Snead book recognized in New York Times as one of “Ten Books to Understand Abortion Debate in US”

Author: Kenneth Hallenius

What It Means to Be Human - cover

A new article in the New York Times has recommended O. Carter Snead’s book What It Means to Be Human: The Case for the Body in Public Bioethics (Harvard University Press, 2020) as one of “Ten Books to Understand the Abortion Debate in the United States.” Snead is a professor of law in Notre Dame Law School, concurrent professor of political science, and director of the de Nicola Center for Ethics and Culture at the University of Notre Dame.

“With insight and provocation, Snead, a bioethicist, examines the questions that abortion raises about the meaning of human life,” Joshua Prager wrote in the May 5, 2022, article.

“I am honored and grateful that the New York Times found my book to be an essential resource for understanding this extraordinary moment,” Snead said. “The Supreme Court of the United States may well be poised to reverse its confused and confusing jurisprudence of abortion and return the matter to the political branches for resolution, where the issue is addressed nearly everywhere else in the world.” Snead continued, “As a Notre Dame faculty member, I’m also delighted that my scholarship is able to advance the University’s institutional commitment to building a culture of life where every member of the human family—born and unborn—is cared for and protected by law.”

Snead’s book has garnered a number of accolades since its publication in October 2020. It was chosen by the Wall Street Journal as one of "The Ten Best Books of 2020"; in his review for the same paper, Yuval Levin called it “among the most important works of moral philosophy produced so far in this century.” In 2021, Snead and his book received the Expanded Reason Award in Research from the University Francisco de Vitoria, in conjunction with the Joseph Ratzinger-Benedict XVI Vatican Foundation. It has been reviewed and discussed in nearly forty additional outlets, both scholarly and popular, including the New York Post, USA Today, the Quarterly Review of Biology, the Review of Metaphysics, the American Journal of Jurisprudence, Ethics and Medicine, and Mars Hill Audio Journal.

What It Means to Be Human has generated significant conversations within and beyond the academy,” said Sarah Mustillo, I. A. O’Shaughnessy Dean and Professor of Sociology in the College of Arts and Letters at the University. “His book explores difficult and vital questions at the intersection of law, public policy, biotechnology, philosophy, and ethics—hallmarks of Professor Snead's interdisciplinary work as the director of the College's de Nicola Center for Ethics and Culture."

“Professor Snead’s research sets him apart as one of the world’s leading experts in the field of public bioethics—the governance of biotechnology, medicine, and the biosciences in the name of ethical goods,” added G. Marcus Cole, the Joseph A. Matson Dean and Professor of Law at Notre Dame Law School. “His contributions as a scholar and mentor to our students and the Law School community have been incalculable, and we are proud that the synthesis of his work in What It Means to Be Human has been recognized as an essential contribution to the fraught public discussion about abortion.”

Snead is one of the world's leading experts on public bioethics. His research explores issues relating to neuroethics, enhancement, human embryo research, assisted reproduction, abortion, and end-of-life decision-making. He teaches Law & Bioethics, Health Law, Torts, and Constitutional Criminal Procedure at Notre Dame Law School. In addition to What It Means to Be Human, Snead is the author of more than 60 academic journal articles, book chapters, and essays. He is also the editor of two book series at the University of Notre Dame Press: "Catholic Ideas for a Secular World" and "Notre Dame Studies in Bioethics and Medical Ethics."

In 2016, Snead was appointed to the Pontifical Academy for Life, the principal bioethics advisory body to Pope Francis. He is also an elected fellow of the Hastings Center, the oldest independent bioethics research institute in the world. Snead received his J.D., magna cum laude, from Georgetown University, where he was elected to the Order of the Coif, and his bachelor of arts from St. John’s College in Annapolis, Maryland. He clerked for Judge Paul J. Kelly Jr. of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit.