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Academy for Life president defends nomination of Anglican theologian


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VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- The Pontifical Academy for Life is and always will be against abortion and is committed to involving increasing numbers of people in the defense of human life, said Archbishop Vincenzo Paglia, academy president.

In an interview posted June 17 on the Vatican Insider website, Archbishop Paglia defended the nomination of Nigel Biggar, an Anglican professor of moral theology, as a member of the academy.

Tweeting about the interview, which was in Italian, Archbishop Paglia wrote, "Translation: 'Our NO to abortion is a total NO!'"

Several newspapers and pro-life organizations, including the American Life League, questioned the appointment of Biggar, citing a 2011 interview and debate he was part of with a philosopher who is strongly pro-abortion.

The interview-debate between Biggar and Peter Singer was printed in the online edition of the British Standpoint magazine. Critics focused on Biggar's statement in the piece that he "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."

The larger point of his argument, though, was to argue against Singer's greater openness to abortion and even infanticide in circumstances where a baby is severely ill or disabled.

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