Doesn’t the pro-life view “absolutize” biological human life?

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Not at all. Although the pro-life advocate believes that biological human life is important, he or she certainly does not believe that it is absolute. For biological human life without the natural inherent capacity to function as a person is probably not fully human. And it is questionable whether the taking of such a life or the permitting of such a life to die can be classified as homicide.

For example, I do not think it is homicide to pull the plug on a respirator that is biologically sustaining a brain-dead patient. Such a patient's natural capacity for personal acts is simply not present. Of course, other questions surrounding the problem of the withdrawal of certain forms of health care are much more complex and fall outside the scope of this series. [1]

In any event, the pro-life advocate does not absolutize biological human life and is willing to apply his principles critically and to think reflectively in morally challenging situations.


  1. Justice Harry Blackmun, in "The 1973 Supreme Court Decisions on State Abortion Laws: Excerpts from Opinion in Roe v. Wade," in The Problem of Abortion, Second edition, Joel Feinberg, editor (Belmont, California: Wadsworth, 1984), p. 195. [up]

Author: Francis J. Beckwith, adapted from a series in Christian Research Journal, Spring 1991. Provided with permission by Summit Ministries and the author.

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