Culture and Abortion
In Christifideles Laici (1988), Pope John
Paul II exhorts his readers to recognize that "The inviolability of
the person, which is a reflection of the absolute inviolability of God, finds its primary and fundamental expression
in the inviolability of human life." For this great champion of life, "the common outcry, which is justly made on behalf of human rights ... the right to health,
to home, to work, to family, to culture-is false and illusory if the right to life, the most basic and fundamental
right and the condition for all other personal rights, is not defended with maximum determination." This is the conviction that prompted Edward Short to write Culture and
Abortion, a study which looks at how our own culture betrays the inviolability of life
by invoking what feminists call 'reproductive rights' to justify killing children in the womb. Examining the scourge
of abortion from a cultural perspective, Edward Short draws on history, literature and the encyclicals of popes
to show how defending the right to life can help us to reaffirm an understanding of culture that is based not on
human pride or human power but on what Pope Paul II calls the "civilization
of life and love." Wide-ranging and incisive, Culture and
Abortion takes a fresh and provocative look at the often unacknowledged evil that continues
to define our culture of death.
‘Edward Short has had the brilliant idea of making the pro-life case through a series
of portraits from literature and biography. I hope that the drama of Life, seen through the lens of his camera,
will touch many readers whom the bio-ethical arguments leave cold.’ Aidan Nichols OP
978 085244 820 5
Contents, Preface and Introduction
Review by Francis Phillips in Catholic
Homiletic & Pastoral Review - Book Review
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"In these finely wrought essays, Edward Short explains how culture can stifle our
ability to distinguish good from evil. Along the way, though dealing with a melancholy theme, he rewards the reader
with fascinating sketches of great life-affirming personalities."
Professor Mary Ann Glendon Learned Hand Professor of Law at Harvard. Author
of The Forum and the Tower: How Scholars and Politicians have imagined
"One of the wonderful things about this book is that it doesn't talk about human rights claims. People choose
abortion because they fear poverty, fear social shame, fear being left by their husband or boyfriend, fear peer
disapproval. To win this battle we have to conquer fear with love. Culture and abortion
celebrates people who have made the choice for life and love over death and despair.
In addition to many literacy and historical references, it also offers a critique of Matthew Arnold's account of
culture and what G. k. Chesterton called 'state ritualism without theology'. Unlike so many books with the word 'abortion' in the title, which leave the reader feeling sad and
depressed, this work is deeply hopeful."
Professor Tracey Rowland, John Paul II Institute, Melbourne
"Edward Short has had the brilliant idea of making the pro-life case through a series of portraits from literature
and biography. I hope that the drama of life, seen through the lens of his camera, will touch many readers whom
the bio-ethical arguments leave cold."
Aidan Nichols, OP
"The way cultures shift from seeing something as an unequivocal wrong to seeing the same thing as a fundamental
right is one of the perplexing spectacles of our age. Intrinsic to the success of such projects is the abuse of
language, the inversion of understandings and the relentless application of emotional pressure to the collective
public consciousness. But even grasping the nature of such strategies is not enough — also required is a far deeper
process of cultural excavation, to unearth the roots of the duplicities and the shift from reason to emotion in
public debate. In Culture and Abortion, Edward Short has made
a vital and courageous beginning to a new way of approaching these phenomena in relation to abortion."
John Waters, Irish Times columnist. Author of Beyond Consolation: How we become
too "clever" for God and our own good.
Edward Short is the author of Newman and his Contemporaries and Newman and his Family. He lives with his wife and daughter in New York.
The Version of this page: 26th February 2014