The Silent Subject: Reflections on the Unborn in American Culture

The Silent Subject: Reflections on the Unborn in American Culture

The Silent Subject: Reflections on the Unborn in American Culture

The Silent Subject: Reflections on the Unborn in American Culture


"When, God willing, the abortion controversy is behind us, partisans of the pro-life and pro-choice positions are going to have to live together in this society. That is why, sloganeering and passionate polemics are inevitable, civil conversation is essential. And that is why The Silent Subject is such a gift to all of us at this point in the controversy." From the foreword by Richard John Neuhaus The essays in this work constitute a sensitive, public argument for a reconstruction of the confused--yet dominant--popular attitudes toward nascent human life and its value. Unlike most pro-life arguments, it offers no strictly religious or exclusively sectarian warrants for its assertions - instead bearing a more secular cast, speaking to a generalized and pluralistic audience. As a whole, The Silent Subject embraces no specific, particular political ideology. Its contributors have a broad spectrum of professional interests, political perspectives and social philosophies - all of which indicates the fundamentally humanistic and apolitical nature of concern for the unborn and the degree to which they are esteemed. This unusual book is a refreshingly candid and morally compelling analysis of the social forces that superintend our cultural outlook toward unborn human life.


Richard John Neuhaus

Nobody would claim that during the last three decades there has been silence about the subject of abortion. Almost no question has been so persistently, heatedly, and often hysterically disputed in our public life. in another sense, however, there has been a most remarkable silence about the subject of abortion -- that subject being the human life that is terminated by abortion. That subject, the human life in the womb, is itself silent, and its potential voice silenced by abortion. It (she? he?) is not a participant in our public debates.

Three decades after abortion became a major item on the public agenda, and more than two decades after Roe v. Wade made the United States the first democracy in history to effectively abolish abortion law, many readers may be inclined to think that there is nothing new to be said about abortion. That would be a mistake. There is much that is new in The Silent Subject, and much that is not new but is explored from perspectives too often neglected. Amidst all the hysteria and sloganeering, we cannot weary of striving for a civil conversation on this most fevered question in our public life. On January 23, 1973, the day after the Roe decision, the prestige press and television declared that the Supreme Court had "settled" the abortion question. of course that turned out to be spectacularly premature, for today there is no more unsettled question in the political arena.

We do not have the civil conversation that is required, indeed it might be argued that we have not even had much of a public debate. a debate requires a measure of honesty, at least the ability to suspend partisan passions enough to allow all relevant considerations to be placed on the table. But it must be admitted that one side in the debate has adamantly insisted upon the exclusion of "the silent subject" from the debate. Surely it is long past time to recognize that we cannot honestly consider the merits of "choice" without considering what is chosen. Many who have gone along with, even championed, the pro-choice position know this, but for whatever reasons have successfully suppressed what . . .

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