’s from Wichita State University, and an as-yet incomplete journeyman’s permit in humanity.

Kris Kobach, the 45th Attorney General of Kansas, was raised in Topeka where he graduated from Washburn Rural High School. He completed his undergraduate studies in government at Harvard University, graduating first in his department and summa cum laude. A Marshall Scholarship recipient, he received his Ph.D. in politics from the University of Oxford. Kobach received his J.D. from Yale Law School, serving as notes
development editor of the Yale Law Journal.

Kobach clerked for the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals and shortly thereafter became a professor of constitutional law at the University of Missouri – Kansas City School of Law. Kobach received a White House Fellowship from President George W. Bush. He served in the United States Department of Justice under Attorney General John Ashcroft as Counsel to the Attorney General.

Kobach has litigated some of the most high-profile cases in the country, including defending statutes and ordinances against the ACLU on multiple occasions. In 2012, Kobach brought the first challenge to President Obama’s DACA amnesty on behalf of 10 ICE agents. His victory in federal district court paved the way for Texas to defeat the Obama Justice Department in its litigation.

Kobach served as the 31st Kansas Secretary of State, 2011-2019. He lives near Lecompton with his wife, Heather, and their five daughters.

Megan Madrigal, MD is a practicing Obstetrician and Gynecologist at University Health-Truman Medical Center, an Assistant Professor at the University of Missouri – Kansas City and the Director for the Obstetrics and Gynecology Clerkship at UMKC School of Medicine.

Dr. Madrigal was born and raised in Kansas City, graduating from Bishop Miege High School. She then went on to complete her Bachelor of Arts degree in history from New York University, graduating cum laude.  She received her medical degree from The University of Kansas School of Medicine, and completed her residency in Obstetrics and Gynecology at Christiana Care Health System in Delaware. Dr. Madrigal then returned to Kansas City to care directly for patients, especially those in underserved populations, as well as provide clinical education to medical students and residents. Compassionate patient care and clinical medical education, along with access to healthcare, reproductive justice and legislative advocacy are passions in her work.

Gloria Purvis is an author, commentator and the host and executive producer of “The Gloria Purvis Podcast.”

Through her media presence, she has been a strong Catholic voice for life issues, religious liberty, and racial justice. She has appeared in numerous media outlets including The New York Times, The Washington Post, PBS Newshour, NPR, Newsweek, and Catholic Answers Live and hosted Morning Glory, an international radio show.

She presented a powerful video series entitled “Racism, Human Dignity and The Catholic Church” through the Word on Fire Institute. Most recently, she was part of a groundbreaking, exclusive interview with Pope Francis with a delegation from America Media.

She is the Inaugural Pastoral Fellow at the McGrath Institute for Church Life at Notre Dame University and recently received an Honorary Doctorate in Humane Letters from the University of Portland in Oregon.

David Slusky, Ph.D. is a professor of economics at the University of Kansas, with an emphasis on applied microeconomics. His research focuses are reproductive healthcare, health disparities, and health insurance.

At the University of Kansas, he is affiliated with the Department of Economics, the Department of Population Health (by courtesy), and the Institute for Policy & Social Research. He serves as the Interim Chair of the Department of Speech-Language-Hearing: Sciences & Disorders at the University of Kansas and the Executive Director of the American Society of Health Economists. Further, he is a Research Associate at the National Bureau of Economic Research and a Research Fellow at IZA – Institute for Labor Economics in Bonn, Germany. He is also the recipient of the Byron T. Shutz Award for Excellence in Teaching and the De-Min and Chin-Sha Wu Research Award, and delivered the 2020 Seaver Lecture for the Humanities Program, all at University of Kansas. He has presented on economic effects of Medicaid expansion to the Kansas Governor’s Council on Tax Reform and testified on it before the Kansas Senate Public Health and Welfare Committee. He was also the keystone speaker at the inaugural event of the Center for Health Economics Research at Uppsala University in Sweden. He’s a frequent guest on podcasts and radio, including on Freakonomics, M.D., and on NPR Morning Edition.

He holds an undergraduate degree from Yale University, where he doubled majored in physics and international studies, and masters and doctoral degrees in economics from Princeton University.

Program Moderator

Meg Cunningham is The Beacon’s Missouri Statehouse reporter. Previously, Meg worked as a national politics reporter for ABC News in Washington, D.C., where she covered campaigns and elections. Meg is a Kansas City native and graduated from the Missouri School of Journalism. In her free time, she enjoys spending time outdoors, cooking and yoga. Follow her on Twitter @Meg_Cunn.

Thank You to Our Season Sponsors

Hall Family Foundation

Health Forward Foundation

Nelson Atkins Museum of Art


Sue Seidler Nerman and Lewis Nerman

Marny and John Sherman

William Jewell College

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