How Not to Move Beyond the Abortion Wars

A few years ago, when an undergraduate student research assistant of mine—a recent convert to Catholicism—told me that he was planning to meet with a well-known dissenting Catholic theology professor who was then ensconced in an endowed chair at a major metropolitan Catholic university, I told him: “Be careful, you might end up liking him too much.” I jokingly told my student not to make eye contact with the theologian because he might begin to find himself agreeing with him that Catholic teachings “really allow” for women’s ordination and full reproductive rights—including access to abortion.

I was reminded of that conversation this week when I began reading a new book by yet another engaging Catholic theology professor at a major metropolitan university who also claims (pg 6) that the argument he puts forward in his book, Beyond the Abortion Wars, is “consistent with defined Catholic doctrine.” Written by Charles Camosy, associate professor of theology at Fordham University, the new book purports to be in line with Catholic teachings and promises “a way forward for a new generation.” But, Camosy delivers yet another argument for a woman’s right to choose abortion when confronted with an unborn child that he has described—in the past—as an “innocent aggressor.”

Indeed, Camosy has spent much of his career trying to convince us that he knows Catholic teachings better than the bishops. Criticizing Bishop Olmsted for his intervention and excommunication of a hospital administrator for her role in the direct abortion at a Phoenix Catholic hospital, Camosy suggested in 2013 that “the infamous Phoenix abortion case set us back in this regard.” Implying that Bishop Olmsted was not smart enough to understand the moral theology involved in the case, Camosy claimed that “The moral theology in the case was complex—which makes the decision to declare publicly that Sr. McBride had excommunicated herself even more inexplicable. The Church can do better.” For Camosy, “Catholics must be ready to help shape our new discussion on abortion. And we must do so in a way that draws people into the conversation—not only with respectful listening, but speaking in a way that is both coherent and sensitive.”

Camosy CoverThis new book is likely Camosy’s attempt to “draw people into the conversation.” But, there is little in his book that is either coherent or sensitive. Claiming to want to move “beyond” the abortion wars, Camosy creates an argument that seems designed to offend the pro-life side, while giving great respect to those who want to make sure abortion remains legal.

Especially offensive for pro-life readers will be Camosy’s description of the abortifacient, RU-486 as a form of “indirect abortion.” The reality is that RU-486, commonly known as the “abortion pill,” effectively ends an early pregnancy (up to 8 weeks) by turning off the pregnancy hormone (progesterone). Progesterone is necessary to maintain the pregnancy and when it is made inoperative, the fetus is aborted. For Camosy, who claims that his book is “consistent with settled Catholic doctrine,” this is not a “direct” abortion. To illustrate this, Camosy enlists philosopher Judith Jarvis Thompson’s 1971 “Defense of Abortion”—the hypothetical story of the young woman who is kidnapped and wakes up in a hospital bed to find that her healthy circulatory system has been hooked up to a famous unconscious violinist who has a fatal kidney ailment. The woman’s body is being used to keep the violinist alive until a “cure” for the violinist can be found. Camosy makes the case—as hundreds of thousands of pro-choice proponents have made in the past four decades—that one cannot be guilty of directly killing the violinist if one simply disconnects oneself from him. Likewise, for Camosy, simply taking the drug RU 486 is not “directly” killing the fetus. He writes:

The drugs present in RU 486 do not by their very nature appear to attack the fetus. Instead, the drug cuts off the pregnancy hormone and the fetus is detached from the woman’s body…. Using RU 486 is like removing yourself from [Judith Jarvis Thompson’s] violinist once you are attached. You don’t aim at his death, but instead remove yourself because you don’t think you have the duty to support his life with your body…. Some abortions are indirect and better understood as refusals to aid (pp 82-83).

Perhaps there are some readers who will find Camosy’s argument convincing, but I am not sure that many faithful Catholic readers will agree that it is consistent with settled Catholic doctrine.

As one who is hardly a bystander in the abortion wars, I wanted to like this book. As an incrementalist who celebrates every small step in creating policy to protect the unborn, I had high hopes that this book would at last begin to bridge the divide. A decade ago, in my own book, The Politics of Abortion, I joined the argument begun by writers like Marvin Olasky in his Abortion Rites: A Social History of Abortion in America, that it is more effective to attempt to change the hearts and minds of people than to create divisive public policy at the federal level. I share Charles Camosy’s desire to end the abortion wars—but this war cannot end until the real war on the unborn ends. This does not mean that the two sides cannot work together—battling it out at the state level—where there is the opportunity for the greatest success. But, complex philosophical arguments on whether RU 486 is a direct or indirect form of abortion are not helpful to these conversations.

Camosy must know that we can never really “end” the abortion wars as long as unborn children are still viewed as “aggressors” or “invaders” and can still be legally aborted. Faithful Catholics know that there is no middle ground on this—the pro-life side has to prevail in any war on the unborn. It can be done incrementally but ground has to be gained—not ceded—for the pro-life side. Besides, Camosy seems a bit late to the battlefield to begin with. In many ways, he seems to have missed the fact that the pro-life side is already winning many of the battles through waiting periods, ultrasound and parental notification requirements, and restrictions on late term abortion at the state level. More than 300 policies to protect the unborn have been passed at the state level just in the past few years. The number of abortions each year has fallen to pre-Roe era levels—the lowest in more than four decade.   Much of these gains are due to the selfless efforts of the pro-life community and their religious leaders. Yet, just as victory appears possible in many more states, Camosy seems to want to surrender by resurrecting the tired rhetoric—and the unconscious violinists—of forty years ago.

While it is disappointing, it is not unexpected considering Camosy’s last book lauded the contributions of Princeton’s most notorious professor, Peter Singer—the proponent of abortion, euthanasia and infanticide. Claiming that Singer is “motivated by an admirable desire to respond to the suffering of human and non-human animals,” Camosy’s 2012 book, Peter Singer and Christian Ethics: Beyond Polarization, argues that, “Though Singer is pro-choice for infanticide, on all the numerous and complicated issues related to abortion but one, Singer sounds an awful lot like Pope John Paul II.”  In a post at New Evangelical Partnership for the Common Good, a progressive organization led by Rev. Richard Cizik (a former lobbyist for the National Association of Evangelicals who was removed from his position because of his public support for same sex unions, and his softening stance on abortion) Camosy wrote that he found Singer to be “friendly and compassionate.”  Camosy currently serves on the Advisory Board of Cizik’s New Evangelical Partnership—where he has posted Peter Singer-like articles including: “Why Christians Should Support Rationing Health Care.”

One cannot know the motivations of another—we can never know what is in another’s heart so it is difficult to know why Charles Camosy wrote this book. It must be difficult to be a pro-life professor at Fordham University—a school known for dissenting theologians like Elizabeth Johnson. But, if one truly wants to advance a culture of life in which all children are welcomed into the world, it would seem that inviting Peter Singer to be an honored speaker to students at Fordham in 2012 is not the way to do it, nor would claiming that RU-486 “may not aim at death by intention.” Perhaps it is unwise to continue to critically review Camosy’s work from a Catholic perspective because it gives such statements credibility—and notoriety. But, as long as Camosy continues to claim that his writings and policy suggestions—including his newly proposed “Mother and Prenatal Child Protection Act”—are “consistent with defined Catholic doctrine,” faithful Catholics will have to continue to denounce them.

(Photo credit: AP Photo / Susan Walsh)

Anne Hendershott


Anne Hendershott is Professor of Sociology and Director of the Veritas Center at Franciscan University in Steubenville, Ohio. She is the author of Status Envy: The Politics of Catholic Higher Education; The Politics of Abortion; and The Politics of Deviance (Encounter Books). She is also the co-author of Renewal: How a New Generation of Priests and Bishops are Revitalizing the Catholic Church (2013).

  • “…it is difficult to know why Charles Camosy wrote this book. It must be difficult to be a pro-life professor at Fordham University…”
    He wrote it because he’s *not* pro-life. “Innocent aggressor” is oxymoronic sophistry (in the worst sense of that word). He’s pro-life to the degree that he permits himself to choose when and how often the label should apply. And if he’s able to cozy up to Peter Singer, life at Fordham can’t be all that difficult.

    • orientstar

      I think that you are right – it doesn’t seem that difficult to be a “pro-life” professor at Fordham in this case because he clearly isn’t. A real “pro-life” professor would undoubtedly have problems (it is an American “Catholic” school after all) but then again they probably wouldn’t make it past adjunct. “pro-choice” academics are just the next generation of holocaust deniers and there was no shortage of those who would trade tenure for conscience.

      • Fordham is Jesuit. It is neither American or Catholic.

        • orientstar

          Pope Francis too? Food for thought.

          • It kind of diminishes any hope that the Jesuits will be suppressed again, for good.

            • orientstar

              Yes, it does. Let’s hope that the Franciscans of the Immaculate were enough for him – though Mercy knows no bounds!

          • John O’Neill

            It would be nice to find an alternative to the Fordham University Catholic Church and its urban milieu. Maybe orthodox Catholics could find a space where they could continue to live in the magisterium of our two thousand year old Church. The other day we celebrated the feast day of Saint Cyril of Jerusalem who was driven out of Jerusalem by heretical clergy and who in the end prevailed against the heretics. Is there hope that there is a Saint Cyril in the American Church; it is hard to believe so because the American Catholics have become fat and contented. Maybe we are living in an era of sedevacante.

      • Chris Cloutier

        Are you sure it is a Catholic school?

  • Daniel P

    Presumably, Camosy appeals to the principle of double effect, to defend the use of RU-486. He ought to realize, though, that this could never work, since killing the fetus is the indispensible way that a parent manages not to have a child. Even if the conscious goal is good (which is dubious), the unintended bad effect is the method used to get to the conscious goal, which is not allowed by double effect.

    • Scott W.

      Agreed. Double-effect has become a Harry Potteresque magic word for dissenters that somehow magically transforms willfully chosen bad acts into good ones. “I put my foot on the gas pedal and pushed it to the floor which is a morally neutral act. The good effect was that I got work on time. The bad effect was that I ran over a pedestrian.” The other magic word is “conscience”, which for dissenters is code (and not very deep code at that) for moral relativism. Well, when one rejects objective good and evil, double-effect is broken and can’t possibly be properly applied.

    • Nel

      My question is, in the case of RU-486, what is the ‘other half’ of the double-effect? This drug is not administered to heal any illness that I have heard of; it’s not a vitamin shot; it does not clear up your skin or treat diabetes or cure cancer. As far as I know, men don’t take it for any medical condition. I sincerely doubt it is prescribed to pre-pubescent girls or post-menopausal women for any medical condition.

      So exactly WHAT would be the intention of prescribing RU-486 to anyone? Only to end a pregnancy. How it goes about ending the pregnancy is neither here nor there. The drug – as far as I know – was developed with the intention of aborting human life. The drug – as far as I know – is prescribed only to pregnant women or to women who are presumed to be pregnant or who might be pregnant – never to men, pre-pubescent or post-menopausal women or to women who are known NOT to be pregnant.

      If the drug has only one purpose and is only prescribed with the intention of ending a pregnancy, double-effect can’t enter into the conversation. The ONLY medical aim of the drug is ending the pregnancy. In that case, it is clearly a direct attempt to abort embryonic human life.

      Am I missing something (besides a brain-numbing Ph.D. and a license to confuse at Fordham)?

      • Daniel P

        But the person’s goal in having an abortion CAN be good: it could be, for instance, to provide greater levels of care and attention to one’s other children, or to remain free to become a single-minded missionary for the Church. Nevertheless, such good intentions cannot justify an action which consists in the murder of an innocent.

        • brucenyc

          I think your contention is false. The immediate goal in having an abortion is to kill a baby; that is never good. No one needs to have an abortion to provide greater levels of care to one’s other children nor to become a single-minded missionary. There are many other solutions, with adoption only being the most obvious. While we all have a myriad of goals in our lives, its the immediate one that determines the morality of a particular action.

          • Daniel P

            Very puzzling, Bruce. Do you contend that every immoral action has immoral intentions? The Catholic Church, at least, teaches that we often sin with the very best of intentions. Then why not say that women who abort their child often have good intentions? They surely aren’t (in the great majority of cases) killing a baby because they dislike babies!

            Maybe you mean this: that anyone who uses abortion as a means to an end (however good the end might be) must also intend the abortion. “He who intends the end also intends the means.” That isn’t Catholic teaching, though, actually. In Catholic moral theology, one can do wrong with only good intentions — if one’s means of achieving some good is intrinsically evil. This is the case in abortion.

            • brucenyc

              Well, Daniel, Your position must be that the mother somehow doesn’t intend to kill the baby. But the mother must have at least foreseen that the baby would be killed in the abortion? So she foresaw it, but didn’t intend it? That cannot possibly be true in any rationally thinking human.
              When taking steps to obtain a lofty goal, one isn’t allowed to deliberately sin along the way. That is the choice in abortion examples you cite. She may have had other intentions as well, but she knew and intended to kill the baby to reach those goals.
              There may be some very rare circumstances, like a cancer of the uterus, where the abortion result is foreseen but unintended. I don’t see how your examples fit the bill however.

              By the way, “he who intends the ends also intends the means” must be true for a single actor, since that person is making the choice of the means. The definition of “intending” is to have a course of action as ones purpose or objective.

              • Daniel P

                Yes, the mother foresees the death, but does not intend it. In that sense, it’s the same as in an ectopic pregnancy. But in an ectopic pregnancy, double effect applies, since (depending on the procedure) the death of the child is not the way that the mother accomplishes her good ends. Rather, it is MERELY a foreseen consequence, not an indispensable and foreseen consequence.

                Your phrase “that cannot possibly be true in any rationally thinking human” seems to suggest that (for instance) the United States intended the deaths of tens of thousands of Japanese civilians in Nagasaki — which is completely implausible. But the U.S. did USE these deaths, and we NEEDED these deaths in order to accomplish our good ends. (We were wrong in doing so).

                “When taking steps to obtain a lofty goal, one isn’t allowed to deliberately sin along the way.” Of course, I agree. What made you think I didn’t?

                As for your definition of “intending”, you ought to read the Catholic philosopher G.E.M. Anscombe’s book “Intention”. She argues convincingly that we only intend “under a description”. So the woman having an abortion might intend to become a doctor, and thus she might intentionally have the abortion under the description “doing something to secure my future profession.” Now, there’s nothing wrong with that intention, but there is something intrinsically wrong with the act she chooses to accomplish that intention. But yes, you are right that she acts freely and intentionally — only her intention need not be the death of her child.

                • brucenyc

                  I think you have overthought your position and misunderstand Anscombe. In her famous example, a man’s action (which we might observe as consisting in moving an arm up and down while holding a handle) may be intentional under the description ‘pumping water’ but not under other descriptions such as ‘contracting these muscles’, ‘tapping out this rhythm’, and so on.

                  So the action she is describing is the same: moving an arm up and down. The frame of reference is different, but the time frame is identical. In other words, she’s not equating the of pumping water (now) with the intention of drinking it (later). Your examples all move the time frame to capture something good which serves to hide the intention of the bad actually happening now. Thats why I made my statement about the lofty goal.

                  Similarly, when I spoke about a rational person it was in the context of one discrete decision by a mother about the baby she’s carrying. You are making it do too much work by having switched the frame of reference to involve numerous people deciding about millions in a war. They aren’t at all comparable.

                  And the words in your statement “and thus she might intentionally have the abortion under the description “doing something to secure my future profession” essentially denies your argument. She”s “intentionally” having the abortion but “describing” the reason as something else. Obfuscating an action by its description doesn’t change the underlying course of action which is a persons intention.

                  So I think that any woman who as an abortion has the intention to kill the baby regardless of the words she may use to describe it.

                  • Daniel P

                    I think your logic is flawed, because I think you’re deriving “S intended E” from “S intended the effects of E”. I’m fine with “S intended E under a description”, but not with “S intended E” simpliciter. You have not explained why it should be taken simpliciter, except to say that “she’s describing it as something else.” Anscombe’s notion of intention, however, does not consult a person’s conscious descriptions of one’s actions. Anscombe isn’t looking for excuses or rationalizations. The relevant description must be the GENUINE MOTIVE for the action, or else it is merely an irrelevant description.

                    Now let me step away from logic, though. Do you seriously believe that all women who have abortions are cold-blooded murderers? Have you never done something seriously wrong yourself, with a perfectly good intention? I’m sure you have; I can’t imagine that many of us haven’t. But the truth is, it’s still seriously wrong, no matter the intention.

                    So I guess you either must think:

                    (a) that all morally wrong actions involve harmful intentions, or

                    (b) that some morally wrong actions can have pure intentions, but abortion is not one such action.

                    The first option, (a), is obviously false; if you doubt it, read Shakespeare. The second option, (b), singles out women who have abortions are some sort of special category of sinner. Unless you’ve ever been in such a woman’s shoes, I’d hesitate before making such a judgment.

                    • brucenyc

                      Gobbledygook. You are a smart man like Camsoy lost in your thoughts. I am saying “E were the effects, well known and foreseeable, and anyone who acted that way must have intended them.” You want to pretend that isn’t the case by positing hypothetical situations and ignoring the concrete facts in evidence. And your haven’t responded directly nor concretely to my comments. I guess we will agree to disagree.

  • Scott W.

    Camosy has a lot of nerve taking Bishop Olmsted to task. One more time: the public (including Camosy) is not privy to the medical details in the controversial hospital case. Bishop Olmsted was privy and made his judgment based on actual knowledge of the details. In any case, it is highly unlikey that RU-486 was involved, so this whole violinist line is a rabbit trail.

    Always fog with these people.

  • I would argue that “refusal to aid” is in and of itself a sin. Has he never read the parable of The Good Samaritan?

  • Gail Finke

    “Some abortions are indirect and better understood as refusals to aid” — well, I suppose that’s true if you’re the sort of academic who can redefine nearly every term into something else. For the rest of us who live in the real world, a woman’s “refusing to aid” a baby in her womb is a DIRECT way to kill it, just as clamping the umbilical cord would be. If I clamp the umbilical cord so my baby gets no blood there’s no doubt of what the outcome will be, however you want to parse how directly or indirectly I accomplish it. The ridiculous violinist story would convince only a high school sophomore who hadn’t learned to think things through. In that case, the woman is kidnapped and physically hooked up to someone who otherwise never could or would be hooked up to her. In the case of pregnancy, every child begins life “hooked up to” its mother. That is not the bizarre stuff of science fiction, but how pregnancy works. A woman who is raped or otherwise becomes pregnant against her will is not in a similar situation to a woman kidnapped and forced to become a living dialysis machine for the rest of her life. If that story were made into a movie, it would shock and horrify precisely because it takes a natural biological function with a set course and an end (pregnancy and birth) and twists it into an unnatural manmade function with no course and no end. The similarities to and stark differences from pregnancy would be immediately apparent, and the horror of a person enslaved (either to some sort of evil dictator or to some other equally innocent and sympathetic person, depending on the movie maker’s intent with the story) would be the point of the dilemma. The drama would come from the stark differences between this fictional situation and actual biological processes. Only someone attempting to invent reasons for pregnancy per se to be a horrifying and unnatural imposition on the lives of women would consider the two to be remotely related — and such a person would, given the way human beings reproduce, have to be mentally unbalanced.

    • Nel

      I wonder if the bad professor understands the concept of a ‘sin of omission,’ which is another way of saying, ‘refusal to aid.’ As Christians, we will stand before God for every time we could have assisted human life, and ‘refused to aid,’ no matter how trivial.

      Refusing to aid the child in the womb is like refusing to aid the ill person who can’t get up and feed himself or get herself a drink. It’s like refusing to aid the person stuck in a burning house. It’s like refusing to aid someone hanging by his fingernails from a bridge. It’s like refusing to go to the aid of an innocent person held hostage by a maniac. It’s like refusing to answer a police call that a woman is being raped. It’s like… advocating every horror of the culture of death.

      Of course we all know that, but the professor can’t figure that out? Stupid intellectual strikes again.

      • Nick_Palmer3

        “…in what I have done, and in what I have failed to do…”

  • Simple & Plain

    Ah the famous violinist story to try and justify the decision to terminate a child because you’re annoyed at the results of your choices in life. The fact that people use that story to try and explain away abortion is ridiculous. People choose to have sex (no, I’m not talking about the FEW cases of forced sex that result in pregnancy). The woman who was hooked up to the violinist didn’t choose anything.

    I basically shrug my shoulders at Christian doctors and academics who tell me abortion is doing God’s work to help people. We’ll always have people who speak lies under the guise of Christianity.

    • BPS

      The violinist ‘parasite’ analogy is a bad one, simple and plain. To compare it to a pregnant woman is to leave out personal responsibility. A good comparison would be if I caused an auto accident with you, and due to my negligence you needed a kidney. Suppose it was found that I was a perfect match to provide you one of my kidneys. Would it be just if a judge ordered me to give you one of my kidneys? I believe it would be, since I’m responsible. Even if I did everything (short of not driving) to avoid the accident.
      This analogy would not apply to someone who didn’t or was somehow unable to give consent.

  • kentgeordie

    In France, and certain other countries, there is a law against ‘La non-assistance
    à personne en danger’:

  • Cathy

    Thank you for alerting us to yet another “Catholic” dissenter who pretends to speak Catholic truth. The fact that Fordham University apparently does not mind employing a professor who supports chemical abortion of innocent children speaks volumes! Why are these “professors” permitted to lead our Catholic youth astray? On a side note, chemicals that pollute the water, infect the food supply, or dirty our atmosphere are decried by every progressive around, Catholics included. But many of these same people have no problem pumping chemicals into women to the point of causing the death of their innocent child?

    • TommyD6of11

      “Fordham University does not mind [Camosy]” … Fordham loves him. They hired him exactly because of his views. Fordham has long cease to be a Catholic university. The same is true for the Jesuits in general.

      By chance, today, on the Metro North train from Manhattan, I sat next to two young women who stated they were FU students. I responded by asking them “if they ever wondered what it would have been like if they had attended a Catholic school”.

      They both got my point and seemed embarrassed perhaps a wee bit ashamed of their school.

      Both were in ROTC and planning on serving in the Army. I am not sure that that is relevant, except that they had already had enough military training (at a time of war) to have gained a reality based perspective on life.

  • Rusty

    Aren’t philosophers supposed to be logical? How can there be any real parallel in the violinist story to someone who finds themselves pregnant?


    • fredx2

      The fact that Camosy takes the “Judith Jarvis Thompson hypothetical” seriously is a blot on his record. In the hypothetical an innocent woman who has done nothing, suddenly wakes up and is found to be attached to another person who will die if she disconnects herself from him.

      This is supposed to be analogous to being pregnant. But it bears no relationship at all because pregnant women get pregnant by having sex with a man – they voluntarily chose to engage in activity that they knew could result in another human being being created.

      To conceive of every fetus as an “innocent aggessor” is sick and twisted thinking of the first order.

      However, this is the sort of thing they like at Fordham these days.

      Our colleges have become are vast wastelands of idiocy.

      • Rusty

        I think it goes beyond someone who willingly has sex, with a resulting pregnancy. The typical response of pro-abortion activists is to suggest that no woman should be forced to bear a child of rape.

        There is no doubting the trauma accompanying a sexual assault, especially one that results in pregnancy. However, irrespective of the emotional (and probably physical) trauma associated with the rape, killing the innocent child in utero is a separate and distinct act that cannot be justified.

        Progressives attempt to justify “choice” in the context of alleviating suffering, which they take to be an end in itself. For Christians, the suffering of Our Lord demonstrates the dignity inherent in the suffering that we all experience as part of our humanity.

        Alleviating suffering is to be praised, but not as an end in itself. It is the moral effect of loving our neighbour (including the unborn child) that calls us to alleviate the suffering of the rape victim. To commit an evil act under the guise of alleviating suffering does not change the immorality of the evil act.

        However, the woman who has been raped will not find her suffering resolved through abortion in any case. If and when she becomes aware of the humanity of her unborn child, and the act she has taken, she cannot help but suffer.

        • fredx2

          It would be a more interesting hypothetical if she said it only applied to the rape situation, but she does not. She says it applies to the normal case:

          From Wikipedia ” A defense of Abortion”

          For the same reason, Thomson says, abortion does not violate the fetus’s legitimate rights, but merely deprives the fetus of something—the use of the pregnant woman’s body and life-support functions—to which it has no right. Thus, by choosing to terminate her pregnancy, a woman does not violate any moral obligation; rather, a woman who carries her pregnancy to term is a ‘Good Samaritan’ who goes beyond her obligations.[6]”

          She also has another hypothetical in which she says that if a woman takes all precautions against getting pregnant by using the most effective contraception she can, but still gets pregnant, she has no duty to keep the baby alive:

          Again, suppose it were like this: people-seeds drift about in the air like pollen, and if you open your windows, one may drift in and take root in your carpets or upholstery. You don’t want children, so you fix up your windows with fine mesh screens, the very best you can buy. As can happen, however, and on very, very rare occasions does happen, one of the screens is defective; and a seed drifts in and takes root.[11]

          …However, in the event that one finds its way in, unwelcome as it may be, does the simple fact that the woman knowingly risked such an occurrence when opening her window deny her the ability to rid her house of the intruder?

          It’s all very silly to me.


          The most common objection is that Thomson’s argument can justify abortion only in cases of rape. In the violinist scenario, you were kidnapped: you did nothing to cause the violinist to be plugged in, just as a woman who is pregnant due to rape did nothing to cause her pregnancy. But in typical cases of abortion, the pregnant woman had intercourse voluntarily, and thus has either tacitly consented to allow the fetus to use her body (the tacit consent objection),[13] or else has a duty to sustain the fetus because the woman herself caused the fetus to stand in need of her body (the responsibility objection).[14]

          • Rusty

            At the end of the day, it comes down to “My will be done” rather than “Thy will be done”…

  • NasicaCato

    So, according to Camosy, it would be ok to starve you child because not making a PB and J sandwich is a morally neutral act? What a clown car the academy has become.

    • MIchael S.

      Also, the Nazis didn’t exterminate the Jews….the gas did….

      • mollysdad

        Speaking of the Nazis: We don’t need to do this incrementally.

        The Nuremberg Military Tribunal (RuSHA case) in 1948 did not err when it confirmed abortion as a crime against humanity.

  • john

    As a general rule, I’m doubtful that we’ll ever become a more humane society by ratcheting up the sophistication of our arguments that deny the humanity of others. Would that he would have applied his intellectual talent devising a better way to convince the world that all people are vulnerable, and that we must defend them all.

  • FrankW

    The most unfortunate thing about Camosy is that there are Catholics who actually take him seriously. He must have quite an ego to see himself as having the authority to lecture the Church and its clergy on how best to handle the abortion issue.

    Based on Camosy’s reasoning, I suspect we will at some point see him re-write of Chapter 6 of the Gospel of John, where after Jesus gives His bread of life discourse, and many of His followers leave Him, He calls out to them saying “No wait, you don’t understand what I said. Let me explain”. I imagine Camosy has all that figured out as well.

    • fredx2

      Being a bad theologian necessitates having an enormous ego – otherwise all those normal people laughing at your attempts at theology would deter you from issuing your nonsensical conclusions. Therefore, by process of elimination, only the arrogant ones continue in the field. Their political passions are so strong that they overcome their common sense, and natural sense of shame.

  • “But, Camosy delivers yet another argument for a woman’s right to choose abortion when confronted with an unborn child that he has described—in the past—as an “innocent aggressor.””

    I find it interesting sometimes how creative certain strains of the professoriate can be in advancing evil ideas and justifying their own actions. It bears a stunning resemblance to the sort of reasoning that exists in correctional facilities.

  • JimD

    Pope John Paul II warned that things should be called by their right names. Orwell observed that as thought corrupts language, language can also corrupt thought. Decades of using convenient euphemisms to conceal the nature of abortion and of the unborn child is now bearing fruit in Catholic academies where it is apparently
    acceptable to refer to an unborn child as an aggressive invader and an advocate of infanticide as in agreement with Catholic moral doctrine, except for one. That “except for one” is dismissive in the extreme, & treats a moral outrage as if it were an asterisk. As an alumnus of Fordham University I can feel only deep sadness at the conceits which now pass for moral instruction at that institution.

  • Watosh

    Well is Camosy advancing the idea there are “just” abortions as this “justness” concept has been used with great practical effect to legitimize war for Catholics?

  • samharker

    “settled Catholic doctrine” Is that like the “settled science” of climate change a/k/a global warming?

  • MarkRutledge

    For all our intent to respect our opposition, we should never, ever, ever underestimate their intellectual dishonesty, or, better put, the depth of their self-delusion. And we know where this all comes from, the deadliest of the deadly sins: pride.

  • thomistica

    Judith Jarvis Thompson and the violin “analogy”–when on earth will that ever go away?

    Camosy’s use of it is quite bizarre, to say the least.

    When, oh when, will extensive philosophical training especially be a prerequisite for studying or teaching theology? In an earlier day, good theologians were also good philosophers.

  • M.J.A.

    May the prayers of St.Joseph help to protect and deliver many , from blasphemy against the Holy Spirit , by being agents of the liar and murderer , whose mission it is , to bring contempt against God and His children , at whatever stage in life ; hope many of the Catholic colleges would look seriously into courses in deliverance ministry, to deal with the blatant contempt shown towards truth , while claiming to uphold belief in The Eucharist !

  • s_dep

    Camosy -and so many like him who use a tangled web of words to make evil appear to be good – is a good illustration that “The wisdom of the world is foolishness in God’s the sight of God.” 1 Cor 3:19. I’ve heard others make the same arguments he does (there doesn’t seem to be anything new or noteworthy in his perspective) and it’s useless to try to dialogue based on logic with them. They hate the light because they love the darkness.

  • donna

    problem is that anyone dignifies such irrational nonsense with a thoughtful response. the defining issue is intention and if one’s intention in taking this drug is to abort or disrupt hormonal habitus which allows the child to develop normally one has committed the sin whether the action is successful or not. If you go out and attempt to murder someone and fail you are still charged with a capital crime “ATTEMPTED MURDER”. This is as logically inadmissible as John rock’s reasoning in appeal to Pope to rule BC pills morally licit.

  • brucenyc

    How deliberately ingesting RU-486 with knowledge aforethought, Camosy can describe the resulting abortion as “indirect” is breathtaking. He must have found at Fordham a much more extensive dictionary…

  • Burger Fan

    “Though Singer is pro-choice for infanticide, on all the numerous and complicated issues related to abortion but one, Singer sounds an awful lot like Pope John Paul II.” — This is one of the most hilariously asinine sentences I have read in a long time. That it comes from a theology professor makes it even funnier really. This is an instance where the speaker can and should be laughed off the stage. It makes Fordham a laughingstock as well.

  • Charles Putter

    I suppose the new thinking allows murder because it’s just the destruction of a postnatal fetus ………….

  • Dr. Timothy J. Williams

    “Liberated” catholic professors like Charles Camosy are apt to claim that requiring theology faculty to hold the Mandatum impinges on their free exercise of reason. The fact is quite otherwise. When “theologizing” for oneself, cut off from the mind of the Church, the first thing that flies out the window is reason itself. This man’s inane and horrific thoughts on abortion are ample evidence of this.

  • Michael S.

    “Though Singer is pro-choice for infanticide, on all the numerous and complicated issues related to abortion but one, Singer sounds an awful lot like Pope John Paul II.” When I read this, I was reminded of Solzhenitsyn’s statement about one of Lenin’s last written testaments before he died on the justification and necessity of the use of terror by the Soviet Union’s judicial system. “We will not undertake to comment on this important [statement]. What it calls for is silence and reflection”.
    This whole article which reveals a systematic and seductive irrationality of the secular mind, should give us all pause as to the reality of the inevitable intellectual incoherence so prevalent in our “educated” class grounded in secular humanism.

  • Roland Ley

    There should be only one question. Does human life begin at conception or not? If it does, as shown by Maureen Condic, University of Utah, then that should end discussion about the rights of the unborn. If it does not then I challenge those as to how they possibly can know that and what are the consequences of their being wrong?

  • WalterPaulKomarnicki

    supporting Peter Singer is truly defending the indefensible, Camosy seems to be a cafeteria catholic like no other, and his pronouncements and pontifications are simply inconsistent with the Church’s pro-life stance.
    I wonder if he has ever read Humanae Vitae?

  • Tony

    That violinist analogy is utterly stupid.

    There is no direct relationship between going to a hospital and finding a violinist attached to your bodily functions. But if you are bearing a child, it is PRECISELY BECAUSE YOU HAVE DONE THE CHILD-MAKING THING. Unless you were raped, your own VOLUNTARY action has brought the child into being in the first place. You ARE its mother. It has a claim on you, at the very least that you should carry it to term.

    The moral structure of pedophilia: The sexual “fulfillment” of adults is more important than the welfare of children.

    What his book seems to show is that sin makes you stupid, eventually …. And yet we have seen this phenomenon before. Hitler isn’t REALLY incompatible with Catholic teaching, you know….

    • Rich in MN

      Stephanie Grey is a sensitive and articulate young pro-life apologist who was once confronted in a debate with the violinist analogy. She had apparently never heard it before because, as she heard her interlocutor laying it out, she immediately became panicked and prayed fervently to the Holy Spirit to tell her how to respond. When the opponent had finished, Stephanie replied, “My kidneys are made to serve me; that is their function. They do not belong to anyone else, and it is my right to give their use or deny their use to another. But my uterus is made to serve the other. Its very role and function, its design, its purpose, is to serve the other, to sustain the other, to give life to the other, to nurture the other.”

      A few days later, someone had told her that her opponent had been lost in thought, trying to find an angle to attack Stephanie’s riposte. He could not. There is a wonderful video on YouTube in which Stephanie recounts this event.

  • Just so we’re clear.. this is what a post natal aggressive invader looks like.