Thursday, February 5, 2009

Pro-Environment But Pro-Choice: Contradiction and Categories

This entry in Oikonomia features a link to the CedarEthics podcast in which Dr. Dennis Sullivan, Director of the Center for Bioethics at Cedarville University invited me to discuss a rather puzzling pattern in our culture. First, let me frame the issue using many of Dr. Sullivan’s opening remarks. Then you can go to the podcast link below and listen.

Dr. Sullivan notes that former President George Bush was notably pro-life in his outlook. This means that he was opposed to abortion, embryo-destructive research, and euthanasia, among other things. In contrast, Mr. Bush was not recognized for a strong stand on environmental protection. He opposed U.S. ratification of the 1997 Kyoto Protocol on Climate Change, and he favored opening up the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge for oil drilling, positions that angered environmental activists.

However, the inauguration of Barack Obama as our new president has led to sweeping political changes, and his views on certain key ethical concerns are dramatically different than his predecessor. For example, he has stated that he would sign the Freedom of Choice Act, which would eliminate many legal limitations on abortions, including parental notification laws and waiting periods, and would even overturn our present ban on partial birth abortion. By the time you read this, the president may already have signed an executive order to permit government funding of embryonic stem cell research, something the Bush Administration would not permit. One the other hand, Dr. Sullivan points out that our new president is considered by many to be a friend to the environment and in favor of more controls on pollution and greater protection for natural resources. The two presidents appear to be quite representative of the views of their respective supporters.

So, it seems that being pro-life means also being anti-environment, if our national discourse is any indication. My discussion with Dr. Sullivan on the CedarEthics Podcast addressed the question, “Why do both of these ethical concerns live at opposite sides of the political spectrum?” Please click on the link below, listen, reflect on the points being made, and reply if you would like to comment or raise a question.

CedarEthics Podcast - Pro-Life or Pro-Environment: Poles Apart? (16)

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