Sunday, November 27, 2016

Francesco-Emmanuele Cangiamila: Obscure But Important Figure in ProLife History

In researching my Timeline of Pro-Life History, I came across a number of people whom nobody has ever heard of, but whose influence on the welfare of the unborn was monumental.

And one of these figures is Father Francesco-Emmanuele Cangiamila (1702-1763).

Friday, November 25, 2016

How We Came to Believe That Life Begins at Conception

The belief that life begins at conception is at the heart of the pro-life cause. But I'm amazed that virtually nobody has asked themselves how we came to believe in it. It's rather taken for granted.

Many people assume that the origin of the belief lies in the dogmas of the Incarnation and the Immaculate Conception. While these dogmas reinforced the belief in the value of pre-natal life, they were never reference points for natural philosophy or science.

Thursday, November 24, 2016

A Timeline of Pro-Life History: An Introduction

This Timeline of Pro-Life History is my humble attempt to document those events relevant to the rights, welfare and cause of the unborn.

Every other human group seems to have a history dedicated to it, it seems that it's about time for the unborn to have history written about them as well.

In this timeline, I focused on events. So it doesn't give the whole picture: not the trends, or statistics, or general practices. I simply wanted to give people an idea of what a history of the unborn could look like; what type of events, ideas and discoveries contributed to the situation of the unborn today. One might think that the history of the unborn would focus solely on abortion. I have found that to be untrue. There is a lot to write about the unborn, and a lot left to be studied and written.

Rather than write a book, I thought it was more useful and expedient to write an accessible and searchable survey of the history of the unborn. I started from the Christian era because when one writes a chronology, dating is very important, and dates can be very uncertain in the Ancient period. There is a lack of information for late antiquity and the early Middle Ages. I mostly focused on those periods for which I knew I could get information easily: The late Middle Ages, the Early Modern and Modern periods and especially contemporary history.

I scanned a number of academic (and non-academic) sources to cull these dates. But my most important source was the archives of I scanned every headline page from 1998 to 2016 (up to the election of Donald Trump.)  I tried to focus on the important events, the ones that have an impact on either the legal or cultural situation of the unborn.

If you like my Timeline, please share it. I also encourage you to blog about pro-life history. In the 1980's it was often said: If abortion is murder, act like it! Well, we can't stop abortion right now. I would simply like to rephrase that and say: If the unborn are human, act like it! Write their history! I promise you right now there is a historiographical effort to denigrate the unborn and their rights. If we can't have the unborn respected through politics or popular culture, we can do it through history.

Monday, October 10, 2016

Commentary on Anne Stensvold's History of Pregnancy in Christianity

Madonna del Parto Unknown Master, Italian (late 15th century in Valsesia)

Rather than write a book review, which would require more time than I care to spend on this blogpost, I thought I'd comment on one aspect of the book.

The History of Pregnancy in Christianity is an attempt to discuss the Christian conceptualization of pregnancy throughout the ages, viewed through a doctrinal lense.

Saturday, September 03, 2016

Need Help Researching Paolo Zacchia -- The Father of Forensic Medicine-- Latin Readers Sought

I spent last night and today reading up about Paolo Zacchia, the Father of Forensic Medicine. He was the personal physician to Pope Innocent X and Pope Alexander VII and legal advsior to the Roman Rota-- what you might call the Catholic Church's Supreme Court.

In 1621, he published a book entitled Quaestionaes Medico-L├ęgales, which expounds on medical knowledge as it pertains to Canon and Civil Law. (This is Volume 2).

In a number of publications, he is said to a proponent of the belief that life begins at conception. (For example here, here, and here.

On the other hand, this author says

Even after formation, moreover, the foetus was something less than a full person in civil law. Jurists discussed the haziness of this boundary; the eminent Lombard jurist Giacomo Menochio (d. 1607) and the Roman forensics expert Zacchia both debated whether one should speak of a ‘child’ (Latin, infans) and ‘person’ (homo) from conception, from quickening or only from birth; Zacchia held to the last of the three, even as he noted that ‘some physicians’ call it a child ‘once it is complete in the uterus, with all its members formed’.107
 [UPDATE: A Commenter on my facebook page remarked that "homo" does not translate into "person" but "man" i.e. "human being."]

The problem with Paolo Zacchias according to medical historian Jaclyn Duffin is that he is quite unknown in English speaking historiagraphy. He's referred to in scholarly works, often in a footnote, but practically no one has written anything about him, and there's scant biographical information about him.

His Quaestiones remains untranslated in English.

So if there's anyone out there among my readers who knows Latin well, I would appreciate knowing the exact passage (including Latin passage) in which Zacchia argues that life begins at conception, and, whether he considers an embryo a child, and in what contexts-- i.e. only legally or as regards baptism,etc. The section dealing with fetuses seems to begin around page 685.