By Dave Andrusko
National Right to Life
I very much like his beginning, one which speaks volumes. His family did not talk about abortion, he tells us. However the idealism on display when there were occasional appeals at his church to donate diapers to the local crisis pregnancy center, deeply impressed Anderson.
That somewhat idyllic approach impressed on me the vague but definite intuition that life in the womb was worth preserving and the woman who bore it worth supporting. This impression that being pro-life means supporting the people whose wombs bear life as much as the life itself has never left me.
As he grew older, Anderson experienced, or came in contact with people who had, many life-altering difficulties, including infertility and miscarriages. A fair reading would be that all this sharpened his moral intuitions.
Anderson is a doctoral candidate in Christian ethics at Oxford University, so it shouldn’t surprise us that his essay plunges into depths we wouldn’t find in casual pro-life discussions. In my humble opinion, he may underplay what he calls “the hodgepodge of reasons” pro-lifers typically offer to explain their position–appeals to God, science, and “to claims about human dignity or rights.”
However, that notwithstanding, consider the next paragraph:
Yet as important as those arguments are, they are better understood as articulating a conceptual structure for intuitions and perceptions that exceed their limits — intuitions and perceptions that animate the individual outreach of most pro-life activists. The pro-life outlook is more enchanted, more infused with a secular sense of the sacred, than most of our philosophical arguments allow. Identifying that ethos, and attempting to name it, is crucial for understanding how pro-lifers think — and why they are so earnestly devoted to their cause.