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Dr. Janet E. Smith

B.A., M.A., Ph.D., School of Theology, Fr. Michael J. McGivney Chair in Life Ethics, Professor of Moral Theology. B.A. (Classics), Grinnell College, 1972; M.A. (Classical Languages), University of North Carolina, 1975; Ph.D. (Classical Languages), University of Toronto, 1982. At SHMS 2001-present.


Janet E. Smith holds the Father Michael J. McGivney Chair of Life Ethics at Sacred Heart Major Seminary in Detroit.


She is the author of Humanae Vitae: A Generation Later and of the Right to Privacy, and the editor of Why Humanae Vitae Was Right: A Reader. She has coauthored Life Issues, Medical Choices, Questions and Answers for Catholics, with Chris Kaczor. She has published in The Thomist, The Irish Theological Quarterly, Nova et Vetera, The American Catholic Philosophical Quarterly, The National Catholic Bioethics Journal, among other publications.


She speaks nationally and internationally on the Catholic teachings on sexuality and on bioethics.


She is serving a third term as a consultor to the Pontifical Council on the Family and she serves the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian unity as a member of the Anglican Roman Catholic International Commission, III.


She has received two honorary doctorates and several other awards for scholarship and service.


She has appeared on the Geraldo show, Fox Morning News, CNN International, CNN Newsroom, Al Jazeera and has done many shows for various series on EWTN.



More than two million copies of her talk, Contraception: Why Not have been distributed. An updated version of Contraception: Why Not and a series of talks "Sexual Common Sense" are available through



Speaking Engagements


Date Sponsor / Location Conference Title City State
March 14, 2015

Ss. Cyril and Methodius

18th Lenten Symposium - Holy Trinity Apostolate

Barbara Middleton: 586-243-6199

Sterling Heights MI
March 24, 2015

St. Ambrose and the Ark


Defense of Marriage

Sheila Argue: 248-425-1784

Detroit MI
March 28, 2015

Old St. Patrick Parish Cntr.

The Beginning:  The Original Experience

Dawn Hausmann: 517-342-2506

Ann Arbor MI
April 16, 2015

University of St. Thomas

St. Paul MN

Siena Symposium for Women, Family and Culture

Dr. Deborah Savage: 651-962-5061

St. Paul MN
April 18, 2015

Archdiocese of Chicago

St. Paul of the Cross, Park Ridge IL

Respect Life Coordinators Conference:  Contraception and HHS

Victor Garcia: 312-534-5355

Park Ridge IL
April 26 - May 5, 2015 ARCIC Annual Meeting Rome Italy
June 17-24, 2015 World Council of Churches

Commission on Faith and Order


August 11-13, 2015

Courage International and the Archdiocese of Detroit

The Inn at St. John

Pastoral Approaches to Same-Sex Issues

Fr. Paul Check and Prof. Janet Smith

Plymouth MI
September 22-27, 2015

Pontifical Council for the Family


World Meeting of Families

Mary Beth Yount: 610-358-4224

Philadelphia PA
October 17, 2015

Pittsburgh Diocese 

Card. Wuerl N. Catholic High School Auditorium

Women's Conference

Christine Raizin: 412-519-7909

Cranberry Twsp PA


To Schedule a Speaking Event:

Send an email to this address:  Prof. Smith Event Coordinator

Frequently Asked Questions:

Click here for document with answers and links


Moral Use of Natural Family Planning

Click here for this article.

Class Materials:

Grammar Rules link

Writing a Philosophy Paper link



Click on these bookmarks to find a list of these papers, documents, books, etc.

Books and Cds

Published Articles

Op-Ed Pieces and Editorials

MOSAIC: A Culture of Life

Dossier  Columns

Amy Foundation Columns

Unpublished Talks



Dr. Janet Smith's Books and CDs


Humanae Vitae: A Generation Later

by Janet E. Smith, Ph.D.
Published by CUA Press
ISBN: 0813207401



Washington D.C.; Catholic University of America Press, 1991; 426pp.


Prof. Smith draws from theology, philosophy, and classical studies to examine the arguments for and against Catholic Church teaching on contraception.


She includes a heavily annotated translation of Humanae Vitae from the original Latin that is especially valuable. This is not light reading, but extremely worthwhile.


Why Humanae Vitae Was Right: A Reader

by Janet E. Smith, Ph.D.
Published by Ignatius Press
ISBN: 0898704332 

San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 1993


Rather than end the debate over artificial means of contraception once and for all, the encyclical letter Humane Vitae only energized the debate when it appeared in 1968, and that debate continues to this day. Janet E. Smith presents a comprehensive review of this issue from a philosophical and theological perspective.


Tracing the emergence of the debate from the mid-1960s and reviewing the documents from the Special Papl Commission established to advise Pope Paul VI, Smith also examines the Catholic Church's position on marriage, which provides context for its condemnation of contraception.


Life Issues and Medical Choices: Questions and Answers for Catholics

by Janet E. Smith coauthored with Christopher Kaczor, Published by Servant Books

ISBN: 978-0867168082

Servant Books, 2007, revised edition, 2009


Medical and technological advances over the last decades have left millions of Catholics grappling with tough issues. When is it permissible to remove a feeding tube from a patient? Is the use of contraceptives for medical purposes acceptable? Is it morally acceptable to try to select the sex of one s baby? What is the difference between ordinary and extraordinary means of preserving life? How does determination of death affect organ donation?

Life Issues, Medical Choices not only provides answers to many questions troubling Catholics, it also supplies fundamental principles of Catholic thought to help readers arrive at morally sound decisions in those areas that have yet to be settled.

Janet Smith and Christopher Kaczor offer clear guidance to help you make decisions about complex medical and life issues.


The Right to Privacy

by Janet E. Smith

Published by Ignatius Press

ISBN: 978-1586172596

National Catholic Bioethics Center, Ignatius Press (September 1, 2008)


Janet Smith, well-known philosophy professor and writer, presents a critical look at the meaning of the "right to privacy" that has been so often employed by the Supreme Court in recent times to justify the creation of rights not found in the Constitution by any traditional method of interpreting a legal document. Smith shows how these inventions have led to the legal protection of abortion, assisted suicide, homosexual acts, and more.


As Judge Bork says it shows that "morals legislation now seems constitutionally impermissible", and that the counterfeit right to privacy belongs to the genre of the indecipherable and incoherent that no one who wrote the Constitution and the Bill of Rights would have contemplated.


Contraception: Why Not - 3rd Edition - CD

Over two million copies of this talk have been distributed.  It is available on CD, MP3 and DVD, as well as in Spanish.  

To purchase this CD, contact by clicking here.

Sexual Common Sense series

There is no question that our culture is a sexual mess -- which translates into a lot of broken hearts and broken lives. The Catholic Church has a wisdom about sexuality derived from Scripture and natural law (good common sense) that too few Catholics know and live.


Why is sex outside of marriage so destructive? Why is contraception wrong? What is the conscience and its role in decision making? What is the connection between contraception, abortion, assisted suicide, and same-sex unions? Prof. Janet Smith covers these and other crucial topics in this provocative series of 12 CD presentations.

To purchase this CD set, contact by clicking here.

There are several other topics on CD and MP3.  These are excellent to share with parishioners, family and friends.

Contraception: Why Not

Hormones R’ Us:  Little Known Effects of Hormones on Sexual Attraction

Homosexuality: Why Not

Theology of the Body

New Reproductive Technologies:  Why Not

NFP: Is it Moral?

Over-Population: The Facts

Culture of Life vs. Culture of Death

Just Follow Your Conscience

The Family as a Path to Holiness

Contraception: The History

Contraception: Dissent

Why Premarital Sex is Stupid

Life Issues, Medical Choices: Questions and Answers for Catholics

Natural Sex is Best

Humanae Vitae and Conscience

Healthy Passion: Understanding the Owner’s Manual

The Eucharist, One Flesh Union, and Self-Giving Love

Why Human Life is So Highly Valued

The Theology of the Body and the Single Life


To purchase any of these CDs, contact by clicking here.

Published Articles

To view a list of articles, click on the links below:

To Request a copy of any article, please send an email to this address:  Prof. Smith Event Coordinator



Op-Ed Pieces and Editorials

A list is available at this link.

To Request a copy of any article, please send an email to this address:  Prof. Smith Event Coordinator


MOSAIC: A Culture of Life

  1. Chance or Design
  2. Culture of Collaboration
  3. Election 2008: Holding Fast to the Message
  4. How to Enlighten a Darkened Conscience
  5. In the Service of Love
  6. Like a "Slave in the Womb"
  7. The Masculinity and Femininity of Celibates
  8. Priests, Prayer and a Glorious Retreat
  9. Scriptural Support for a Pro-Life Ethic
  10. The Story of the World
  11. We feed Roses, Don't We?
  12. What's so Bad about Sex Selection"
  13. Why Not Assisted Suicide?

To Request a copy of any article, please send an email to this address:  Prof. Smith Event Coordinator


Dossier Articles

Click here for a list of the many articles written between 1995 and 2002.

To Request a copy of any article, please send an email to this address:  Prof. Smith Event Coordinator


Amy Foundation articles

Click here for a list of the many articles available.

To Request a copy of any article, please send an email to this address:  Prof. Smith Event Coordinator


Unpublished Talks

  1. The Fatherhood of God for the conference Journey to the Father, Denver Colo., 2000
  2. The Gift of Life, commencement address at the Josephinum, May 2001
  3. Sending Apostles into the 21st Century, for the Diocese of Minneapolis/St. Paul 2001
  4. All Things Visible and Invisible, convocation address, UD Spring 94
  5. "Activity for its Own Sake" commencement for the Institute of Pastoral Studies, Minneapolis, May 26, 2002
  6. "Joining the Adult Team," commencement address, Siena School, Rochester, NY, June 24, 2002.

To Request a copy of any article, please send an email to this address:  Prof. Smith Event Coordinator