(Leominster, UK: Gracewing, 2013)
Paperback: 307 pages
In Christifideles Laici (1988), Pope John Paul II exhorts his readers to recognise 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 John Paul II calls the “civilisation 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.
“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.
“One of the wonderful things about this book is that it doesn’t talk about human rights. There is no soporific analysis of conflicting 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 literary 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.