For once, a left-wing speaker on the college lecture circuit got heckled and by a most unusual heckler. “A baby’s cry, piercing the air from the back of an Ivy League academic hall, offered a disquieting counterpoint to a startling argument for abortion rights,” Terrence McKeegan, J. D., reported in an article  for the Catholic Family & Human Rights Institute.
“An infant has no moral status because he is not self-aware,” Peter Singer, a professor of bioethics at Princeton said in a conference  there. “In his utilitarian view, Singer believes that there can even be a moral duty to kill humans lacking self-awareness, including the disabled, which he has been criticized  for not following in the case of his mother,” Dr. McKeegan writes.
“Remarkably, for a conference examining abortion, there was virtually no discussion about the act of abortion itself,” Dr. McKeegan noted. What was discussed would startle regular churchgoers, a statistical minority in academia.
“We have to get rid of the idea of evil,” Frances Kissling, an abortion rights advocate turned bioethics scholar said. “The University of Pennsylvania, where Kissling is a visiting bioethics scholar, has drawn criticism  for appointing the long-time abortion activist who lacks significant academic credentials,” Dr. McKeegan asserted.
“Kissling shocked the audience in the last session by saying, ‘I don’t care how you accomplish it [the right to abortion], whether through a constitution, the UN, state laws or federals laws, or by the Taliban,’” Dr. McKeegan reported.
On the other side of the question, John Finnis, a professor emeritus of philosophy in the University of Oxford argued  that biology and metaphysics determined the status of the fetus. He objected to the very use of the term, calling it an “F-word”.
“As used in the conference program and website, which are not medical contexts, it is offensive, dehumanizing, prejudicial, manipulative,“ Finnis stated. “A website describing ultrasound for expectant mothers doesn’t talk about her fetus but her baby, and so do her doctors unless they’re her abortionists or think she has been or is interested in abortion.”
“The conference sought a new approach to talking and thinking about abortion,” Dr. McKeegan wrote. “With one or two notable exceptions, it succeeded in its goal of conducting a civil debate between people on opposite sides of the issue.”
“Another conference goal, finding common ground between the two sides, proved more elusive. The opening session took up this topic, and included a former general counsel for Planned Parenthood, a self-described pro-life progressive evangelical professor, an independent bioethicist, and Kissling.”
“Many pro-life participants complained about the composition of some panels, including the opening session, and two panels on pregnancy issues as lacking balance and speakers who could properly articulate a strong pro-life position.”
Malcolm A. Kline is the Executive Director of Accuracy in Academia .
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