Defending Life: A Moral and Legal Case Against Abortion Choice,
by Francis J. Beckwith (Cambridge, 312 pp., $22.99)
Review by RYAN T. ANDERSON
"Supreme Court Settles Abortion Issue”: So declared the New York Times the day after the Court’s Roe v. Wade decision. But as the past 34 years have shown, there is no question less settled in American public life than abortion. The pro-life movement has succeeded in keeping the debate alive — and in his new book, Defending Life, leading pro-life scholar Francis J. Beckwith offers a precise statement of the philosophical and jurisprudential case the movement has developed.
Beckwith begins by defusing the “don’t impose your morality” slogan. Everyone, he argues, recognizes the absurdity of being “personally opposed” to murder but refusing to “impose” that view on others. State neutrality is impossible; either the law recognizes the unborn as persons and protects them, or it does not and permits the killing of them. That the fetus is a person with rights is no more religious a claim than the assertion that the fetus is not. Our task is to determine which claim is true.