Smith, Janet E.
39 Articles at Lifeissues.net

Janet E. Smith, Ph.D., Associate Professor, Department of Philosophy, University of Dallas; author of Humanae Vitae: A Generation Later (Washington, D.C.: Catholic University of America Press, 1991) 426pp. and editor of Why Humanae Vitae Was Right: A Reader (San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 1993) 591pp.; has published on natural law, virtue, Aquinas' ethics, abortion, contraception, various bioethical issues, Veritatis Splendor, the Universal Catechism, and Plato and myth.

Contact: jsmith@acad.udallas.edu

Website:http://www.udallas.edu/phildept/smith.htm

Articles

Fetal Rights

Currently the use of fetal tissue and organs is inextricably linked with abortion; until abortion becomes illegal, it will be difficulty to extend to the unborn the respect due them as persons and difficult to assess any other acts where it seems that the child is being used as an instrument rather than a person with intrinsic worth.

Date posted: 2016-10-13

The Family: A Communion of Persons

Among the thematic concerns of Pope John Paul II's pontificate have been the restoration of Christian Unity and the fall of Communism, and increasingly a plea to the West to abandon its materialistic ways. A concern of seemingly equal importance for John Paul II has been the promotion of the Christian understanding of the family.

Date posted: 2016-07-10

Contraception and the Sexual Revolution

The modern world considers contraception one of the most important discoveries of the late twentieth century. And rightly so, in a sense, for our modern lifestyle is in large part made possible by contraception. Thus it is no surprise that the Church's condemnation of contraception is one of its most controversial teachings.

Date posted: 2016-05-15

Contraception, Congo Nuns, Choosing the Lesser Evil, and Conflict of Commandments

The Church has never taught that if the harms are serious enough, it is permissible to use contraception.

Date posted: 2016-02-24

The Language of Love

(On March 25, 2014, Bishop Conley of Lincoln, NE. issued a powerful call to Catholics to embrace the Church's teaching on contraception.) Twenty years ago, Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta stood before the President of the United States, before senators and congressmen, before justices of the United States Supreme Court. She spoke about her work among the world's poor. She spoke about justice and compassion. Most importantly, she spoke about love. "Love," she told them, "has to hurt. I must be willing to give whatever it takes not to harm other people and, in fact, to do good to them. This requires that I be willing to give until it hurts. Otherwise, there is no true love in me and I bring injustice, not peace, to those around me."

Date posted: 2014-09-22

If only our Bishops had thought to consult with David Gibson

He instructs the bishops it is no moral problem for Catholic institutions to pay for contraception, especially if done indirectly, because their payments would be only remote cooperation with evil. Gibson tells us that if the bishops had only mastered the material in Moral Theology 101, they would know that it is morally permissible to cooperate with evil remotely.

Date posted: 2014-07-22

What is Natural Law?

It cannot be stressed too strongly that natural law ethics do not proceed by positing the essence of man and then deducing or deriving moral norms from that essence. Nor can it be stressed too strongly that natural law does not proceed by looking at the world of nature and saying - "since X is the case, Y is moral or immoral." That is, it does not derive moral norms simply from observing that such and such is the case in the world as we know it. Natural law is an ethics that requires much observation of the world around us and also penetrating insight into the nature of things.

Date posted: 2014-06-08

If only our Bishops had thought to consult with David Gibson

How foolish our bishops were to not call upon David Gibson for a lesson in casuistry or hair-splitting! He instructs the bishops it is no moral problem for Catholic institutions to pay for contraception, especially if done indirectly, because their payments would be only remote cooperation with evil. Gibson tells us that if the bishops had only mastered the material in Moral Theology 101, they would know that it is morally permissible to cooperate with evil remotely.

Date posted: 2014-03-05

The Moral Vision of the Catechism

There is little question that promulgation of the Universal Catechism is one of the greatest events of this century - and perhaps for several centuries. It is a great privilege and honor to be here to comment on the moral vision of the catechism and to be in such distinguished company. I hardly feel myself worthy of the great honor of sharing the podium with such distinguished Churchmen and scholars, but as a philosopher I am accustomed to being the handmaiden of theology and am pleased to render what humble service I can.

Date posted: 2013-02-05

The Family: A Communion of Persons

The first portion of this paper presents in a sketchy form some of the philosophical principles that undergird John Paul II's thought on the family. A brief history of competing views of the family and of the human person will serve to set those views in high relief. The second portion of the paper lays out John Paul II's particular vision of the Catholic understanding of the family.

Date posted: 2012-09-24

Do Plan B and Ella cause early term abortions?

A recent New York Times article says no. But Dr. Donna Harrison who was at the FDA hearings that approved of requiring the labels for Ella notes that the best of science shows that scientists agree Ella works by preventing implantation.

Date posted: 2012-08-11

Promoting Humanae Vitae and Natural Family Planning in the Parish

Priests often ask me what they can do at the parish level to promote Humanae Vitae and Natural Family Planning. What must first be established is the importance of this task. I firmly believe that if priests inspired their parishioners to do just two things, most everything else they want to do with them and for them would be significantly easier. These two things are:

Date posted: 2012-06-25

More connections between contraception and approval of same sex unions

A few years ago I wrote a book, The Right To Privacy, in which I demonstrated how various court decisions linked contraception, abortion, assisted suicide and same sex unions. More recent cases again show the connections between approval of contraception and same sex unions: the willingness to disregard legislation altogether in favor of "penumbra" or vague implications.

Date posted: 2012-06-06

Fetal Rights

Those who believe abortion to be a morally permissible act are not troubled by the charge that use of aborted fetal tissue amounts to complicity in abortion. Since they do not believe the fetus is a person, they maintain that it is permissible to use fetal tissue much in the same way one could use the hair gathered from the floor of a barber shop. They see use of fetal tissue as transforming what seems to be needless waste into a compassionate good.

Date posted: 2012-05-08

Paul VI as Prophet

Prophecy is a tricky business. If a prophet predicts that something will happen and it does not, the prophet is discredited. But what if he predicts truly? Doesn't the truth of his prediction give credence to the prophet's insight, authority, reasoning - to whatever is the source of his ability to prophesy? Would we not be inclined to trust the one proven to be a true prophet?

Date posted: 2011-08-08

Moral Use of Natural Family Planning

The free and unfettered enjoyment of sexual intercourse by spouses is undoubtedly a source of much pleasure and many goods for spouses when the circumstances of their lives allow such. To be able find every pregnancy a welcome event, those unplanned as well as planned, is surely a great blessing. But there are times when couples must limit their family size and must curtail their sexual activity. They should be confident that if their decision to limit their family size is well discerned, in using NFP they should be confident that they are acting morally and not mistrusting God nor misusing their sexual powers.

Date posted: 2011-04-24

"Humanae Vitae" Heroic, Deficient - or Both?

Much of the opposition to the Church's teaching on contraception comes from those who have a problem with an authoritative Church, those who have been educated by dissenters, or those who are morally corrupt. Yet, again, I think a major problem is that few Catholics or others have ever heard ANY explanation of the Church's condemnation against contraception, whether one based on Humanae Vitae or Casti Connubii.

Date posted: 2011-02-03

Barnyard Morality

Our culture is a mess and it is largely young people and particularly young women who are suffering the consequences of this mess. We can hardly blame them for the choices they make since they are the choices that we have deemed "responsible". Most who contracept have little understanding of what damage it can do to their relationships and to society as a whole. But as any biologist knows, if one is ingesting poison, even if it is cleverly disguised as something good, one will still suffer the ill effects of the poison.

Date posted: 2010-11-14

The Introduction to "The Vatican Instruction"

Instruction on Respect for Human Life in Its Origin and on the Dignity of Procreation is primarily about the application of the principles of Catholic moral reasoning to specific medical procedures. ... If readers do not share these views, they will most likely not accept the principles that derive from these views, and they will most likely not accept the Instruction's application of these principles. That is, if readers do not understand and accept the claims of the introduction of the Instruction, there is no reason to believe that they will fully understand, appreciate or accept the claims of the remainder of the Instruction.

Date posted: 2010-09-06

The Wild and the Tame

Priests and bishops often shy away from preaching against contraception because they think people will be driven out of the Church. One of my most moving moments regarding Humanae Vitae was hearing Rex Moses, now of Corpus Christi, Texas tell how he and a large number of his extended family were converted to Catholicism after reading Humanae Vitae. Scott Hahn's experience and that of his wife Kimberly are also very telling. He and his wife stopped contracepting after she discovered the immorality of contraception while doing a research project on for a class in a Presbyterian seminary. The grace from that act of intellectual honesty and moral uprightness, I am convinced, was one of the major causes for their entry into the Church. Now their witness is drawing thousands closer to the Church and God.

Date posted: 2010-08-28

The Stalled and Stale Debate on "Humanae Vitae"

The year 1993 marks the twenty-fifth year anniversary of Humanae Vitae. Twenty-fifth year anniversaries seem to be a good time for taking stock. What is the status of the debate between traditionalists and revisionists on the issue of contraception?

Date posted: 2010-08-03

Sterilizations Reconsidered?

Cowdin and Tuohey argue that certain trends in ethical theory and moral theology warrant a rethinking of Catholic principles; they further argue that a proper rethinking would justify certain sterilizations... In sum, Cowdin and Tuohey's strategy for calling the Church to reconsider its condemnation of sterilization is marked by serious misunderstandings of Church teaching on the nature and source of moral norms, on autonomy, on bioethical principles, and on the meaning of sexuality. They provide no impetus for moralists to turn over the decision-making on such matters as the morality of sterilization to physicians.

Date posted: 2010-06-26

Life Issues in a Pluralistic Culture

Pluralism in this case goes to the very heart of existence; it strikes at the most fundamental of all rights, the right to life. Pluralism in the life issues means that some people approve of the taking of innocent human life, some people do not; some approve of the making of babies in laboratories and others do not; some people approve of the killing of the dying and infirm and others do not. These values are not just pluralistic but contradictory. This is not a tolerable pluralism. We no longer share a common vision of man and of life from which we can then construct a social system protecting man's fundamental rights.

Date posted: 2010-06-15

Abortion as a Feminist Concern

Rather than being a "right" of women, abortion is a great disservice to women, one which reflects both a growing lack of appreciation among women for those powers and capacities which are distinctly theirs as women and a growing despair that women are willing and able to be full participants in society and to make the sometimes noble sacrifices demanded of individuals for the good of society Seeing abortion as solely a matter of women's rights assumes that the fetus has no rights or that the rights of the woman are unquestionably superior. But abortion, no matter where it tits into the scheme of the rights for women, is a violation of the right to life for another human being.

Date posted: 2009-09-09

Sex Selection

Pro-abortion feminists who should be raising a clarion call of outrage are willing to accept the slaughter of unborn females in preference to male babies because they fear any restriction on sex selection since restriction of any abortion threatens all abortions. The logic is on the side of the pro-abortion crowd - if it is all right for a woman to kill her baby through abortion for any reason whatsoever, why would it be wrong for her to kill her girl babies if she, her husband, or her culture prefers a boy? Legalized abortion has unleashed a Pandora's box of evils and until we make it illegal, it pernicious effects will continue to proliferate.

Date posted: 2009-08-08

Mary Ann Glendon's Abortion and Divorce in Western Law

Most Americans would most likely await a compliment when they hear the claim "The United States is in a class by itself." But for many this expectation will be sadly dashed when they read these words in Mary Ann Glendon's Abortion and Divorce in Western Law and they learn that she is claiming that American abortion and divorce laws are the most liberal in the Western world and that they provide the least protection for the fetus and for the children of divorced parents.

Date posted: 2009-05-16

Children: the Supreme Gift of Marriage

What I wish to explore here is how the modern age has a philosophical and theological dysfunctionality in respect to its understanding of children and their intrinsic importance, and of the importance of children to their parents and society. At the risk of sounding unduly alarmist, I must observe that our society has nearly reached a state of philosophical insanity in respect to the value of human life, the value of babies and the meaning of sexuality. A state of philosophical insanity means that we are fundamentally and basically denying the reality of fundamental and basic truths to the point that our behavior is dangerously self-destructive.

Date posted: 2009-04-06

Artificial vs. Natural?

It is encouraging that some of the texts are very clear in the presentation that the all the chemical forms of contraception and the IUD work on occasion as abortifacients - that is, they sometimes work by preventing the implantation of the fertilized ovum (the new little human being). The distressing and frustrating bad news is that these texts give a false explanation of the reasons for condemning contraceptives as contraceptives.

Date posted: 2009-01-19

Children: the Supreme Gift of Marriage

What I wish to explore here is how the modern age has a philosophical and theological dysfunctionality in respect to its understanding of children and their intrinsic importance, and of the importance of children to their parents and society. At the risk of sounding unduly alarmist, I must observe that our society has nearly reached a state of philosophical insanity in respect to the value of human life, the value of babies and the meaning of sexuality. A state of philosophical insanity means that we are fundamentally and basically denying the reality of fundamental and basic truths to the point that our behavior is dangerously self-destructive.

Date posted: 2008-12-29

Fetal Rights

Recent medical research indicates that tissue from the brains of fetuses could provide considerable assistance to individuals suffering from such diseases as Alzheimer's and Parkinson's. It is also possible to transplant organs, such as livers, from fetus to fetus. To date, the US government has sustained a highly controversial ban against the use of fetal tissue for research purposes or for purposes of transplantation. This decision has met with great opposition from those who think that it is cruel and inhumane not to provide whatever relief possible to those suffering from various debilitating diseases.

Date posted: 2008-11-14

Contraception: Why Not?

My topic is the Church's teaching on contraception and various sexual issues. As you know, we live in a culture that thinks that contraception is one of the greatest inventions in the history of mankind. If you were to ask people if they wanted to give up their car or their computer or their contraceptive, it would be a hard choice to make. It's really considered to be something that has really put us, greatly, into the modern age and one of the greatest advances of modern medicine and modern times. Yet, there's this archaic church that tells us that, really, this is one of the worst inventions of mankind. According to the Church, contraception is one of the things that's plunging us into a kind of a disaster.

Date posted: 2008-11-07

Catholics and Contraception: An American History

Still, even the insufficient material Tentler presents tends to undermine her argument. While reading Catholics and Contraception, I discovered a new hero, Father John Ford, who worked very hard to get the Vatican and the American episcopacy to continue their strong advocacy of the Church's teaching on sexuality. His is one of many stories here that remind us of a vibrant time in the Church's past. Thus, in spite of my complaints about this book, I am enthusiastically recommending it as a portrait of a vibrant time in the Church's past, one I think young priests and young couples might well revive.

Date posted: 2008-11-07

The Vocation of Christian Marriage as an Approach to the Bioethics of Human Reproduction

Marriage is an institution that has been around as long as mankind. One would think, then, that we would know a lot more about marriage than we do. If anything, current statistics on divorce and infidelity would seem to indicate that we are regressing rather than progressing in our understanding of marriage. Here is not the place to rehearse the misunderstandings of the nature of marriage that are rampant in contemporary society. The challenge here is to determine what truth or truths about the objective reality of marriage need to be heard by our contemporaries and to explore how we might get them to see and accept the objective reality of marriage. The intent here is to use this information to understand better the Vatican teaching that in vitro fertilization (IVF) and embryo transfer (ET) are morally impermissible even for spouses.

Date posted: 2008-10-17

Contraception and the Sexual Revolution

The sexual revolution of the sixties was a true revolution; our understanding and practice of sex changed radically. Contraception made sex outside of marriage "doable" in an unprecedented way. The modern world thinks of sex as a momentary pleasure that requires no commitment to one's sexual partner nor to any children that may result. Pregnancy is now considered largely an "accident" of sexual intercourse. The landscape of our lives is now cluttered with individuals damaged by unsuccessful "love" affairs (was true love really involved?), broken marriages, children born out of wedlock (1 in 3 are) and women and men hurt by abortions (nearly 1 in 3 pregnancies is aborted).

Date posted: 2008-07-26

An Application of an Ethics of Virtue to the Issue of Abortion

Much ethical theory has recognized that the very importance of the attempt to live an ethical life lies in the fact that in acting the individual forms herself or himself either for the better or for the worse. That is, each and every human act, each act stemming from the deliberate choice of the human agent determines the type of human being an individual is, or in other words, the kind of moral character which an individual has. Then, in turn, the moral character which one has influences what decisions one makes. For those who share this perspective, one of the foremost questions to be asked by the moral agent in determining the rightness or wrongness of an act is: What kind of person will I become if I do this act?

Date posted: 2006-03-15

Promoting Humanae Vitae and Natural Family Planning in the Parish

Priests often ask me what they can do at the parish level to promote Humanae Vitae and Natural Family Planning. What must first be established is the importance of this task. I firmly believe that if priests inspired their parishioners to do just two things, most everything else they want to do with them and for them would be significantly easier. These two things are: Promoting Eucharistic Adoration and, promoting fidelity to the Church's teaching on sexuality.

Date posted: 2004-01-01

Humanae Vitae: A Challenge to Love

A Challenge to Love is a relatively short explanation of Humanae Vitae and why the Church's teaching on contraception is correct.

Date posted: 2003-09-17

The Connection between Contraception and Abortion

Many in the pro-life movement are reluctant to make a connection between contraception and abortion. They insist that these are two very different acts -- that there is all the difference in the world between contraception, which prevents a life from coming to be and abortion, which takes a life that has already begun. Let's take a look at the facts.

Date posted: 2001-12-31

The Christian View of Sex

Christians need to provide apologetics and explanations why faithfulness and why responsibility towards children are two of the defining characteristics of marriage. Moderns, I think, are tired of unfaithfulness, tired of shallow and brief relationships; they crave something more meaningful, something on which they can rely. Young people are rather sick of divorce. Christians who have the wisdom of the centuries should strive mightily themselves to live chaste lives and to form loving marriages and families, for such is vital to their eternal salvation and such may well be vital to the temporal well-being of the whole of society.

Date posted: 2001-12-31