The Church and Abortion: A Catholic Dissent by George Dennis O'Brien
This provocative book takes a critical look at what is increasingly viewed as the central political issue for Catholics—abortion. From pro-choice politicians being denied communion to Democrats being called "the party of death," for some of the most vocal Catholic leaders, the abortion issue often trumps all others. The author, a practicing Catholic who is against abortion in principle, believes the Church is on the wrong course with this issue, with grievous results for the Church and American society more broadly. He gives a brief history of abortion legislation, then explores the issue from legal, moral, and Christian perspectives, presenting compelling reasons why Church leaders and Catholics should stop trying to overturn Roe v. Wade and reconsider the issue.
George Dennis O'Brien is former president of the University of Rochester and Bucknell University. He has also been a professor and dean at Princeton University and Middlebury College. He is the author of several books on Catholicism or higher education, including Finding the Voice of the Church and The Idea of a Catholic University.
Table of Contents
Preface Chapter 1: A Foundational Issue Chapter 2: Abortion and Law Chapter 3: Morality: Not Too Much Theory Chapter 4: Rights, Persons, and Pregnancy Chapter 5: Church Morality Chapter 6: Notable Lacks and Present Temptations Afterword For Further Reading References Index About the Author
What People are Saying About This
Lisa Sowle Cahill
O'Brien takes on a highly vexed topic in a fresh and compelling way. He identifies overblown abortion rhetoric as a barrier to civility in the Church, to honest discernment of abortion's real moral costs, and to more effective ways to reduce abortion. But unlike other works decrying U.S. Catholic abortion politics, The Church and Abortion accessibly rounds out the full picture of Christian existence biblically and theologically. Appealing to God's Creation and Jesus' community of faith, hope, and love, O'Brien gives eloquent testimony to the mystery of Christian identity, to Christian compassion, and to a genuine commitment to Life.
This book offers readers a balanced approach to abortion. O'Brien gives voice to what intelligent, fair-minded people feel, but lack the words to express. Clear, persuasive, honest arguments lay waste to the bumper-sticker bombast from both sides of the abortion divide. The book is a gentle and effective example of how hard issues need not harden hearts but rather can be occasions for us to grow in wisdom and grace. Would that it could be required reading for all our Catholic bishops.
George Dennis O'Brien has written a potent critique of the efforts of the Catholic bishops to make abortion illegal once again. Focusing on their lurid language, their heavy-handed pressure on Catholic legislators, and the incoherence and inconsistencies of their stance on the legal details of anti-abortion legislation, he makes clear that they have a weak case, even in their own terms.
George Dennis O'Brien recognizes that no one will agree with all that he has written on abortion, but every reader will be challenged and stimulated by this probing book.