The suffering you’ll see as a physician can either harden you and make you into a burned-out machine, or you can allow the vocation to soften you. It can help you cultivate compassion, love, justice, and mercy. Let medicine do the latter of the two for you.
Pillar: The Human Person
The first pillar of a decent society is respect for the human person, which recognizes that all individual human beings have dignity simply because of the kind of being they are: animals whose rational faculties allow them to know, love, reason, and communicate. It also recognizes that human beings are persons, members of the human family who flourish in a community that respects their fundamental rights and who long to discover transcendent truths about the nature of reality.
In light of the controversy generated by law enforcement’s response to the Uvalde shooting, the question of courage and cowardice has been the subject of intense debate in recent weeks. A western novel published in 1940 might offer some helpful and surprisingly relevant ways to navigate this complex moral territory.
In vitro fertilization is likely more threatening to unborn life than abortion. The pro-life movement needs to recognize this reality and form a coherent post-Roe strategy for addressing both abortion and life-negating reproductive technologies.
Genuine cases of conflict between maternal and fetal health raise difficult moral questions, but a necessary starting point is to affirm both that physicians must honor their commitment to the mother’s health and that the law’s just protection of unborn human life should not interfere with that responsibility.
Articulating and responding to common misconceptions concerning the ethics of abortion will help to clarify and advance the debate, moving past misleading slogans to engage in a forthright and respectful public dialogue in the wake of Dobbs, and seeking to build a genuine culture of life that supports the needs of both women and children.
With the overturning of Roe, if we do not take a serious accounting of our approach to disabled lives outside the womb, we stand a huge chance that the lives of unborn disabled children will remain a viable bargaining chip in state legislatures across the country.
It is a day to praise those stalwart men and women who kept faith, for half a century kept faith, and who today might cite the words of the poet, “now the great vision which we dared believe through slow and savage years is our own.”
Examining the bodily autonomy argument for abortion highlights a crucial pro-life point: abortion is wrong not only because strangers shouldn’t kill each other but also and especially because parents have special obligations to their children, and it isn’t governmental overreach to require parents to fulfill those obligations.
Beauty, properly understood, offers us a way of self-transcendence. Beauty leads us to participate in a truth that’s bigger than us. When we learn to participate in that beauty, we experience joy, and in some ways experience the true meaning of freedom.
Body-self dualism, and its social manifestation in expressive individualism, underlie the rejection of our given human natures. Rather than seeing ourselves as somehow inhabiting bodies that are used as mere instruments, we should see ourselves as incarnate, bodily beings embedded in communities and bound by natural and supernatural laws.
As a counterweight to the transience and loneliness that pervade our society today, Dante’s medieval theological vision reminds us that friendship is central to human flourishing because it is central to the human person. Friendships—no matter how fleeting—prepare us for union with God.
The growing movement to legalize physician-assisted suicide raises fundamental questions about how to die well. The late medieval Ars moriendi text, which argues that preparation for death should be directed toward the goal of union with God, provides a valuable framework for more successfully incorporating the art of dying into a contemporary context.
The only way to find out about happiness is not with instruments or surveys, but with thoughtful conversation that cross-examines common views about happiness held throughout history.
The focus of pro-life advocacy should always be on the fact that the unborn child is a human being, with a moral status equal to a born child, and not on distractions about social policy, sexual ethics, or other rights claims that overlook this biological reality.
How we treat imperiled newborns—not only after a failed abortion attempt, but also in a more traditional NICU setting—is essential for fully grasping the current understanding of the right to abortion. When we examine the central role ableism plays in both sets of issues, thinking about them together provides an anti-ableist critique that has important implications for both prenatal and neonatal justice.
Matthew Levering’s book offers an intellectual history of a complex question in Catholic moral theology, one that recovers a biblical and Thomistic view of conscience as a limited concept within Christian moral life as a whole.
In the event that Roe v. Wade is overturned this summer, pro-life legislators must act to protect human life in the womb. They should introduce legislation to recognize the personhood of the unborn, strip the ability of federal courts to hear challenges to this recognition, create a private right of action to help enforce anti-abortion policy, and use the taxing power to cripple the abortion industry.
Racial disparity is really only a derivative result of the larger social abandonment of a set of norms which manifests itself most immediately and most severely in the African American population, but which really is a larger question for all Americans.
In her recent book The Genetic Lottery, Kathryn Paige Harden makes flawed assumptions about the nature of moral agency and generalizes about how people value social status.
Given the ongoing evolution of abortion law in the United States, it makes sense to engage and evaluate the constitutions and laws of other jurisdictions. Although these sources and materials do not determine the meaning of our Constitution, they can illuminate our scientific, medical, and ethical debates. A particularly valuable resource, which explores abortion jurisprudence across a variety of legal contexts, is Unborn Human Life and Fundamental Rights: Leading Constitutional Cases under Scrutiny, edited by William L. Saunders and Pilar Zambrano.
In Part I of this essay, I outlined the key tenets of critical race theory and showed how popularized versions of this controversial theory have made their way into many public schools across the nation. Today, in Part II, I explain why the teaching of CRT-inspired ideas in public schools is contrary to parental rights; I propose school choice measures as a crucial part of the solution.
The age of digital media has unleashed a profoundly threatening human experiment. By drawing us to waste not only our time, but our attention, social media seduces us to waste our souls. Our brightest engineers have trained our most powerful technology to act with the psychological craftiness of demons. Neuroscience helps us understand how digital media is changing us, but we need a more classical language about the soul to understand, and protect ourselves from, the most ominous of these changes.
Many Catholics have found their consciences rattled by COVID vaccine mandates and are seeking conscience protections and exemptions. But to champion conscience for its own sake, without appreciating what forms and informs it, is to err on a fundamental level. Any consideration of conscience must be aided by the virtues, those firm dispositions of the soul that enable us to act well in every circumstance—no matter how complex or challenging.
Several Catholic dioceses have conflated the teaching of the Church with scientific or prudential judgment about the common good during the COVID-19 pandemic. This has led many bishops to dismiss legitimate concerns about COVID vaccines felt by individuals with sensitive consciences. In so doing, these bishops ignore the Church’s teachings about the grave duty to obey one’s conscience.
The collapse of traditional, external anchors of identity—perhaps most obviously those of religion, nation, and family—explains the attraction of the turn inward. The rise of technology feeds the notion that we can bend nature to our will, that the world is just so much raw, plastic material from which we can make whatever meaning or reality we choose. We no longer think of ourselves as subject to the world’s fixed nature, or of it as having an objective authority or meaning. We are the ones with power, and we are the ones who give the world significance.