Culture and Abortion

Published by Gracewing Publishers  |  June, 2013  |   308 Pages  |  $24.95   Purchase

Book Précis

In Christifideles Laici (1988), Pope John Paul II exhorts his readers to recognize 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 Paul II calls the "civilization 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.

Reviews for Culture and Abortion

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Launch of  Culture and Abortion , Oxford & Cambridge Club, July 2013

Launch of Culture and Abortion, Oxford & Cambridge Club, July 2013

“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 and author of The Forum and the Tower: How Scholars and Politicians have Imagined the World

“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

“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

di Michelino, Domenico.  Madonna of the Foundlings.  1446. Painting. Ospedale degli Innocenti di Firenze, Florence.

di Michelino, Domenico. Madonna of the Foundlings. 1446. Painting. Ospedale degli Innocenti di Firenze, Florence.

“The way cultures shift from seeing something as an unequivocal wrong to seeing the same thing as a fundamental right is one of the perplexing spectacles of our age. Intrinsic to the success of such projects is the abuse of language, the inversion of understandings and the relentless application of emotional pressure to the collective public consciousness. But even grasping the nature of such strategies is not enough - also required is a far deeper process of cultural excavation, to unearth the roots of the duplicities and the shift from reason to emotion in public debate. In Culture and Abortion, Edward Short has made a vital and courageous beginning to a new way of approaching these phenomena in relation to abortion.”   John Waters, Irish Times columnist and author of Beyond Consolation: How we became too “Clever” for God and Our Own Good

“Edward Short has written a witty, erudite and passionate book demanding reflection and re-reading. Instead of viewing abortion through its social and psychological effects, he has taken a different road – that of looking at the whole tragedy from the aspect of culture. . . . The author reminds us that if English literature had reflected the pro-choice position, Dickens would have been silenced before he began to write; there would have been no David Copperfield or Pip or one of Dickens’ most attractive heroines, Little Dorrit. “The pro-abortion mind abominates frailty” he reminds us. . . . Short raises so many interesting ideas and themes it is impossible to do justice to them.”   Francis Phillips, The Catholic Herald

"This is a necessary book. The author has begun the long-needed project of making sense of current cultural life by reference to the inhuman things that have forced their way into its center. The commentary is perceptive, the specific topics relevant and exceptionally diverse, and the style clear and engaging. It is a project others should reflect on and continue with the same spirit and insight."   Continue reading...   James Kalb, Esq., Chronicles