Three Approaches to Abortion

REVIEWED BY REGIS J. FLAHERTY

Peter Kreeft has written a book that not only will stir the fires of the heart, but will also sharpen the thought process and perspective of anyone who is concerned about pro-life issues.

After more than 30 years of legalized abortion in America, and the deaths of millions of pre-born babies, publishers continue to print new titles about the effects of abortion, the sanctity of life, and what is needed for healing. I continue to buy these new titles to read, but not because I really expect new information or new insights. I buy the latest books primarily to keep the flames burning in my heart so that I will continue to work for the establishment of a culture of life. It was with this expectation that I purchased Three Approaches to Abortion by Peter Kreeft.

Dr. Kreeft, a professor of philosophy at Boston College, has written a book that not only will stir the fires of the heart, but will also sharpen the thought process and perspective of anyone who is concerned about pro-life issues. The book is divided into three sections or, as Kreeft says, "three angles." They are:

  1. the impersonal (the objective, logical arguments)

  2. the personal (the subjective motives); and

  3. the interpersonal (the combination of the first two that surfaces in dialogue between pro-choice and pro-life people).

Section one, "The Apple Argument Against Abortion," is a logical, 15-step argument that begins with the fact that we know what an apple is and leads to the conclusion that abortion is intrinsically wrong. The argument is presented with a precision and an insight that will be difficult for the pro-abortionists to contradict — at least on the level of logic.

In this first section of the book, Dr. Kreeft compares the present attack on life in the womb and the move toward euthanasia with war. He draws parallels with the ancient Canaanites, "who sacrificed their children to a bloodthirsty god named Moloch," and to "Hitler's death machine." His most powerful parallel is with the human sacrifice practiced by the Aztecs prior to the arrival of the Spanish conquistadors. Kreeft writes, "About 500 years ago, a strikingly similar culture of death reigned in Aztec Mexico. Some historians estimate that one out of every three children . . . were ritually sacrificed to their bloodthirsty and demanding god . . . exactly the same proportion of children conceived in America who are aborted today" (p. 48).

The second section of Three Approaches to Abortion focuses on 15 of the motives that stir the heart of all who long for the culture of life. These motives range from honesty, patriotism, and religion to love of life and the image of God. Kreeft's language is shockingly to the point. For example, speaking about ethical motivation, he writes: "Persons are ends, not means. Killing them certainly does not treat them as ends. It treats them as cockroaches" (p. 71). And when discussing sex, Kreeft asks rhetorically, "Our no-fault insurance has removed our responsibility for car accidents, and no-fault divorce has removed our responsibility for marriage accidents; why should abortion not be our no-fault sexual insurance that removes our responsibility for sex-accidents?" (pp. 64-65).

To work against the culture of death and for the culture of life is actually a matter of survival. "The camel's nose is already under the tent, and the rest of the camel always follows the nose because it is a one-piece camel. The camel is 'the culture of death.' The nose is abortion. The rest of the camel includes infanticide, active euthanasia, assisted suicide, eugenics, genetic engineering, cloning, and harvesting fetal body parts" (p. 70).

The final section of the book is a dialogue — perhaps "argument" is a better term — between two fictional characters, Libby, who is pro-abortion, and Isa, who is pro-life. If you have ever had a discussion with someone who favors abortion, you will be able to identify with Isa. If you are like me, you will also wish that you had the ready answers that Kreeft's character provides in response to Libby's pro-abortion barbs. A particularly insightful part of their discussion focuses on the definition of a "person." Isa provides the definition that a person is "one who has a natural capacity (emphasis added) to perform personal acts like thinking and choosing" (p. 100). When Libby finds fault with that definition, Isa refines the understanding of capacity. "The point is that your acts follow your being, your essence, your nature. You can't have personal acts unless you are a person. But you could be a person without being able to perform personal acts, whether because you're prevented by external circumstances like drugs or because you're not developed enough yet. A two-day-old infant can't choose or talk yet either, but he's a human being" (p. 101). And thus the definition of person covers the pre-born infant as well.

More than 30 years and millions of "persons" killed. Kreeft calls it a war — a war for the right to life. Three Approaches to Abortion both boosts the pro-life morale and provides refined weapons of logic.

Three Approaches to Abortion: A Thoughtful and Compassionate Guide to Today's Most Controversial Issue
by Peter Kreeft
Published by Ignatius Press
Order it here.

 

 


ACKNOWLEDGEMENT

Regis J. Flaherty. "Three Approaches to Abortion: A Thoughtful and Compassionate Guide to Today's Most Controversial Issue." Lay Witness (January/February 2004): 46.

Reprinted with permission of Lay Witness.

Lay Witness is the flagship publication of Catholics United for the Faith. Featuring articles written by leaders in the Catholic Church, each issue of Lay Witness keeps you informed on current events in the Church, the Holy Father's intentions for the month, and provides formation through biblical and catechetical articles with real-life applications for everyday Catholics.

Copyright 2004 LayWitness




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