Roman Catholic Church Teaching and Abortion: A Historical View from the Early Church to Modern Day


The Catholic Church is known today to be staunchly opposed to any practice that violates the dignity of human life, including abortion. While the Catechism refers to this teaching as constant and unchanging since the first century of the church, many have questioned whether the Church has always fully opposed abortion, especially in the early stages of pregnancy due to conversations surrounding theories of ensoulment and animation. In this thesis, I will argue that the Catholic Church has always embraced a respect for unborn human life from conception by opposing direct abortion. To do so, I trace the development of the Church’s current canon law and magisterial teaching pertaining to direct abortion from the early Church to the 21st century by examining the writings of prominent theologians, papal documents, and previous collections of canon law.

Abortion, Catholic Church