Kaczor, Christopher
50 Articles at Lifeissues.net

Raised in Seattle, Christopher Kaczor holds a B.A. from Boston College (1992), a M.M.S. (1994) and a Ph.D. (1996) from the University of Notre Dame. He did post-doctoral work in 1996-1997 and returned as a Fulbright Scholar in 2002-2003. He served previously as Assistant Professor in the Department of Philosophy at Loyola New Orleans and as tenured Associate Professor in the School of Philosophy at The Catholic University of America where he was also concurrently Director of the University Honors Program. Dr. Kaczor has been interviewed on issues of ethics, philosophy, and religion for newspapers and radio stations across the country as well as on television on EWTN, ABC, NBC, Fox, CBS, MSNBC, and The Today Show. Contact: ckaczor@aol.com Website:http://myweb.lmu.edu/ckaczor/

Contact: ckaczor@aol.com



Philosophy and Theology: Reflections on Debating Dignity

An asymmetry exists between women with crisis pregnancies who give birth and women with crisis pregnancies who get abortions. Among women who abort, some do not regret their experiences but others experience profound regret. Among women who give birth, virtually none regret their choice and virtually all believe it was the right decision.

Date posted: 2020-12-07

Philosophy and Theology: What Justifies the Right to Live?

Who has a right to live, and why? Much continues to be written on the moral status of the human embryo, but the best biological and ethical research points to the truth that all human beings - even in the first stages of life - merit equal basic protection from intentional harm.

Date posted: 2019-08-05

Philosophy and Theology: Notes on Infanticide

Until we had moral clarity about the nature of transgenetic beings, we should treat such creatures as if they had moral rights on the supposition that we should err on the side of protecting what very well may turn out to be animals of a rational nature. We already know that all human beings are members of a rational species, so all human beings merit respect as persons, including all newly born human beings.

Date posted: 2019-07-01

Philosophy and Theology: Notes on Pro-Life Consistency, Personhood Potentiality, and Prayer for Healing

As contemporary debates indicate, the relationship of religion and science remains a contentious one in the minds of many scholars. In a sense, faith - which by definition is not simply knowledge - seems opposed to any kind of empirical justification. Yet at times Scripture itself seems to appeal to empirical justification in order to demonstrate the power of God.

Date posted: 2019-05-27

Philosophy and Theology: Notes on Human Dignity

In addition to the ambiguity of the term "dignity," Pinker sees three problems with making use of dignity as a central principle of bioethics, namely, that dignity is relative, fungible, and can be harmful.

Date posted: 2019-04-25

Philosophy and Theology: Notes on Fetal Interventions

The ethics of fetal surgery raises numerous questions. In this reflection, I would like to consider only three of them. Is the fetal human being a "patient" and, if so, under what conditions? Why does the "reduction" of a twin pregnancy to one baby cause such difficulty for defenders of abortion? Is it morally permissible to prevent a dying fetal twin from bringing about the death or serious injury of a healthy fetal twin by means of umbilical cord occlusion?

Date posted: 2019-03-05

Coitus, But Not Other Kinds of Sexual Activity, Promotes Health

The empirical evidence suggests that coitus is associated with significant psychological and physical benefits and that noncoital sexual activity is associated with significant psychological and physical harms.

Date posted: 2019-02-03

Do Women Regret Giving Birth When the Baby is Doomed to Die?

Researchers find an absence of regret in 97.5 percent of participants who continue a pregnancy in which the baby is "doomed to die." With emphatic certainty, women report enhanced relationship with the baby, with themselves, and with family despite giving birth after lethal fetal diagnosis. Abortion does not have similar results.

Date posted: 2019-02-02

Philosophy and Theology: Contemporary Discussions of Parenthood

Philosophers and theologians have devoted increasing attention to parenthood. One topic of interest is the relationship between parental rights and parental duties.

Date posted: 2019-01-19

Philosophy and Theology: Disability

The basic equality of all human beings is challenged by an ethics of exclusion on various fronts, not least of which is the push to exclude severely mentally disabled human beings. The topic of severe mental disability raises numerous issues of interest. This reflection explores two fundamental issues raised by severe mental disability. The first is how to properly define disability itself, and the second is the moral status of severely mentally disabled human beings.

Date posted: 2018-12-12

Philosophy and Theology: Responses to 'After- Birth Abortion'

After the online publication of Alberto Giubilini and Francesca Minerva's article "After-Birth Abortion: Why Should the Baby Live?" there was an immediate and almost overwhelmingly negative reaction from around the world.

Date posted: 2018-09-22

Philosophy and Theology: Reproductive Rights

In common parlance, synonyms for "reproductive rights" include "reproductive autonomy," "reproductive justice," or even more euphemistically, "women's health." But what exactly are reproductive rights? What are the scope and limits (if any) of reproductive rights? What is the basis for the legal and moral duties that come with reproducing?

Date posted: 2018-09-12

Philosophy and Theology: Is Giving Birth More Dangerous than Aborting?

In the debates about the ethics and laws governing abortion, it is sometimes claimed that the risk of death is higher in giving birth than in aborting. Three recent works take up this claim and provide powerful evidence that it is not justified.

Date posted: 2018-08-25

Philosophy and Theology: End of Life Questions

As baby boomers enter retirement and age, it is likely that end-of-life issues will gain greater and greater public attention. Several recent articles reflect on these issues. In "Making Christian Life and Death Decisions," Rev. Kevin Flannery, SJ, of the Gregorian University, offers a helpful look at end-of-life issues such as euthanasia, artificial nutrition and hydration, and life-sustaining treatments, making use of the teaching of St. Thomas Aquinas.

Date posted: 2018-08-08

Duties to Children

Scholars have recently turned their attention to the subject of children, specifically our duties toward them, including questions about their adoption. Mhairi Cowden's article "What's Love Got to Do with It? Why a Child Does Not Have a Right to Be Loved" critiques the view of Matthew Liao that children have a right to be loved.

Date posted: 2018-08-02

Reflections on Euthanasia

Richard John Neuhaus once said that bioethicists "guide the unthinkable on its passage through the debatable on the way to becoming the justifiable until it is finally established as unexceptionable." The essays examined in these reflections are cases in point.

Date posted: 2018-07-28

The Ostrich Defense of Abortion

These abortion advocates stick their heads in the sand and demonstrate their ignorance of even the most basic facts of the pro-life position.

Date posted: 2018-03-13

Is Speciesism like Racism and Sexism?

Defending the position that human beings have a special dignity because of their rational nature does not in any way imply that non-rational animals are not also deserving of a certain respect and appropriate treatment. While racism and sexism are moral evils, so-called "speciesism" is not morally wrong and cannot be compared to them.

Date posted: 2016-04-30

Why Governments Haven't, and Shouldn't, Recognize Polygamy

Despite the example set by the Biblical patriarchs, Western societies have traditionally outlawed polygamy, for reasons both religious and secular. In his recent book, John Witte Jr. gives a history of the arguments for and against polygamy, making a compelling case that polygamy should not be recognized today.

Date posted: 2016-04-26

Protecting the Vulnerable: Why We Must Fight for the Inviolability of Life

A new book clearly examines and answers the most important questions surrounding medical law and ethics, especially in the realm of end-of-life issues. We all have a right to live, but that right is often wrongly understood. Ethicists, lawyers, and judges frequently assume it entails either a right to terminate our lives at will or an obligation to extend them by any means possible.

Date posted: 2015-04-15

Love and Unity: Sexual Ethics in the Modern World

One Body, by Alexander Pruss, melds rigorous philosophical analysis and insightful moral theology to advance a clearly-articulated system of sexual ethics based on the call to love.

Date posted: 2014-01-09

The End of the Pro-Life Physician?

Today, almost everyone disapproves of racial, ethnic, or religious discrimination. Yet important segments of our society support a different sort of discrimination which prevents conscientious objectors to abortion, including Catholics, from participating on an equal footing in the field of medicine.

Date posted: 2012-12-25

The Perils of Polygamy

Even aside from the sociological data, there is an inherent inequality in polygamous marriage. In monogamous marriage, spouses give themselves as spouses to each other unreservedly, unconditionally, and entirely. Now, giving oneself as a husband or wife to one's spouse does not exclude giving of oneself in ways that are not distinctly marital to other people (such as playing tennis with a business partner, or going to the movies with a group of friends). Part of the marriage vow is the promise of sexual fidelity, the bodily manifestation of one's commitment as spouse entirely to the spouse and to the spouse alone.

Date posted: 2012-07-28

The Importance of Dignity: A Reply to Steven Pinker

From its ancient Stoic origins to its modern Kantian formulations, human dignity is an important concept for sound ethical thinking. We must distinguish dignity as attributed, dignity as intrinsic worth, and dignity as flourishing.

Date posted: 2012-02-20

Let's Talk about Abortion: A Response to Dennis O'Brien

Fetal killing imposes a serious bodily harm on an innocent human being. The law should prohibit abortion just as it does other serious harms to the well-being of persons, such as assault, rape, kidnapping, and theft.

Date posted: 2011-09-27

Equal Basic Rights for All, Born and Unborn

Declaration of Human Rights: "Everyone is entitled to all the rights and freedoms set forth in this Declaration, without distinction of any kind, such as race, colour, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status." Unfortunately, political, legal, and social recognition for all human beings remains more an aspiration than an achievement in the contemporary world, especially with respect to human beings who are in utero.

Date posted: 2011-04-19

In Defense of Live Action

To seek to deceive is not to lie, at least as that term is understood by Augustine or Aquinas. Since deceiving is not intrinsically evil, it is the sort of act that in some circumstances may be justified. The circumstance of saving innocent human life seems like just the sort of circumstance that justifies deceiving others.

Date posted: 2011-04-13

The Fatal Position

A new, supposedly objective book on the abortion debate relentlessly tips the scale against life. The Fetal Position: A Rational Approach to the Abortion Issue, seeks to lay out in the most charitable way all the chief arguments for and against the moral permissibility of abortion.

Date posted: 2011-02-19

Abortion, Conscience, and Doctors

Suggestions to end conscience protection ignore the importance of conscience and rely on a circular -- and baseless -- understanding of a woman's "right" to abortion. Following such suggestions would be detrimental to the entire health care system.

Date posted: 2010-11-14

God of Desire

God is love: The words are so common, so obvious, so innocuous. It was not what most people expected as the topic of Pope Benedict XVI's first encyclical. Yet in it, he takes the reader beyond the superficial and trivial, offering a profound and sophisticated work that explores the connection between revelation and the deepest yearnings of the human heart.

Date posted: 2010-10-19

Seven Principles of Catholic Social Teaching

These seven principles - respect for the human person, promotion of the family, the individual's right to own property, the common good, subsidiarity, the dignity of work and workers, and pursuit of peace and care for the poor - summarize some of the essentials of Catholic social teaching from Leo XIII through Benedict XVI. However, at the heart of Catholic social teaching is something both simple and noble: an effort to make the actions and words of Jesus real again today to transform and uplift social life for all people in light of the gospel.

Date posted: 2010-07-19

A Pope's Answer to the Problem of Pain

Suffering is part of human existence from birth until death, and every human person suffers in a variety of ways: physically, psychologically, socially, and spiritually. The Bible provides many examples: one's own death, the danger of death, the death of children or friends, sterility, homesickness, persecution, mockery, scorn, loneliness, abandonment, remorse, watching the wicked prosper while the just suffer, the unfaithfulness of spouse and friends, and the misfortunes of one's homeland. Suffering in one form or another accompanies each of us every day. It is an inescapable feature of human existence.

Date posted: 2010-06-21

Build the Culture of Life

For believers of all ages and states of life, missionary fields exist not only in far-off lands but at the grocery store, in recreational activities, in the neighborhood, and in the care of vulnerable persons. In proclaiming by word and deed the gospel of life, everyone has a role to play in enlightening consciences, solving social problems, and living together in justice, peace, and support of life. Evangelium Vitae calls all of us to work for human dignity for all human beings as part of our human responsibility.

Date posted: 2010-05-25

Does the Catholic Church Hate Women?

The Catholic Church is subjected to a great deal of suspicion, if not outright scorn, when it comes to its treatment of women. Does the Church treat women as “second class”? In short, does the Catholic Church hate women? Few people would put the question that strongly, yet many believe the answer is “yes.”

Date posted: 2010-05-11

Pro-Life Doctors: A New Oxymoron?

In November 2007, the Committee on Ethics of the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) published Committee Opinion #385 entitled, "The Limits of Conscientious Refusal in Reproductive Medicine." The committee opinion sought to "maximize accommodation of an individual's religious or moral beliefs while avoiding imposition of these beliefs on others or interfering with the safe, timely, and financially feasible access to reproductive health care that all women deserve."

Date posted: 2010-04-15

Does Personhood Begin with Conscious Desires?

David Boonin's "A Defense of Abortion" (2003) argues that without present desires of some kind a being cannot have the right to life. Since desires presuppose brain development of at least 25-32 weeks, abortion prior to this time does not kill a being with a right to live. This paper questions Boonin's thesis by arguing that (1) this criterion is under-inclusive, for it excludes beings that clearly are persons, (2) this conception is incompatible with inalienable rights, and thus cannot succeed, as Boonin hopes, on grounds that are already accepted by those that are pro-life, (3) this account does not exclude other grounds for thinking that killing is wrong, grounds that could include beings without desires, (4) this analysis cannot secure that people have equal rights to life, and (5) this justification of the right to life does not exclude infanticide.

Date posted: 2010-02-20

Could Artificial Wombs End the Abortion Debate?

Although artificial wombs may seem fanciful when first considered, certain trends suggest they may become reality. Between 1945 and the 1970s, the weight at which premature infants could survive dropped dramatically, moving from 1000 grams to around 400 grams. In 1973, the U.S. Supreme Court, in deciding Roe v. Wade, considered viability to begin around twenty-eight weeks. In 2000, premature babies were reported to have survived at eighteen weeks. Advanced incubators already in existence save thousands of children born prematurely each year. It is highly likely that such incubators will become even more advanced as technology progresses.

Date posted: 2010-01-22

The Tragic Case of Jodie and Mary

The tragic case of conjoined twins Mary and Jodie made news around the world and sent ethicists into speculation. Born in Manchester, England on August 8, 2000, Mary and Jodie's appearance was so unusual and their disabilities so severe that several doctors had to excuse themselves from giving care to the twins. Jodie and Mary were joined at the lower abdomen and shared a spine. Though both twins had nearly a full complement of organs, Jodie's heart and lungs maintained both of their lives since Mary's were not sufficiently developed to pump oxygenated blood. Doctors predicted that Jodie's circulatory system would give out in a matter of weeks under the strain of supporting both girls. It was a decision to rival Solomon's: Should one twin be sacrificed in order to save the other or should both be allowed to perish?

Date posted: 2009-12-12

Marital Acts Without Marital Vows: Social Justice and Premarital Sex

In our divided Church, some conceive of the moral life for the most part in terms of personal justice; others, for the most part, in terms of social justice. Those primarily concerned with personal justice focus on one set of moral issues, such as sexual morality. Those primarily concerned with social justice focus on another set of moral issues, such as concern for the weak and disadvantaged. The search for common ground is advanced by noting that these two kinds of justice are not opposed to one another but rather can be complementary and mutually reinforcing. For example, premarital sex, though typically considered an issue of personal morality, could also be considered as a social justice concern.

Date posted: 2009-10-28

Fetal Research and Consent

Research on human fetal life involves numerous complex medical, moral, and legal aspects. It is not always easy, nor desirable, to seal off one aspect from another, but I want to focus on one element: the problem of consent. The topic is a timely and important one. Research on human fetal life is reportedly a growing industry and the subject of legal developments in France, where the government proposed to allow research using human embryos: in Great Britain, where fetuses have been stored without parental consent; and in the United States, where scientists are creating human embryos for the sole purpose of research.

Date posted: 2009-10-03

Notes on Reponses to the Papal Allocution on Life-Sustaining Treatments and Vegetative State

These philosophy and theology notes focus on the ethics of removing artificially administered nutrition and hydration (ANH) from patients in permanent coma, post-coma unresponsiveness, or (as it is more commonly but somewhat pejoratively called) persistent vegetative state (PVS). Although the case of Terri Schindler Schiavo brought this situation to national attention, these reflections do not deal with the specific details of her moral, legal, and familial situation. Rather, they focus on five issues raised by responses to the March 20, 2004, address of Pope John Paul II to participants at the conference in Rome on Life-Sustaining Treatments and Vegetative State.

Date posted: 2009-08-08

'Dignitas Personae': Equal Human Dignity

The Vatican's Instruction on bioethics, titled "Dignitas Personae" or "The Dignity of the Person," treats contemporary questions in bioethics, condemning practices widely accepted in our society including vitro fertilization and some forms of stem cell research. Paradoxically, the Instruction is based on a principle that also is widely accepted in our society, the principle of equal human dignity.

Date posted: 2009-07-13

Does the Right to Life Begin with Conscious Desires?

Daniel Boonin argues that an individual cannot acquire the right to life without at least some present desires. Why? Modifying arguments first given by Donald Marquis in his article "Why Abortion is Immoral" and by Michael Tooley in "Abortion and Infanticide," Boonin holds that killing you or me is wrong because it thwarts our desires, especially the (present, dispositional, and ideal) desire to have a future-like-ours... When then does the fetus obtain these desires?

Date posted: 2009-06-13


A spate of recent articles defends the permissibility and practice of killing newborns. In their Hastings Center Report article "Ending the Life of a Newborn: The Groningen Protocol" (January-February 2008), Hilde Lindemann and Marian Verkerk support those who "responsibly end the lives of severely impaired newborns" of various kinds suffering from serious illness. Their argument is fairly straightforward and similar in form to the argument in favor of euthanasia generally, another practice accepted in the Netherlands. They note that most people already sanction the removal of life support from severely handicapped babies who have no chance of survival.

Date posted: 2009-06-01

Notes on Early/Late Term Abortion, Non-Human Rational Animals, and Twinning

Is later abortion worse than early abortion? Would the discovery of a nonhuman rational animal change the personhood debate? Does an individual person arise only after the possibility of twinning is excluded? This reflection touches on these important questions.

Date posted: 2009-05-16

Pro-Life Doctors: A New Oxymoron?

In November 2007, the Committee on Ethics of the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) published Committee Opinion #385 entitled, "The Limits of Conscientious Refusal in Reproductive Medicine." The committee opinion sought to "maximize accommodation of an individual's religious or moral beliefs while avoiding imposition of these beliefs on others or interfering with the safe, timely, and financially feasible access to reproductive health care that all women deserve." Unfortunately, the balance struck by the committee between the right of conscience of physicians and the reproductive health care of women so emphasizes patient autonomy that it turns physicians into medical automatons forced to act against their best ethical and medical judgment.

Date posted: 2009-05-02

The Truth Will Make You Free

Freedom to achieve the goal of human life is aided and enhanced through the revelatory instruction - what to do and what to avoid, or law - that comes from God. "Patterned on God's freedom, man's freedom is not negated by his obedience to the divine law," wrote John Paul. "Indeed, only through this obedience does it abide in the truth and conform to human dignity" (VS 42). God, who is most free, cannot do evil and can do only good; so too a human being is most free when doing good and makes himself less free through doing evil. "In his journey towards God, the One who 'alone is good,' man must freely do good and avoid evil. But in order to accomplish this he must be able to distinguish good from evil" (VS 42). Natural law - the law that is written in our hearts - is the divine help given by God to all people to enable them to do good and avoid evil.

Date posted: 2009-04-10

Build the Culture of Life

By living "as if God did not exist", man not only loses sight of the mystery of God but also of the mystery of the world and the mystery of his own being. (EV 22) Having lost the knowledge that humans are the image of God, the culture of death reduces the value of the human person to functionality, efficiency, and usefulness, to transient human desires and the vagaries of economic productivity. In this culture, pleasure and lack of pain are the most valuable commodities, and the powerful can exploit and even kill legally those who are weak, poor, elderly, sick, or immature.

Date posted: 2009-03-30

Sex Selection of Children

This reflection takes up recent literature on sex selection of children, especially by abortion, and the right of children to be loved. Sex selection can occur in three ways: prior to conception by sperm separation, after conception but before implantation through genetic diagnosis of IVF embryos, and after implantation by abortion.

Date posted: 2009-03-11

Contraceptive Claims

Thomas Aquinas taught that not all the truths of the faith can be proved by reason, but all the objections to the faith can be disproved by reason. Perhaps this principle can be applied in the debate over contraception. With this in mind, let's look at some objections against the official teaching and at possible responses to the objections. If the objections can be shown to be weak, the position of the Church is strengthened.

Date posted: 2009-03-05