This news report is provided Courtesy of Catholic News Agency
Philosopher Nigel Biggar, who backs legal abortion, is among the 45 new appointments to the Pontifical Academy for Life, according to a statement on the Vatican website.
Biggar, the Regius Professor of Moral and Pastoral Theology at the University of Oxford, has said that he supports legal abortion up to 18 weeks.
In a 2011 dialogue with Peter Singer, a philosopher who supports infanticide, Biggar said: “I would be inclined to draw the line for abortion at 18 weeks after conception, which is roughly about the earliest time when there is some evidence of brain activity, and therefore of consciousness. In terms of maintaining a strong social commitment to preserving human life in hindered forms, and in terms of not becoming too casual about killing human life, we need to draw the line much more conservatively.”
He added: “It’s not clear that a human foetus is the same kind of thing as an adult or a mature human being, and therefore deserves quite the same treatment. It then becomes a question of where we draw the line, and there is no absolutely cogent reason for drawing it in one place over another.”
Biggar has also opposed the legalization of assisted suicide, and written in defense of just war.
Other appointments to the Academy include Carl Anderson, Supreme Knight of the Knights of Columbus, Dr. John M. Haas, President of the National Catholic Bioethics Center in Philadelphia, and Archbishop Anthony Fisher of Sydney.
The pontifical academy was founded by Pope St. John Paul II and professor Jerome Lejeune in 1994 and is dedicated to promoting the Church’s consistent life ethic.
The appointments come at a time when the Pontifical Academy for Life is under sharp scrutiny and criticism from former members, who are concerned by the actions of current president Archbishop Vincenzo Paglia, who has been head of the Academy for nine months.
In November, Archbishop Paglia implemented new statutes for the academy that ended the terms of the 172 members of the academy (with some subject to possible renewal), and removed a requirement for new members to sign a statement promising to…
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