The question of life itself
Over the past year, I’ve frequently reported on the subject of abortion when it crosses my path as the national religion correspondent for The Times. In the months following the overturning of Roe v. Wade by the Supreme Court, one question kept coming back: when does life begin?
This question is both elementary and complicated. It has also become so politicized that thoughtful engagement is difficult. Even the question itself can be confusing. In biological terms, when is an organism an organism? Or philosophically, what makes a human a person? And spiritually, when does a human being have a soul?
Humans have wrestled with the question of when life begins across time and cultures. Over the past few months, I’ve spoken with scientists, philosophers, and spiritual leaders to explore the issue and learn how people think about it. The resulting story is published online here.
One mother I interviewed told me that the question of life and when it begins seems so much more important than the fights we hear about in politics – and she’s right. This issue also crosses the boundaries of law and science and touches the heart of the human experience.
When journalists report on a piece of legislation or investigate a specific event, some answers are clear and can be found. Exploring a question itself is not quite like that. My report does not respond to this one. Instead, I hope that by writing about the quest for an answer, I offer you space and ideas to reflect on your own perspective and maybe even start a conversation with your friends and family. on a subject that may seem taboo.
Last year around this time I explored how people make sense of time. The year before, as Covid deaths increased, I wrote about how we survive winter. I talked about the value of life in America, the cycles of apocalypse in human history, and what it means to be personally and culturally transformed.
These are all matters of mind. And these are questions that humans share across divides.
Read Elizabeth’s latest story on an issue that “goes far beyond politics, law and science to the core of human experience”.
THE LAST NEWS
Welcome to a new cultural year. Among the releases Times critics are most looking forward to:
Marguerite Lyons Can’t wait for “Succession” season 4: “Oh, I can hear the jangly piano theme now, and just knowing that the bereft and broken Roys, their beautifully cruel dialogue, and their never-ending, never-ending quests for power joy will be back on my screen soon fills me with joy.
Mike Hale Looking forward to two crime dramas that take different approaches to a venerable format, mystery of the week: Fox’s “Accused” and Peacock’s “Poker Face.” The first two this month.
Zachary Woolf recommends a production of Wagner’s “Lohengrin,” a time absent from the 25 or 30 titles central to the Metropolitan Opera’s history. “It will be a major event when, on February 26, the opera finally returns to New York in a new staging.”