Busted Halo
googling god
The Busted Halo Question Box
Ask our spiritual experts virtually anything!
This is the place where you can ask all of those burning questions that you wouldn't dare ask in person. We will post questions here (using your byline only with permission); we guarantee an answer to everyone.

Have your own question? Then pitch it to us!

Caitlin Kennell Kim
Mary
Fr. Rick Malloy, SJ
General Questions
Fr. Tom Ryan, CSP
Ecumenical, Interfaith
Neela Kale
Culture, Moral Theology
Ann Naffziger, M.A., M.Div.
Bible
Mike Hayes
Swingman/Editor
 
facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedintumblrmailfacebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedintumblrmail
Our readers asked:

Is Eviction From the Womb Analogous to Letting A Terminal Patient Die Naturally?

Neela Kale Answers:

Q: Judith Jarvis Thomson wrote what may be the most famous paper in bioethics, “A Moral Defense of Abortion.” She compares abortion to unplugging someone from life support in her famous “unplugging the violinist” analogy. Since there is a difference between killing and letting die, her argument seems to only apply to eviction-based abortions. Is there a way to convince someone that eviction from the womb is different than unplugging from a machine without appealing to theology? Not that I am against appealing to theology, but to do so would make the argument un-applicable to non-Catholics.

Our legal and medical systems recognize a difference between killing and letting die. End-of-life care directives may stipulate the circumstances under which a person does not wish to be resuscitated or receive life support. But they do not dictate in advance that life-ending drugs should be administered. (In physician-assisted suicide, which is always immoral , a patient requests assistance once required conditions – such as a terminal diagnosis – have been met.) Letting someone die involves letting the natural processes in his or her illness run their course; killing someone involves intentionally intervening to hasten death. Similarly, evicting an unborn child from the womb is an intentional intervention in the natural process of pregnancy. The analogy to unplugging a sick person from life support is weak. If you are looking for a way to begin a conversation about “extractive” methods of abortion without appealing to religious teaching, this might be a place to start.

 
facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedintumblrmailfacebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedintumblrmail
The Author : Neela Kale
Neela Kale is a writer and catechetical minister based in the Archdiocese of Portland. She served with the Incarnate Word Missionaries in Mexico and earned a Master of Divinity at the Jesuit School of Theology. Some of her best theological reflection happens on two wheels as she rides her bike around the hills of western Oregon.
See more articles by (173).
Please note that the editorial staff reserves the right to not post comments it deems to be inappropriate and/or malicious in nature, as well as edit comments for length, clarity and fairness.
powered by the Paulists