Setting the course for life

Published January 25, 2023

WORLD Opinions

Jan. 22, 2023, marked the 50th anniversary of the U.S. Supreme Court’s Roe v. Wade decision. This year, no national court decision stands in the way of life. Now the obstacle is what Roe left behind: a distorted understanding of the dignity of human life. Fifty years after Roe, churches should take the opportunity to help their members and ministries find new footing for the long work of changing the prevailing view of what it means to be human.

Autonomy and control are at the center of that view today, observes Notre Dame law professor Carter Snead in his recent book What It Means to Be Human. As a result, critical aspects of human flourishing have been neglected. The importance of the body and of the relationships we need as embodied beings are especially overlooked. Because we are embodied, human life goes through seasons of vulnerability and greater dependence on others. These moments may not be marked by autonomy, but they do not diminish the inherent dignity of human life.

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Jennifer Patterson is a senior fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center. Her work focuses on projects related to religious freedom and overcoming poverty, drawing on her more than 25 years of experience in public policy.

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