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v2.1 Reference

Abortion and Unborn Human Life, Second Edition

Is it ever morally right to procure an abortion, to help procure one, or to perform one? Patrick Lee surveys the main philosophical arguments in favor of the moral permissibility of abortion and refutes them point by point. In a calm and philosophically sophisticated manner, he presents a powerful case for the pro-life position and a serious challenge to all of the main philosophical arguments on behalf of the pro-choice position. Lee's method is strictly philosophical, with special attention given to authors in the broadly analytical school of thought. He contends that what is killed in abortion is indeed an individual human being. Attempts to argue otherwise are carefully presented and criticized, as are other attempts to justify abortion morally.

Since 1996 when the first edition of Abortion and Unborn Human Life appeared, the debate about the morality of abortion has not subsided. From the standpoint of philosophy many issues have become clearer. Accordingly, Patrick Lee confirms his position that unborn human beings have an equal and inherent dignity and are subjects of basic rights from the moment of fertilization. In this second edition, Lee provides significant updates in view of recent developments.

Among the developments have been an added precision required for the argument against the gradualist position, the position that a human being only gradually comes to be; significant developments in embryology strengthening the case that at fertilization a new human individual comes to be; and further refinements to the argument that some abortions are non-intentional killing.

Lee argues that what is at stake in this debate about how to treat unborn human beings is whether we will or will not recognize the fundamental equal dignity possessed by every human being, simply by virtue of being the kind of being he or she is.


Patrick Lee holds the John N. and Jamie D. McAleer Chair of Bioethics and is the director of the Institute of Bioethics at Franciscan University Steubenville. He is known nationally as a keynote speaker and author of contemporary ethics, especially on controversies regarding human life and marriage. Lee is the coauthor of Body-Self Dualism in Contemporary Ethics and Politics, and the author of numerous published articles.


"Readers looking for a succinct and narrowly defined philosophical argument against abortion will find this book appealing. It is useful as a review of the past several decades of philosophical debate on abortion, and it may help readers understand how lines get drawn in such philosophical debate."—Booklist

"A very good book on the abortion question. Lee's methods are rigorous and exact, his writing accessibly clear. This book is, therefore, an especially welcome contribution to a field of enquiry in which these two qualities are rarely found in combination."—Kevin L. Flannery, S.J., Gregorianum


Lee is an expert guide through the maze of a sharply contested debate-one with chilling implications for our society. — Prof. James G. Hanink, Loyola Marymount University
The Catholic University of America Press

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