Last updated on: 5/29/2014 | Author:

Robert P. George, JD, DPhil Biography

McCormick Professor of Jurisprudence at Princeton University
Con to the question "Should Abortion Be Legal?"

“[T]he choice of abortion is objectively immoral…

[A]s early as eight or ten weeks of gestation, the fetus has a fully formed, beating heart, a complete brain… a recognizably human form…

There are three important points we wish to make about this human embryo. First, it is from the start distinct from any cell of the mother or of the father. This is clear because it is growing in its own distinct direction. Its growth is internally directed to its own survival and maturation. Second, the embryo is human: it has the genetic makeup characteristic of human beings. Third, and most importantly, the embryo is a complete or whole organism, though immature. The human embryo, from conception onward, is fully programmed actively to develop himself or herself to the mature stage of a human being, and, unless prevented by disease or violence, will actually do so

So, a human embryo (or fetus) is not something distinct from a human being; he or she is not an individual of any non-human or intermediate species. Rather, an embryo (and fetus) is a human being at a certain (early) stage of development – the embryonic (or fetal) stage. In abortion, what is killed is a human being, a whole living member of the species homo sapiens, the same kind of entity as you or I, only at an earlier stage of development.”

Cowritten with Patrick Lee, “The Wrong of Abortion,” Contemporary Debates in Applied Ethics, Ed. Andrew I. Cohen and Christopher Wellman, 2005

Involvement and Affiliations:
  • Director, James Madison Program in American Ideals and Institutions, Princeton University, 2000-present
  • McCormick Professor of Jurisprudence, Department of Politics, Princeton University, 1999-present
  • Of Counsel, Robinson & McElwee PLLC, 1990-present
  • Corresponding Member, UNESCO World Commission on the Ethics of Scientific Knowledge and Technology
  • Appointed to the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF), 2012 (elected as Chair in July 2013 and sworn in on September 9, 2013)
  • Member, Council on Foreign Relations
  • Vice-Chairman, Board of Directors, Ethics and Public Policy Center
  • Member, Board of Directors, Ethics and Public Policy Center, Institute for American Values, Lynde & Harry Bradley Foundation, and Center for Individual Rights
  • Judge Guido Calabresi Lecturer, Yale University, 2008
  • John Dewey Lecturer in Philosophy of Law, Harvard University, 2007
  • Presidential Appointee to the United States Commission on Civil Rights, 1993-1998
  • Judicial Fellow, United States Supreme Court, 1989-1990
  • Visiting Fellow in Law, New College, Oxford University, 1988-1989
  • Lecturer in Jurisprudence, New College, Oxford University, 1982-1985
  • Former member, President’s Council on Bioethics
  • DPhil, Oxford University
  • JD, Harvard University
  • AB, Swarthmore College, 1977
  • Member, Board of Advisors, National Association of Scholars
  • Member, Publication Committee, National Affairs
  • Member, Editorial Board, American Journal of Jurisprudence, Journal of Law, Philosophy, and Culture, International Journal of Biotechnology Law, First Things
  • Former member, Board of Directors, Institute for American Values and Institute on Religion and Democracy
  • Recipient, Honorific Medal for the Defense of Human Rights (Republic of Poland), 2010
  • Recipient, United States Presidential Citizens Medal, 2008
  • Recipient, Bradley Prize for Intellectual and Civic Achievement, 2005
  • Recipient, Justice Tom C. Clark Award, US Supreme Court
  • Recipient, Stanley Kelley, Jr. Teaching Award, Princeton University
  • Recipient, Richard M. Weaver Award for Scholarly Letters
  • Recipient, Paul Bator Award, Federalist Society for Law and Public Policy
  • Recipient, Silver Gavel Award, American Bar Association
  • Listed on the Templeton Foundation Honor Roll of Outstanding Professors
  • Holds honorary doctorates of law, ethics, science, letters, civil law, humane letters, and juridical science
  • Recipient, Knox Fellowship, Harvard University
Quoted in:
Pro & Con Quotes: Should Abortion Be Legal?