Conservative Heavyweight

Anne Morse, Crisis Magazine, September 1, 2003.


Professor Robert P. George is pacing around a Princeton auditorium before 200-plus undergraduates, preparing to wage an intellectual shock-and-awe campaign against illogical thinking.

“Some politicians say that they’re ‘personally opposed’ to abortion, yet ‘pro-choice,” says the 48-year-old professor of constitutional law and moral philosophy. “But we must ask: Is this a position that can survive the test of logical coherence? After all, if abortion is wrong, surely it is wrong because it is the unjust taking of the life of a developing human being.” He pauses to let that sink in and then launches another question: “And if one believes that, then what could possibly justify a regime of law that licenses so grave an injustice?”

“Of course,” George adds, climbing up on a front-row chair and crossing his arms, “If abortion is not a form of homicide, if the developing embryo or fetus has the moral status of an unwanted growth—such as a tumor—there would be no grounds on which to ‘personally oppose’ abortion. So the question is this: Is the developing embryo or fetus a human being or a mere unwanted growth? Notice that this is not a religious or even an ethical question. It is a question of human embryology and developmental biology.”