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Autumn 2007: Table of Contents
Volume XXVIII — No. 3

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C The Ethics of Life

Medical Advances have exposed inconsistencies in the Roman Catholic hierarchy's position on life

What made it so difficult for much of Terri Schiavo’s family to accept the decision to let her die was the remembered person, an actual social and personal existence that had been; its permanent loss was something with which they were unwilling to come to terms. The late Cardinal Bernardin described the new approach to the sanctity of life that had permeated the official pronouncements of the post-Vatican II church as a “consistent ethic of life.”

Sheila Briggs

C Stem-Cell Research and the Affirmation of Life

While adult stem cells may have a proven record, most scientists believe the future lies with embryonic stem-cell research

Whether or not they are fully informed about its intricacies, almost
everyone in the United States seems to have an opinion about stem-cell research. Stem cells are
either totipotent or pluripotent cells: They have the amazing ability to develop into many or even all the different types of cells that constitute the human body...

Rosemarie Tong

Fetal Surgery Then and Now

There is too much emphasis on the fetus and not enough on the woman

In 1981, doctors at the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF) performed the first open fetal
surgery, a last-ditch, ultimately unsuccessful effort to save a dying baby. They partially removed a fetus from inside a pregnant woman’s uterus, repaired a urinary obstruction, and then sealed the tiny patient back into its mother’s breached womb. The team of surgeons—who had been practicing on animal models for years—created a new field of medicine, with the “unborn patient” at its center.

Monica Casper

Personhood and Life Issues

A Catholic view

Several important contemporary moral and legal problems surround what are referred to as “life issues.” These problems are often further complicated by the fact that they are discussed in reference to concepts like “personhood.” Despite the obscurity of concepts like these to the average
layperson, they are central to important philosophical and moral discussions— about, for example, when in fetal life personhood begins, if and when at the end of life personhood is lost, and whether some nonhuman beings might be persons.

Dan Dombrowski

Tragedy on the National Stage

Conservative intervention into the Terri Schiavo case was a desservice  to everybody

You could say that for a moment, the government of the United States stood still. In March 2005, congressional leaders pushed through a bill that was quite unprecedented in American history. They called it “Terri’s Law”—and in a moment of high drama and international media attention, the president flew to Washington from his vacation in Texas just to sign it. The bill authorized the federal courts to intervene in the case of a Florida woman, Terri Schiavo. As doctors testified and the state courts ruled, Schiavo had been in a persistent vegetative state and beyond medical help for 15 years.

Frederick Clarkson

On the Outside Looking In

Democrats for Life of America: small base, smaller impact

Democrats for Life of America was supposed to change the direction and ideology of the Democratic Party. Its leader laid claim to a mission that would “get in there and battle naral and the wellfunded pro-choice groups” as well as “free” the Democratic Party, which had “allowed itself to be controlled by prochoice forces and suffered as a result.” But, much like its heralded “new national office, located in Washington, D.C.,” Democrats for Life of America (DFLA) is more myth than fact, more fantasy than reality.

Roger J. Limoges


Editor’s Note


C In Catholic Circles


  • Debora Spar reviews Liza Mundy's Everything Conceivable
  • Jill Morrison reviews Melody Rose’s Safe Legal and Unavailable? Abortion Politics in the United States
  • William Smith reviews Kristen Luker ’s When Sex Goes to School: Warring Views on Sex— and Sex Education— Since the Sixties
  • Ted G. Jelen, PH.D. reviews Kathleen Kennedy Townsend’s Failing America's Faithful: How Today's Churches Are Mixing God with Politics and Losing their Way

A list of new and noteworthy books

C Postscript
In their own words: supporters and critics of the church speak

Back Cover
Index: Life, Death and Longevity