What Price Human Life?

  • Michael J. Coughlan


The publication of the document, Instruction on Respect for Human Life in its Origin and on the Dignity of Procreation, in February 1987, met with a predictably mixed response. Some, mainly non-Catholics but including some Catholics too, had difficulty in comprehending how an institution which had for so long and so steadfastly swum against the tide of the liberalisation of contraception and abortion, apparently on the ground that procreation constitutes the natural fulfilment of marriage, could now, with equal resolve, oppose the best-intentioned efforts to secure this fulfilment for the significant proportion of married couples who needed the assistance of advanced medical techniques. But, for those who were a little more intimately acquainted with the mind of the Church, the thrust of the Instruction’s teaching came as no surprise. Desirable as the aims of the procreation technologists might be, the means adopted to achieve those aims were perceived to be just as unacceptable as the practices of contraception and abortion, and for closely correlated reasons.


Human Life Capital Punishment Early Death Human Embryo Moral Evil 
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  1. 2.
    E.g., G. E. M. Anscombe in ‘Action, Intention and Double Effect’, Proceedings of the American Catholic Philosophical Association, vol. LVI, (1982), p. 24.Google Scholar
  2. 3.
    Reviewed by R. A. McCormick in ‘Notes on Moral Theology: 1980’, Theological Studies, vol. 42, (1981), 80f.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Michael J. Coughlan 1990

Authors and Affiliations

  • Michael J. Coughlan
    • 1
  1. 1.Saint David’s University CollegeLampeterUK

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