Some of these arguments, he explained, expand the notion of “rights” to an absurd degree – such that accidentally stepping on insects would be equivalent to running over pedestrians with one's car. Others, he noted, reduce the notion too narrowly, failing to account for a number of otherwise-normal people who have no sensitivity to pain because of a rare neurological condition.
Even some common everyday examples, he said, disprove the argument based on a capacity for pain.
“My wife gave birth many times naturally, whereas I flinch at dental work,” Kaczor observed. “If the ability to feel pain is what grants us our rights and dignity, but we have unequal capacities for pain, then on what basis should we assert that we have equal rights and equal dignity?”
“By contrast,” he said, “the pro-life view – that all human beings have basic moral worth and rights simply because they are humans having a rational nature – suffers from none of these problems.”
“It is not over-inclusive, so as to equate humans and insects,” Kaczor pointed out. “It is not under-inclusive, because it includes those handicapped people who cannot feel pain.”
“It secures the equal moral worth of all human beings – because all human beings share equally in human nature, which is not something that comes and goes episodically over time.”
Kaczor hopes that his book will allow opponents of abortion to articulate the pro-life position in an uncompromising yet charitable manner, in the discussions and debates that inevitably arise in a conflicted culture.
“Abortion certainly is difficult to discuss,” he acknowledged. “First, it is important to speak with great respect to those on the other side.”
“Calling each other names, thinking the very worst about others, typically does not lead to much civil discussion. So, in 'The Ethics of Abortion,' I’ve written a book that tries to entirely avoid polemical and uncharitable discourse.”
“In order to answer the arguments of those with whom I disagree,” Kaczor said, “it is important to really understand what they are saying and why they are saying it.”
“St. Thomas Aquinas is a great model for this,” the philosopher noted.
(Story continues below)
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