Date of Award

Spring 1999

Document Type

Thesis

Department

Theology

First Advisor

John Hart

Second Advisor

Fr. J. Eugene Peoples

Third Advisor

Mark Smilie

Abstract

January 22, 1999 marked the 26th anniversary of what many Americans consider to be the darkest day in US constitutional history - the day that saw the abortion laws of all 50 states invalidated and the creation of a virtually unlimited right to abortion throughout the nine months of a woman’s pregnancy. On that day in 1993, the US Supreme Court handed down its decision in Roe vs. Wade. In July of 1992, Jack Kevorkian a Michigan physician, achieved his first of many acquittals after being charged with murder in the form of assisted suicide. It seems as long as humanity has had the technology to sustain life artificially, we have struggled with the issue of ending it artificially. Finally, in July of 1996, Dr. Ian Wilmut and his team of Scottish researchers introduced the world to Dolly - a sheep and the first ever cloned mammal. The fields of clinical and bioethics are no longer in their infancy. Hallmark stories such as these have headlined our newspapers since the mid 1970’s and have drawn the attention of many government officials, legal professionals, philosophers, theologians, and various religious and special interest groups. Many foreign countries that look to the United States to set a precedent now hang their heads in sorrow and disgust. In a 1996 Chicago awards banquet interview, Mother Theresa of Calcutta was quoted as saying, “In the Untied States of America there is great spiritual poverty which is of the worst kind and the most difficult to cure.” It seems as though the foundation and very nature of humanity is being called on the carpet. We are being challenged to examine our conscience, evaluate the essence of our humanity, and make a decision - a decision of morality. The challenge has been accepted and the argument ensues. Tempers rage, rivers of emotions well up, opinions clash with beliefs, and the questionable definitions of “when does human life begin and end,” and “what is the true definition of human life” seem to remain at the core of the debate. In the pages that follow, one will find a common ground established between philosophy and theology and a number of avenues to a resolution shall be established. Perhaps by the Grace of God and the will of humanity, people will one day overcome their moral indifference and persevere with a well-formed conscience and sense of morality.

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