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Jack Sisson's Life Ethics Blog

We must find new ways through many ethical issues, especially regarding bioethics, medical ethics, and criminal justice. Jack Sisson's 'Life Ethics' blog focuses on numerous areas of concern, including the philosophical and ethical dilemmas surrounding stem-cell research, abortion, medical research, and health care.

'Scarf' - photo by Irum Shahid
Those of you who've visited this blog over the years know that those of us posting here tend (more often than not) to a left-of-center perspective. But, as our mission statement says, "We hope to both start and then further dialogue regarding the beginning of human life" -- and in order to have a dialogue, we recognize that we have to acknowledge the validity of what might be called "responsible opposing points of view."

One of these points of view, I've always thought, has been the principled stand taken by religious (especially Catholic) proponents of the pro-life/anti-abortion position. Such folks are not fiery, single-issue hard-liners. Rather, they assert not just that abortion is wrong, but so is war, capital punishment, and a host of other "liberal" bugaboos.

Consider the organization known as Consistent Life. Originally, they identified themselves as the Seamless Life Network, taking as their central metaphor an episode from the Gospel of John's account (chapter 19:23-27) of Jesus's crucifixion (emphasis added):
When the soldiers had crucified Jesus they took his garments and made four parts, one for each soldier; also his tunic. But the tunic was without seam, woven from top to bottom; so they said to one another, "Let us not tear it, but cast lots for it to see whose it shall be."
For an excellent introduction to the "seamless garment"/consistent-life vision, see the 1984 lecture by Joseph Cardinal Bernardin. Also useful are many of the essays published at by Father Richard McBrien. (Note: McBrien is often lacerated by more conservative Catholics for his reasonableness -- reasonableness being seen, evidently, as a vice rather than a virtue.)

Here's the Consistent Life mission statement:
We are committed to the protection of life, which is threatened in today's world by war, abortion, poverty, racism, capital punishment and euthanasia. We believe that these issues are linked under a 'consistent ethic of life'. We challenge those working on all or some of these issues to maintain a cooperative spirit of peace, reconciliation, and respect in protecting the unprotected.
While one might take issue with any one of those "threats," it's impossible not to admire the spirit standing in opposition to them.

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