The Personalist Project

Accessed on September 21, 2023 - 4:45:17

A personalist approach to the Pro-life cause

Katie van Schaijik, Jan 23, 2012

The 39th sorrowful anniversary of Roe vs. Wade is a good occasion for high-lighting an important paper by friend and fellow personalist, Peter J. Colosi.  In it he cautions pro-lifers against a growing trend in the movement, viz. a too exclusive reliance on empirical science to the neglect of deeper, philosophical issues.  He freely grants that scientific developments making it undisputably evident that even the tiniest zygote is a distinct and absolutely unique human being have been a great benefit to our cause.  

Nonetheless, the trend to use the force of that argument as the sole argument is dangerous, for it tends to miss important dimensions of reality related to the meaning of procreation, respect for women, and the meaning of personal existence. 

It is in drawing attention to and dwelling on these other dimensions of reality that personalists have an indispensable contribution to make.  

Colosi challenges Catholics who are tempted to treat the question of personhood as irrelevant to the moral question of abortion by showing compellingly that the Church herself grounds her prohibition not in biology, but in the value and dignity of persons.

to cast off the mysterious question of the personhood of the tiniest members of our species and to call that question irrelevant to the moral question represents another case of a portion of the pro-life movement drifting off to the “secure” world of empirical science, and it also represents a lack of attention to the texts of the Church on the matter. 

It's an academic article with extensive footnotes and some technical language, so it won't be to everyone's taste.  But it's not the only item he has at his website. If you're not going to the March for Life this year, may I suggest that a great way to mark the day would be by reading one of Dr. Colosi's articles or listening to one of his talks?  All of them reflect his personalist training, his profoundly personalist approach to bio-ethics, and his deep concern for growing the culture of life.