Life, Literature, and the Horror of Abortion | Christopher White | Catholic World Report
An interview with Edward Short, author of Culture and Abortion
In his new book, Culture and Abortion (Gracewing, 2013), Edward Short examines the evil of abortion through the lens of literature and culture. “What I have sought to do,” he writes in the introduction, is “to see if some aspects of culture—which is to say works of poetry, history, criticism, fiction, and the encyclicals of popes—could help make sense of this life-destroying notion, though another and perhaps more important purpose was to argue that in order to end the evil of abortion we need a revival of culture, true culture.”
Short, who lives in New York with his wife and daughter, spoke recently with Catholic World Report about his book.
CWR: There’s been an abundance of writing on the horrors of abortion over the past four decades. Most of the writing on this topic deals with the poor legal arguments that buttress abortion rights, the emotional or physical damage to women, and the scientific evidence that life begins at conception. You, however, take a different approach and examine the type of culture that allows for abortion. Why is this important?
Edward Short: In Culture and Abortion, I do three things. I put abortion in some historical context by showing how the pro-abortion assumptions that animate our society would strike previous societies, most of which recognized children, born and unborn, as gifts from God, not playthings of expedience.
Secondly, I look closely at why our own culture sees fit to reject the gift of life.
And lastly I show how life-affirming poets, popes, saints, abolitionists, novelists, historians, and other truth-tellers can help us to restore what ought to be the pro-life heart of our own culture. All these are important because they help us see how our own culture has become a travesty of culture, one which is antagonistic not only to civilization but to life itself.
The sooner we re-humanize our culture the sooner we can begin to show abortion the door, though I insist in the book that we can only do this by showing our neighbors the vital relationship between the creature and the Creator, which is at the heart of the inviolability of life. Natural law arguments are not enough. To defend the sanctity of life we must witness to the reality of God’s love, which comes to us anew in every gift of every child.
CWR: In Culture and Abortion you introduce a number of literary figures who have offered serious contributions to promoting a culture of life. How have works of literature been important in this regard?