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Symposium, Matters of Life and Death : Religion and Law at the Crossroads


This Article contends that excluding apparently religious perspectives from public debate may inadvertently exclude non-religious perspectives as well, consequently impoverishing public discussion. This contention is demonstrated through an examination of the current debate over embryonic stem cell research, in which the pro-life position is often declared unacceptably religious. The truth is that those who envision the unborn as under construction in the womb do not find a human being present when gestation has just begun, while those who understand the unborn to be developing see an identity of being from conception. But neither view is based on religion. To disqualify the pro-life view as religious would exclude from public debate an important secular perspective.


This paper was presented at the symposium, Matters of Life and Death : Religion and Law at the Crossroads, held March 20, 2007, at Boston College Law School and sponsored by the Boston College Law School Law & Religion Program.