Pro-Life Aristotle
Taking both sides of the abortion debate seriously.


LOPEZ: What’s the least compelling argument supporters of legal abortion make?

KACZOR: “It is my body, it is my choice.” This is really more a slogan than an argument, but as an argument it is not a good one. In abortion, there are two bodies involved, the body of the pregnant woman and the body of the human being in utero. We know there are two bodies involved because these two bodies can be of different blood types and different races, and it can happen that one of them dies and the other lives and vice versa. If there were only one body involved, then absurdities follow such as that a pregnant woman has two heads, four arms, and, if she is carrying a boy, also a penis. Further, “choice” is a euphemism disguising the reality. Everyone supports good choices that are just and promote human welfare. The question is whether abortion is such a choice.

LOPEZ: What’s different about your book and your argument?

KACZOR: I’ve tried to write a comprehensive, up-to-date, and clear account of why abortion, the choice to intentionally kill a human being prior to birth, is always morally wrong. The book is comprehensive in that it deals with all the major arguments given by philosophers over the last 40 years to justify abortion. It is up-to-date in that I took into account the latest research in an area of ongoing philosophical dispute and inquiry. Finally, I tried to write it in such a way that both regular people and professional philosophers could read it with profit.

My argument is not faith-based, but rather based on reason and evidence. There is no appeal to theological authority; there are no Scripture citations to justify conclusions, and no premises that come from ecclesial authority. The case against abortion is made to all persons of good will, regardless of their faith or lack thereof.

LOPEZ: What’s justice got to do with it?

KACZOR: Aristotle understood justice as giving to each what is due. Abortion is clearly a justice issue. If defenders of abortion are right, then critics of abortion are doing something unjust in trying to curtail and criticize the legitimate actions of women who are terminating their pregnancies. If pro-life advocates are right, then those who perform, obtain, or defend abortions are doing something that is unjust, depriving innocent human beings of their lives. Whatever your view of abortion, justice is involved.

LOPEZ: Is it just to tell a teen she’s got to have a kid when we, culturally, and specifically in some classrooms — sometimes by mandate (see Mike Bloomberg’s sex-ed mandate in New York City schools) — provide no coherent view of the dignity of the human person, and a moral education, which would give a boy and a girl reason to wait?

KACZOR: Of course, no one should ever be forced to become pregnant, but a pregnant woman already “has a kid.” She is an expectant mother with an existing relationship to her own child, who is developing in utero. After pregnancy has begun, the question is not, “Do we force her to have a kid?” but rather “Will we support this expectant mother and her child?” People of good will should answer “yes” to their latter question with their actions. I do think that we do young people a disservice when we do not give them a sound moral education. If we promote an “anything goes” policy with respect to sexual behavior, we can hardly be surprised when unwanted pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections arise.

LOPEZ: What does Aristotle have to do with the poor mom who feels as if she has no alternatives when she realizes she is pregnant? The desperate teenager? The single professional who can’t both do her job and have this child?

KACZOR: I believe that everyone, including the poor mom, the desperate teenager, and the single professional, desires to find true happiness. I also believe that Aristotle, and even more fully Thomas Aquinas, showed that the way to true happiness consists in activity in accordance with virtue. There can be, therefore, no authentic happiness found in activity that is unjust. Aristotle’s perspective has found a powerful analogue in the findings of contemporary positive psychology, which emphasizes the concept of flow in activity, strong relationships with others, and forgiveness.

I know that many women face unbelievably difficult circumstances in their pregnancy. For this reason, I think that all people of good will have an obligation to help them, to celebrate their heroism when they choose life, and to love them even when they do not. I can think of one case in particular: a young student, not yet finished with her education, who found herself pregnant with a man she did not know well. With so many responsibilities, both to her extended family and to her studies, she felt desperate, alone, and trapped. It was truly an act of heroism for that woman to decide to place that child for adoption. I know the woman in the story very well. She is my birth mother. I feel such an enormous debt of gratitude to her. Even though her choice was unbelievably difficult, I know and she knows that she made the right decision not to end my life. I don’t think there is any woman who in the long term regrets, even in the most difficult of circumstances, making the choice for life. But I know there are many thousands of women who still remember and mourn, even decades later, the date that their baby would have been born.