Tuesday, August 5, 2014


Due to work and research commitments, I will not be posting anything new until next year. In the meantime, use the links and the news feeds and still feel free to email me if you want to discuss reproductive politics. Thanks for your continued interest. 

Monday, January 27, 2014

Protestant and Catholic balance in the pro-life movement

In a column in First Things online, Mark Tooley uses the recent March for Life as an occasion to discuss what he sees as a shift within evangelical Protestantism to pro-life beliefs.


Essay in First Things (January 27, 2014): Protestants March for Life

Asking Pope Francis to reexamine abortion

Philosopher Gary Gutting, who always writes something interesting for The Stone column in The New York Times, recently asked if Pope Francis might reconsider the Catholic Church's traditional absolutist opposition to abortion.

In doing so, Gutting makes a case for a kind of minimalist justification for abortion-- that is, abortion is immoral in most circumstances but there are a few cases where abortion is justified (in the case of rape, for example). 

For that reason, the column makes for informative reading. Still, Gutting puts the cart before the horse: how and why would Pope Francis review the Church's view on abortion before reexamining its even-more-restrictive view of artificial contraception? 

Anything can happen, of course, but Pope Francis has not really indicated a willingness to reconsider the doctrine of the Church on sex, conception, and abortion. Everything I have read from and about Francis is that he is advocating for a change of tone and emphasis, not what is moral or immoral. 


Essay by Gary Gutting in The New York Times (January 23, 2014): Should Pope Francis Rethink Abortion?

Friday, January 24, 2014

Book review: The Street Politics of Abortion

I recently wrote a review of The Street Politics of Abortion, by Joshua C. Wilson, for the Law and Politics Book Review. It can be found here.

Spontaneous miscarriage and the morality of abortion

Hello, everyone! I have been away from the blog for a while, during a period of great activity regarding reproductive politics. So let's get back to discussing this always-interesting topic. 

In reading an essay by Gary Gutting (subject of a separate post), I followed a link to this blog post by philosopher Peter Smith. 

He wonders why intentional termination of an early pregnancy is more morally consequential than a spontaneous early miscarriage (which occurs in roughly 30% of conceptions). What he is really doing is calling attention to a perceived hypocrisy by pro-life advocates: If unborn are valuable humans from the moment of conception, why isn't there more of an outcry over the heavy loss of human life by natural miscarriage? If the value of the unborn is equal across all situations, Smith suggests, then this apparent lack of concern over natural miscarriage indicates that opposition to abortion, at least early in pregnancy, is about something else. 

Smith concludes (tentatively) that most people have in fact a 'gradualist' view of the morality of abortion, meaning that we assign less moral weight to the death/killing of an early product of conception than a later-term embryo or fetus. 

The comments, and Smith's responses to them, are really worth reading. Smith gets some pushback on the idea that natural death and intentional death of the early unborn are equivalent-- that there is a significant distinction between accidental death and intentional death. 


Blog post, in Logic Matters, by Peter Smith (Sept. 1, 2011): Abortion, again