Table of Contents
The Roman Catholic Church holds unswervingly condemnation of abortion which entails the purposeful and direct killing of the unborn child. Hypothetically, the Christians from the Catholic Church believe that every life is sacred including the unborn and born. According to the Catholic Church Catechism, any kind of procured abortion was affirmed as moral evil since the first church century (Murray, 2021). Fundamentally, this teaching not only remains unchangeable but also has not changed at all. Accordingly, this paper seeks to describe the position and view of Catholics on abortion in addition to how it was changing through the years.
View Abortion as A Grave Sin and Violation of the Law of Love
The Catholic church teaches that the act of abortion is a serious sin. Accordingly, the early Christian authors unswervingly categorized abortion as a grave evil despite lacking uniform agreement that all abortion equated to homicide. Nevertheless, the Great St. Basil found the discrepancy between the unformed and the formed too delicate to be ethically applicable (DeMarco, 2019). As such, any woman became chargeable for murder in case she deliberately aborted the foetus. She was also excommunicated from receiving the sacrament. In addition to that, the catholic church teaches that abortion is dangerous to women not only physically but also spiritually. Accordingly, the church considered that both early and late abortion posed more danger to a woman than maintaining the pregnancy until birth. At all times, the church has always considered that abortion as a grave sin poses a danger to the immortal soul of the woman.
Another significant view of the Catholic Church involving abortion is that it violates the law of love. Accordingly, Thomas Aquinas in thirteen centuries largely contributed to this view particularly when he tried to answer the question regarding the acceptance of sectioning the expectant woman’s uterus as the only way of baptizing a dying fetus (Murray, 2021). The reason for doing that was argued that baptizing the fetus could save its eternal life which was viewed to be more important than the temporal life of its mother. Nevertheless, Thomas Aquinas did not agree with such view but instead quoted St Paul in Roman three verse eight which states that ‘we should not do evil that there may come good” (DeMarco, 2019). Therefore, he argued that it was impermissible to harm the mother in the name of baptizing the unborn fetus because the mother has the right to be protected but the fetus had the privilege of receiving the grace of sanctification from God. Pope Pius XII approved indirect abortion if it intended to save the life of a mother in case she was in danger because a pregnant mother has the right to treatment (DeMarco, 2019). In such cases, the death of the fetus is an unwanted but inevitable consequence. Examples of indirect abortions include ectopic pregnancy as well as uterine cancer and they are conducted to save the life of the mother.
Unwavering Catholic Church Teachings
The view and the teaching of the Catholic Church concerning induced and direct abortion as a grave sin have always been unwavering, emphatic, and clear (Calkin & Kaminska, 2020). However, there are a few distinctions concerning what the church teaches and what it does not. The first distinction entails the canonical penalty and the moral law. The moral law of the church has consistently categorized any direct abortion as a grave sin but its canonical penalties have been modified by existing scientific opinions and cultural attitudes hence differing throughout history. The other distinction is that cannon law never determines abortion morality but only determines how the church deals with its members who have committed abortion. Another crucial distinction differentiates the prevailing scientific opinion from the church teaching concerning abortion is the ensoulment time (Calkin & Kaminska, 2020). Accordingly, the morality of abortion does not depend on the animation of the soul. The reason behind this is that regardless of the time of animation any direct abortion is considered a grave sin through intent. Therefore, the animation time of the foetus was never and is never considered as the moral dividing line between impermissible and permissible abortion. Consequently, those three distinctions show that the Catholic church’s teachings concerning abortion immorality have not changed throughout history (Murray, 2021). However, that constant teaching has been accompanied by various extrinsic changing factors such as contemporary scientific speculations, ecclesiastical writers’ opinions, and canonical penalties (DeMarco, 2019).
Conclusively, the condemnation of abortion by the catholic church dates back to the first century and this has remained unchanged up to the present time. The basis of this condemnation is based on the fact that all life including unborn and born are sacred. Catholic church considers direct abortion as a grave sin and the suspect is charged with murder and excommunicated. However, the church allows indirect abortion in case the woman’s life is in danger in situations such as ectopic pregnancy and uterine cancer. Besides, abortion poses danger to women both physically and spiritually in addition to violating the law of love. Throughout history, the church’s teachings on the immorality of abortion remain constant although it has been accompanied by changing external factors such as contemporary scientific speculations, ecclesiastical writers’ opinions, and canonical penalties.
- Calkin, S., & Kaminska, M. E. (2020). Persistence and change in Morality Policy: the role of the Catholic Church in the Politics of Abortion in Ireland and Poland. Feminist Review, 124(1), 86-102.
- DeMarco, D. (2019). History of Catholic doctrine on abortion. Retrieved October 17, 2022, from http://ldysinger.stjohnsem.edu/ThM_599d_Beg/03_Hist-Theol/06_hist-cath-abor.htm
- Murray, J. (2021). Catholic Citizenship and the Toxic Dichotomy of the Abortion Debate in the United States: How the Responsible Catholic Citizen Should Approach Abortion.