The Catholic University of America Press

The Ethics of Procreation and the Defense of Human Life

Contraception, Artificial Fertilization, and Abortion

Martin Rhonheimer
Edited by William F. Murphy Jr.

Paper 978-0-8132-1722-2 $39.95
February 2010 In Print Add to Cart
E-Book 978-0-8132-1805-2 $39.95
August 2012 In Print Add to Cart

Building on the renewal of Thomistic ethics encouraged by key moral encyclicals including Humanae Vitae, Veritatis Splendor, and Evangelium Vitae, Swiss philosopher Martin Rhonheimer revisits some of the most difficult questions regarding the ethics of procreation and human life. The book offers a rigorous argument on the contested question of contraception and related matters, and similarly engages disputed questions surrounding abortion.

With Rhonheimer's characteristic circumspection and rigor, his discussion of sexual ethics provides compelling argumentation in support of Catholic teaching against contraception. He applies this analysis to the related case of using contraceptives under the threat of rape. Rhonheimer agrees with trusted Catholic moralists, who from the early 1960s to the present have concluded that such use would be licit. He shows, moreover, both the flaws in alternative analyses and how the same conclusions can be reached in a defensible manner while upholding the teachings of Humanae Vitae and Veritatis Splendor.

Rhonheimer applies his philosophical acumen to another set of difficult moral questions about contemporary threats to the sanctity of human life, including artificial reproduction and abortion. Regarding artificial reproduction, his treatment further illustrates both the fecundity of his application of Thomistic virtue and action analysis and his insistence on the moral link between sex and procreation. Finally, he not only provides a rigorous rebuttal of some of the leading arguments justifying abortion, but offers readers an example of his writings in political philosophy through a profound reflection on the defense of human life in a constitutional democracy.


Martin Rhonheimer is professor of ethics and political philosophy at the Pontifical University of the Holy Cross in Rome. His publications include a dozen books, several of which have been translated into multiple languages. Ethics of Procreation and the Defense of Human Life was brought into English by William F. Murphy Jr., associate professor of moral theology at the Pontifical College Josephinum and editor of the Josephinum Journal of Theology.


"Martin Rhonheimer has been a key voice in the revival of natural law theorizing and casuistry in recent decades. His work is triply important for this revival. . . . [An] important and rewarding book." --Christopher Tollefsen, Thomist

Product Details

Pages:xxi, 309 pages

Dimensions:6x9 inches


CIP Information: 2009038932/ RG133.5.R56 2010/ 179.7'6--dc22


1. Human reproductive technology--Religious aspects--Catholic church

2. Abortion--Religious aspects--Catholic church

3. Contraception--Religious aspects--Catholic church