Anti-Abortionist At Large

How To Argue Abortion Intelligently And Live To Tell About It

by Raymond Dennehy



Book Details

Language : English
Publication Date : 2/26/2007

Format : Softcover
Dimensions : 6x9
Page Count : 210
ISBN : 9781553693802
Format : Hardcover
Dimensions : 6x9
Page Count : 212
ISBN : 9781425167066

About the Book

Anti-Abortionist At Large: How To Argue Abortion Intelligently And Live To Tell About It is my autobiographical account of almost four decades of publicly speaking against, and debating on, induced abortion before radio and television audiences as well as community groups and on college campuses. Because much of this narrative unfolds in the context of my association with pro-life groups, the book is unavoidably also an anecdotal history of the pro-life movement in America, a movement that parallels in importance the anti-slavery movement of the 19th century. The book is equally a manual for debating against abortion. This, too, was an inevitable consequence of telling his story. My purpose in writing it, in the first place, was to share my experiences of speaking out on what has to be the most controversial topic of the past few decades. I've arranged the chapters the following way:

Chapter One, "Nobody's Ever Accused Me of Being Brilliant," offers three vignettes of my entry into the public debate on abortion, the first, a lecture before a class of troubled teenagers, the second, a guest appearance on a popular radio talk show in the San Francisco Bay Area, and the third, a debate on the University of San Francisco campus against a nationally prominent feminist philosopher. It would be a massive understatement to characterize the three events as "a learning experience".

Chapter Two, "Fighting Smog With a Crowbar," tells the story of the beginning of the national debate on abortion, as I saw it from my perch in the San Francisco Bay Area. Community groups and high school classes increasingly invited me, then a young assistant professor fresh out of graduate school, to address them on the topic of legalized abortion. As the debate progessed, we formed pro-life groups, like United For Life in San Francisco, to provide a register of scientists, philosophers, and lawyers who would be available to speak in public to counter the arguments pro-abortion groups like NOW and NARAL. The chapter gives an insight into the creation of California's first liberal abortion law, the "Therapeutic Abortion Act," in 1968 and tells of the demoralization the pro-life supporters suffered with the U.S. Supreme Court's Roe v. Wade decision in 1973.

Chapter Three, "The Man Who Wouldn't Have An Abortion," discusses my conversations with women who have had abortions and points to the "sexual revolution" as the reason for large number of legal abortions performed yearly in the United States. Chapter Four, "Bad Companions," evaluates the charge that the pro-life movement encourages violence against abortionists and their staff. The chapter leads into the evaluation with a discussion of the "boors and jerks" I"ve met in the pro-life organizations. Also discussed is the selective attitude society displays towards violence when large organizations and prominent figures see no inconsistency in condemning the death penalty or sending our troops to fight in Viet Nam, but, at the same time, turning a blind eye toward the wholesale killing of the unborn. My conclusion is that the violence that pro-lifers commit against pro-abortionists is verifiably miniscule, though unjustifiable. What is not miniscule and is equally unspeakable is the legacy of Roe v. Wade.

Chapter Five, "The Hidden Child," starts the "how-to" part of the book. There I present my experiences on the debate podium, mostly before students in a class of 700 at the University of California in Berkley. The directors of the program that sponsors the course have invited me to debate abortion every semester for 15 years now. "The Hidden Child" refers to my persistent experience of debate opponents who dodge questions like, "Is the fetus a human being?" and "Does induced abortion kill a human being?," as if these questions were fatal communicable diseases. I've seen my task in debate as that of staying doggedly on those questions despite all the distractions and dodges that my opponents and members of the audience use. In the course of showing the readers this dodge, I exemplify by actual experiences what I've learned are the do's and don't's of debating a hot-button topic like abortion. These rules-of-the-road extend from avoiding too much logic to attending to the way you dress for the occasion.

Chapter Six, "Rescuing the Hidden Child," presents the acutal argument I use in debate against abortion and my responses to objections that are leveled against it. It's an argument that I've sharpened over the past thirty-six years. Rather than trying to prove that the fetus is a human being or person from the moment of conception, I take the weaker position and argue that all the evidence mandates the conclusion that the fetus is probably a human being. Therefore the diliberate killing of unborn implies a willingness to kill an innocent human being. I then proceed to argue that legalized induced abortion violates the right to life and thus strikes at the very heart of the democratic charter.

Chapter Seven, "He's Not a Physician?," is a continuation of the claim I make in Chapter Five that pro-abortionists dodge the question of the status of the fetus. The chapter's title comes from the strident response an opponent from Planned Parenthood made about me when I accepted a request from a student in the audience to explain what "parial-birth abortion" is. I unfold the procedure, step by step, to show just how grisly the procedure is, pointing out that the acceptance of induced abortion, even at the early stages of gestation -- especially with such justifications as "Having the baby will ruin the girl's life," implies that it is all right deliberately to kill innocent human beings at any stage of life. Partial-birth abortion may repel the pro-abortionists as it does us. Why then, don't they condemn it? I believe their silence comes from the realization that, since human life is a continuum from conception until death, making abortion illegal during its later stages could lead to making it illegal at its earlier stages.

I end the book with Chapter Eight, "The Kiss of the Vampire." Its speculative character sets it apart from the earlier autobiographical chapters. It interprets the abortion culture as a manifestation of the vampire myth: just as the vampire sustains his or her life by draining the victim of life, so one consequence of the abortion culture - fetal tissue tranplants, embryo stem-cells for cloning, etc. - invite the destruction of unborn to improve the health and vitality of adults.

About the Author

Raymond Dennehy is Professor of Philosophy at the University of San Francisco. After serving from 1954-58 as a radarman in the U.S. Navy aboard the heavy cruiser, USS Rochester in the Pacific Theater of Operations, he attended the University of San Fransisco, obtaining a B.A. in philosophy. He studied philosophy in the graduate school of the University of California, Berkeley, finally getting his Ph.D. in philosophy from the University of Toronto. His previous books are Reason and Dignity and an anthology he edited, Christian Married Love. He is frequently invited on radio and television programs, as well as university campuses, to speak and debate on topics such as abortion, physician-assisted suicide, and cloning. He is married to Maryann Dennehy, has four children and eleven grandchildren.


The Newsletter of Georgetown University Right to Life
Vol 6 #1, December 1, 2002
Professor James V.Schall, S.J.

     This book is an account of what exactly abortion is about - as Dennehy repeats many times - from whatever standpoint one takes, "it is about the direct killing of a human being." The book is also an analysis of the validity of all the justifications or rationalizations give for encouraging, permitting or otherwise obtaining abortions. Dennehy is a superb debater on any topic, but this book is something special as it has fallen his lot to debate this topic almost more that anyone in the country.
     This book, I might add, is a very readable book. There is something whimsical about it. Dennehy is also a master teacher. He know that things have to be absolutely clear, repeated often and rephrased. He is aware that an academic audience and an ordinary audience are not the same and need to be treated in different manners, something we find in Aristotle's Rhetoric.
     No one who has observed the abortion scene over the years, understood the differing justifications for it, seen it pass from something exceptional to something normal, even something demanded, can fail to speculate on the underlying reason why the facts of abortion are not admitted or, more often, admitted but justified.
     Dennehy see the relation of abortion to the killing of the unwanted, to euthanasia, to fetal experimentation to cloning. He is a realist and a philosopher who sees relations. He is also concerned with examining the reasons given to justify abortion. In many ways, this is the best part of the book, why it is also a "handbook," that is, that attention he gives to academics and intellectuals who are leaders in the public form to explain or justify why abortion is "necessary," when in fact it is not. The disorders of culture first appear in the souls of the dons, academics and clerical.
     This book spells out what Aristotle meant by his famous remark that "a small error in the beginning will lead to a large error in the end." The intellectual side of the abortion justification movement, Dennehy concludes is a careful, well-organized effort never to allow the real truth of abortion either to be seen of understood or even considered, even by itself.
     The overall significance of this book is simply that the arguments for abortion, when spelled out, examined and analyzed do not justify it and cannot be intellectually maintained in serious argument. What this conclusion means is that we are in fact undermining both our personal lives and our culture by violating its basic principle, found in the Declaration of Independance, as Dennehy recounts, and in all sound thinking about what is it to be a human being with an inner-worldly and transcendent destiny. This book, I think, is not to be missed.

New Oxford Review
March 2003

     Ever since the U.S. Supreme Court decided some 30 years ago in Roe vs. Wade that a woman has a constitutional right to end the life of her unborn child, opponents of abortion have striven valiantly to stop the carnage.
     The fruits of this abominable decision have resulted in the legalized killing of approximately 1.3 million innocent human beings in the U.S. each year and has given our country the distinction of having the highest abortion rate (22.9 per 1,000 pregnancies) of any industrialized Western nation.
     One man who has been on the frontlines of the debate, even before Roe vs. Wade is Prof. Raymond Dennehy of the University of San Francisco. His new book Anti-Abortionist at Large is an invaluable tool. Dennehy, a professor of philosophy, writes eloquently about the extremely well-funded pro-abortion industry and its willing allies in the media, the legislatures, and academia. He has carried the fight to inhospitable universities, high schools, national conferences, and women's meetings. He has appeared on the radio and TV to press the case that life begins at conception and the unborn child is a human being entitled to all the rights and privileges conferred by God and (were it just) the law.
     Profilers such as Dennehy see in the Roe decision a striking parallel to the Dred Scott decision, in which the Supreme Court ruled that blacks were only three-fifths of a person and could be used as chattel. One way of justifying the deliberate killing of members of special class, he writes, is to argue that they are not human beings. But that cannot be done in the case of the fetus, because it is a human fetus - conceived by human parents.
     The prolife community has been well served by this easy-to-read and articulate discussion of abortion.

Voices For The UNBORN
Vol 16 #1, January 2003
Arthur J. Brew

     The abortion debate has been raging for three decades with little movement on either side. It still remains one of the most controversial issues of our time.
     Telling the truth about abortion has proven to be as difficult and as frustrating as ending the actual slaughter itself.
     Abortion is now the most common surgical procedure in the country. By age 20, one in seven women have had at least one abortion and, by age 45, four in ten have had at least one. Only one percent of all abortions take place because of rape or incest.
     These statistics from the Alan Guttmacher Institute, an arm of Planned Parenthood, were compiled recently by Operation Rescue.
     One person who has been on the front lines of the debate, even before Roe vs. Wade, the case that started it all, is Professor Raymond Dennehy of the University of San Francisco whose new book "Anti-Abortionist At Large" with the subtitle 'How To Argue Intelligently About Abortion and Live to Tell About It,' is an invaluable tool for anyone involved in the cause.
     The pro-choice community argues that the fetus is not a person but will develop into one. They describe it potential person.
     They follow this line of reasoning by claiming that the rights of an actual person - the expectant mother - override the right of a merely potential person and therefore the mother can abort the fetus without violating its right to life and without committing murder.
     Even those persons who concede that the fetus is a human being from the moment of conception assert that abortion is necessary to protect women from male hegemony.