Tuesday, January 03, 2017

BOOK REVIEW: Sacred Embryology by Francesco Cangiamila

Francesco Cangiamila

Translated into French by Abbé Joseph Dinouart, 1766. Second French Edition.
Originally published in Sicilian in 1745 and in Latin in 1758.

In this day and age, the most salient issue for pro-lifers is abortion. No other issue concerning the unborn comes in at a close second. In the 18th century, things were different. Pro-lifers-- those preoccupied with the fate of the unborn-- had a completely different issue. Their main concern was making sure that every child received baptism, including those babies whose mothers died in labour, and who risked being unbirthed.

Hence: Sacred Embryology; subtitled: Or a Treaty on the Duties of Priests, Physicians, Surgeons Midwives Towards Children in the Womb of their Mothers. It was originally written in Italian by Francesco Cangiamila of Palermo, Sicily, where he worked as the Archdiocesan inquisitor.

Sunday, December 11, 2016

The Launch of the Abortion Debate in France in the Nineteenth Century

Anglosphere conceives of the abortion debate as something that primarily takes place in the twentieth century. There was virtually no debate that abortion was ever acceptable. If abortions did take place, doctors just did what they thought they had to do, and kept quiet about it.

In France, the situation was quite different.

Monday, December 05, 2016

How Did We Get to Roe v. Wade Anyway?

Glanville Williams

How did we start down the road to Roe v. Wade anyway?

In the 1940's and 1950's, abortion was generally opposed, and there wasn't a lot of outspoken support for it. There were abortions being done in hospitals for medical reasons, but not the abortion on demand that we know today. Women sought abortions for social reasons, but there was a a lot of social stigma for doing so, and you had to know someone to be able to find an abortionist. Opposition to abortion was based on affirming human life but also on not enabling loose sexual mores. 

And on top of that, the only regimes that legalized abortion were communist regimes (and Japan). That stigmatized abortion, too.

The man who broke the ice on abortion in the United States was an eminent legal scholar by the name of Glanville Williams who taught at Cambridge University in English . He was a Welsh-born humanist who had written a famous book called The Sanctity of Life and the Criminal Law.  In it, he criticized Catholic opposition to sterilization, contraception, euthanasia and-- of course-- abortion. It was seen as the basis for the criminalization of all these procedures.  In 1956, Glanville Williams gave a  presentation during Carpenter lecture at Columbia University, in which he called for the reform of abortion law. He said, among other things, that the unborn were not persons until the 28th week of pregnancy, because they had no EEG activity. He would, of course, be proven wrong. But this lecture got the ball rolling in legal circles in the United States. It led to the American Law Institute's adoption of a resolution to call for abortion law reform in the United States in 1959.

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.