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O. Carter Snead on Bioethics, ‘What It Means to Be Human,’ and the Pro-Life Movement After Dobbs

Perhaps no field in society has the naked power, as does bioethics, to impact our individual lives and those of the ones we love. Bioethics focuses on the challenges of mortality, how we care for the ill and vulnerable, and the rights and responsibilities that flow from being a member of the human family. The problem is that there is little agreement about how to define these issues and the policies that best promote human thriving. The mainstream view in bioethics rejects the intrinsic dignity of human life — and supports policies in accord with that view. The minority of the field argues that being human is — in and of itself — a crucial objective category to properly understanding our rights that compels us us to undertake crucial responsibilities toward each other, society, and the world at large. Wesley’s guest in this episode is, Dr. O. Carter Snead, is one of the world’s premier thinkers in the latter camp. He is the William P. and Hazel B White Director of the Nicola Center for Ethics and Culture, at Notre Dame University, where he also serves as a professor of law and concurrent professor of Political Science. He is also a fellow at the Hastings Center and a member of the Pontifical Academy for Life, the principle bioethics advisory body to Pope Francis. He has written more than 60 journal articles, book chapters, and essays. His scholarly works appear in such publications as the New York University Law Review, the Harvard Law Review Forum, the Vanderbilt Law Review, Constitutional Commentary, and the Yale Journal of Health Policy, Law and Ethics. Snead served as general counsel to The President’s Council on Bioethics. In 2008, he was appointed by the director-general of UNESCO to a four-year term on the International Bioethics Committee. The IBC is the only bioethics commission in the world with a global mandate.  Snead is the author of What It Means to Be Human: The Case for the Body in Public Bioethics, which was named by the Wall Street Journal as one of the “Ten Best Books of 2020.” O. Carter Snead | The Law School | University of Notre Dame ( What It Means to Be Human: The Case for the Body in Public Bioethics – Kindle edition by Snead, O. Carter. Politics & Social Sciences Kindle eBooks @ Protect the Weak and Vulnerable: The Primacy of the Life Issue – Public Discourse ( To heal America’s wounds, we need to recall that we belong to one another (