There is a magnificent interview over at National Review Online of professor of philosophy at Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles, Christopher Kaczor. He is the author of the new book The Ethics of Abortion: Women’s Rights, Human Life, and the Question of Justice (Available at Amazon HERE). The interview is conducted by Kathryn Jean Lopez, of National Review, and though she takes up the voice of a pro-”choice” advocate, she is not.
Professor Kaczor answers the most common questions and objects with great clarity. I would like to present a few excerpts of the lengthy interview here and encourage you to read the rest. I will excerpt it in the form of listing the question and the pertinent point he makes. And few minor remarks by me are in red. The Full article is here Pro-Life Aristotle
1. What right do you, a man, have to make such a case [against abortion]?
KACZOR: Legally speaking, everyone has a right to free speech, including speech about abortion….has the right and obligation to speak out in defense of the defenseless and in favor of a just social order. The question …seems to presuppose that abortion is simply and solely about women, but this is a false supposition. The majority of abortionists are men — more men than women describe themselves as “pro-choice” — and in the United States, men pay for abortions with their tax dollars. Aside from these considerations, every abortion involves the pregnant woman, the expectant father, the one who is aborted, and the society that allows it.
I would only add here that just under 50% of babies killed are male. I remember be “serenaded” at the last Pro-life march here in DC by pro-abortion counter demonstrators who I had witnessed to. They “sang” for me: “Hey, hey, ho, ho, pro-life men have got to go. Hey, hey, ho, ho, if you got pregnant then you’d know!” They also told me, that as a man, I had no right to speak on this issue and since I was a priest, I was even more disqualified. As you might guess, a few of them accused me of being a pedophile. Yes, yes, if you put yourself out there expect to get it with both barrels
2. No book [or law] will eradicate the fact that there are women who will feel the need to abort their unborn children and doctors who will provide the service. It was the case before it was legal and it will be after.
KACZOR: I think you are right that abortions took place prior to legalization and abortions would continue if abortion were made illegal. The same point can be made for theft, child abuse, and assault, which have always happened in human history and which will always happen. Indeed, if people never did the act in question, making a law about it would be superfluous.
Exactly and I would add that i think laws do influence some people not to do certain things. I know that one of the reasons I never tried drugs in High School was that I knew they were illegal and the risk associated with such use helped to deter me. Many say you cannot legislate morality. To certain extent I agree and don’t lots of unnecessary laws, but my own experience is that law both reflects and influences moral decision making.
3. What’s the least compelling argument supporters of legal abortion make?
KACZOR: “It is my body, it is my choice.” [Actually], in abortion, there are two bodies involved, the body of the pregnant woman and the body of the human being in utero. [They] can be of different blood types and different races, and it can happen that one of them dies and the other lives and vice versa. If there were only one body involved, then absurdities follow such as that a pregnant woman has two heads, four arms, and, if she is carrying a boy, also a penis. Further, “choice” is a euphemism disguising the reality. Everyone supports good choices that are just and promote human welfare. The question is whether abortion is such a choice. Great answer, and humorous to boot, showing the thoughtless absurdity of the slogan.
4. What’s different about your Book and your argument?
My argument is not faith-based, but rather based on reason and evidence. There is no appeal to theological authority; there are no Scripture citations to justify conclusions, and no premises that come from ecclesial authority. The case against abortion is made to all persons of good will, regardless of their faith or lack thereof. As a priest I usually have recourse to Scripture. But it is clear that we must also make use of Natural Law arguments based on natural reason.
5. Is it just to tell a [pregnant] teen she’s got to have a kid…?
Of course, no one should ever be forced to become pregnant, but a pregnant woman already “has a kid.” After pregnancy has begun, the question is not, “Do we force her to have a kid?” but rather “Will we support this expectant mother and her child?” People of good will should answer “yes.” A wonderful turning back of the the phrase “have a kid.”
6. What does Aristotle have to do with the poor mom who feels as if she has no alternatives when she realizes she is pregnant? The desperate teenager? The single professional who can’t both do her job and have this child?
KACZOR: I believe that everyone, including the poor mom, the desperate teenager, and the single professional, desires to find true happiness. I also believe that Aristotle, and even more fully Thomas Aquinas, showed that the way to true happiness consists in activity in accordance with virtue. There can be, therefore, no authentic happiness found in activity that is unjust.
I can think of one case in particular: a young student, not yet finished with her education, who found herself pregnant with a man she did not know well. With so many responsibilities, both to her extended family and to her studies, she felt desperate, alone, and trapped. It was truly an act of heroism for that woman to decide to place that child for adoption. I know the woman in the story very well. She is my birth mother. I feel such an enormous debt of gratitude to her….I don’t think there is any woman who in the long term regrets, even in the most difficult of circumstances, making the choice for life. But I know there are many thousands of women who still remember and mourn, even decades later, the date that their baby would have been born.
A moving and wonderful story of how making virtuous choices, even when difficult brings happiness.
7. Are there myths about abortion you’d like to use this book to shoot down?
[One] myth is that there is a debate about “when life begins.” In fact, informed parties, both those opposed to and those in favor of abortion, acknowledge that the human fetus is a living organism. Notice the phrase, informed parties. I have met more than a few uniformed people who still buy into the “tissue” argument or have been convinced of it by a Planned Parenthood official. Still, I am convinced that, deep down, everyone knows the child is alive and is a human being.
[Another] myth is that the debate is about whether the “fetus is a human being.” Informed participants in this discussion, regardless of their views about abortion, understand that the living organism within the woman is a member of the species homo sapiens…..The real question in the debate is: Should all human beings be respected and protected, or just some?
The debate about “personhood” is really the debate about who will be included in the human community, who will be respected, and who will receive legal protection. This debate goes back over the centuries, throughout which various classes of human beings were excluded from the human family. Those excluded tend to change over time but have been at various points Native Americans, Africans, Catholics in Protestant-dominated countries, Protestants in Catholic-dominated countries, non-Muslims, Jews, the handicapped, and women. Every single time we’ve said, this or that class of human beings does not merit protection and respect, I think we’ve made a terrible mistake. Today, I believe we’re making another terrible mistake in excluding from full protection and respect human beings prior to birth.
Yes, those who deny personhood or full legal recognition to the infant are in some pretty terrible company and heir to so pretty awful chapters in human history. Any quick look at history reveals how ugly it all is.
8. So what if a mother’s life is in danger? What if she has cancer? What if she will likely die if she is not treated? And what if when she is treated, the child might very well die?
KACZOR: Any legitimate medical procedure that is needed to save the woman’s life — whether or not she is pregnant — may be performed, so long as the death of the unborn child is not sought as a means or as an end. Of course, a pregnant woman may choose, if she wishes, to decline such interventions in order to preserve the life developing within her. These cases are governed by what is called the principle of double effect….So long as the death of the unborn child is not sought as a means or as an end, and the procedure is necessary in order to save the life of the mother, it may be done even if it brings about the bad effect of fetal death. In a similar way, the death of the mother may not be sought as an end or as a means, yet she may choose to accept her own death as a side effect of protecting the life of her child. Innocent human life is worthy of respect and protection, but in some tragic situations, life will be lost whatever is chosen.
Again, the key point with double effect, is intent. There can be no direct intent to harm the child in the womb. One may forsee the possible or even likely loss of the the child, but does not wish or intend it. Further, the death of the child cannot be means by which the woman is saved. The death of the child is only the regrettable side effect of a procedure that is critically necessary to save the mother.
The whole interview is wonderful and he even uses a Star Trek analogy at one point. Consider reading the article. I am interested in your comments. I also realize that the “double effect” scenario mentioned at the end is troubling and difficult for some who are not used to hearing it. But it is straight-forward Catholic moral theology. Nevertheless, I welcome questions about that and also that readers might also supply greater insight to that or any of the points made here.