KATHRYN JEAN LOPEZ: What are your thoughts as D.C. is about to see a March for Life against 41 years of legal abortion in America?
FRANCIS J. BECKWITH: Even though the advocates of the belief that unborn life lacks moral status have had over four decades to completely inoculate the wider culture from the sanctity-of-life ethic (through the media, the academy, and entertainment), they have been astonishingly unsuccessful in doing so. The March for Life, and the increasing numbers that participate every year, is as clear evidence of this failure as one could have imagined. And what makes it more astonishing is that no one in the march has a self-interest in its cause succeeding, since no one who marches is an unborn child.
LOPEZ: In what ways is the abortion debate really about human equality?
BECKWITH: No one — not even the most sophisticated advocate of abortion choice — denies that the unborn are human beings, but one can only exclude them from the community of those whose lives we must respect if one claims that they lack some morally significant characteristic that is possessed by mature and healthy human beings.
If this is true, as some abortion-choice advocates maintain, then some human beings are so intrinsically inferior to others that they not only lack moral status but they can be killed without justification. Consequently, according to this perspective, possessing a human nature in and of itself is not morally significant. This is why in Defending Life I call some abortion-choice supporters Anti-Equality Advocates (AEAs).
LOPEZ: Is there an irony in the twin January memorials of Martin Luther King’s death and the Roe v. Wade decision?