Abortion Bioethics Conscience protection Contraception Health Care Reform Philosophy Politics Presidential Actions

Yet another item on the Obama contraception mandate

Here is Prof. Christopher Tollefsen: “Contraception and Healthcare Rights.” I think it’s pretty carefully thought out and argued (one possible quibble based on a quick first reading would be with the “great gravity and urgency” criterion, though that probably has nothing to do with the point about contraception).

And I think Tollefsen implicitly points to another way (I mentioned a few in posts last week) in which there are connections between the contraception issue and the abortion issue. The more contraception is seen as part of normal “health care,” the more we are confusing desires with needs. The more we confuse desires with needs, the more we begin to think it might be intelligible to speak of a “right” to abortion.

For more on the problems with modern (mis)understandings of “rights,” see the section of John Paul II’s Evangelium Vitae entitled “‘Am I my brother’s keeper?’ (Gen 4:9): a perverse idea of freedom.”

And for more on the problems with today’s (mis)understandings of “medicine” or “health care,” see scientist, physician, and philosopher Dr. Leon Kass’s work. I’m thinking especially of part II of his his 1988 Toward a More Natural Science, though all of his work is worthwhile; see also his later Life, Liberty and the Defense of Dignity. (I used to use TMNS when teaching medical ethics; I switched to LLDD after it came out because it’s more up-to-date on some practical issues.)

Kevin Miller

Kevin E. Miller is Assistant Professor of Theology at Franciscan University of Steubenville. His BS (biochemistry and molecular biology), MA (political philosophy), and PhD (theology; dissertation: "Mercy, Justice, and Politics: John Paul II on Capital Punishment") are all from Marquette University. Besides several UFL conference papers over the years, he has contributed chapters to books on sexual morality and Catholic social thought, and published short essays, papers, and book reviews in Linacre Quarterly, National Catholic Bioethics Quarterly, and Communio, among other journals. In fundamental moral theology, he is especially interested in natural-law theory, virtue ethics, and the distinctively Christian contribution to moral thought. In applied moral theology, he works especially in the areas of sexual, social, and medical/health-care morality. With regard to texts/authors, he studies especially Scripture, Aquinas, Henri de Lubac, and John Paul II. His website: