Was the Church ok with abortion in the past?

I recently saw a book, called ‘Broken Words: The Abuse of Science and Faith in American Politics’, in which it says that many great Catholics in history, like most Church Fathers, St. Augustine, St. Thomas Aquinas and St. Alphonsus Liguori all said human life does not begin at conception and so they were fine with abortion up to a certain point. His citations are vague, so I don’t agree with his claims, but it’s also troublesome and hard to believe. I’d really like some clarification. God bless.


This is only half true. Aquinas did say an unborn baby receives a soul 40 or 80 days after conception, depending on gender. But he also said abortion is a violation of natural law and is always wrong, no matter when a soul may be infused into the developing child’s body.

For more, see: www2.franciscan.edu/plee/aquinas_on_human_ensoulment.htm

Also: cultureoflife.org/2008/09/16/abortion-and-ensoulment-augustine-and-aquinas-vs-pelosi-and-biden-part-i/

Fr. Vincent Serpa, O.P.

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