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Abortion in Thomas Aquinas’ Religious View Essay

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Updated: Aug 21st, 2020


St. Thomas of Aquinas was an Italian catholic priest of the Dominican wing. He lived from January 1225 to March 1274. He was a widely read scholar who made great contributions in the fields of religion, mathematics, metaphysics and philosophy among many more. He descended from a family of noble people. He was a priest of Thomism and considered to be one of the first proponents of natural theology. This paper seeks to first state his views on abortion and moves ahead to analyse its impacts on the society. His exact stand on abortion and whether it is misinterpreted today will also be analysed. In the end, the paper will evaluate the debate on abortion on whether it should be supported or not. The position taken in this article is that abortion is unethical, non-religious, and immoral and should therefore be illegalized and condemned.

Aquinas’ views

Thomas Aquinas is one of the greatest theologians in the world to have ever come from the Catholic Church in particular. The doctrines of his denomination completely oppose abortion from all angles. Their history however, shows that the church tends to understand when the circumstances do not allow other alternatives. For instance, when a medical process demands that a cancerous womb must be removed from an expectant mother (Berk 67). This process must call for the direct termination of the life of the foetus. Otherwise, the life of the mother will be in danger. Traditionally, medical practitioners would sign the certificate although whoever carried out the operation and whoever was operated upon must repent.

St. Aquinas argued that God creates the rational human soul in the unborn baby forty days after conception in a male child and between eighty and ninety days if the child is female. Thomas captured this in his views on human ensoulment, abortion and the value of life (Farrell 53). This has been interpreted by some scholars to mean that St. Thomas of Aquinas supported abortion at the early stages of the life of pregnancy. The proponents of this argument believe that abortion before the formation as referred to by Aquinas could be tantamount to normal operation because there is no soul whose life is terminated. In any case, it is not yet formed. Thomas made this remarks after the teachings of Aristotle whom he read his work so much.

Aristotle argued that a child takes human life and thus becomes human when it takes the human form. He called this process formation. This is where a child makes a movement that can be felt or recognized. Thomas postulated that this happens between the sixth and eighteenth week after conception. Thomas seems to have made this statement after following Aristotle’s views on animation and a series of other theological, philosophical and canon statements that agreed on the time of formation. It is however surprising to note the clique that he used (Berk 83). Thomas’ views to support abortion do not mention that he averred that abortion itself is a violation of natural law and remains wrong doing irrespective of when animation occurs. He is quoted to have advised doctors to quit conducting abortion.

My Take

I hold the views that the sanctity of human life must be respected from the time of conception. Immediately conception takes place, what is formed has all rights to be left to develop to its fullest capacity as nature or God would decide. Abortion is aimed at the destruction of blastocyst, foetus, embryo or zygote and in the process kills the innocence any life that would be there (Farrell 112). The most dynamic activity in humanity is technology. Since St. Thomas Aquinas made his remarks, much has changed and today what was studied under philosophy has been transferred into the field of science studied under biology (Kail and Cavanaugh 19).

Other scholars that I support their views follow the example that all men are mortal and if X is a man, then he is mortal. The principle here becomes that what causes conception in itself is life that is comprised of both the male cells and female cells that fuse to result in conception thereby holding life. This leads to the conclusion that their product has life. The product of conception includes an embryo, zygote, blastocyst, and foetus (Newman and Newman 93). Therefore, irrespective of when animation occurs, everything inside the womb of a mother has life because it was begotten from life.

The development of the products of fusion to make movement can only take place if what is developing has life. Otherwise, nothing would develop since development needs to use energy. It is only what is alive that can consume. Anything to the contrary is unacceptable and must be condemned. The first part of the conclusion made by Thomas Aquinas was based on knowledge borrowed from common sense. It could be believed that his version was made on the grounds of philosophical principles. A lot has changed since then and modern scientific methods of research give a dissenting opinion that contradicts what Aquinas said. However, this does not call for castigation of the unborn. Technology during his time was low and most theories were set based on social science analysis. It could be more reasonable if it is concluded that he erred in the conclusion he made in his first section.

Thomas could also be absolved from accusations that he supported abortion. He stated in his second part that abortion is a violation of natural law. This means that he respects the sanctity of human life. This is one of the reasons I do not support abortion. I believe that arbortion is tantamount to the first degree murder in the corridors of justice. Natural law that is supported by Aquinas demands that the destiny of anything supported by nature God must be left in the hands of either nature or God Himself (Kail and Cavanaugh 73). Aquinas based on this when he said that it does not matter when the process of abortion takes place, it is wrong and should never be performed either before or after formation.


It is clear that Aquinas relied on Aristotle’s erroneous thought to make a mistake in his conclusion about when human life begins. Modern science explains in detail the roles of both the male sperm and the female ovum in the process of formation. This supports the argument from the medical perspective that life begins at conception and abortion is a process that forcefully terminates innocent life. The moral perspective dictates that abortion is traumatizing. It is very difficult to remove from the mind of whoever undergoes abortion to ever forget that he or she killed an innocent soul. Mothers record in their medulla that they carrying life from the first minute of conception occurs. This is a natural trend that even pregnant mothers are accorded special treatment anywhere since humanity knows that pregnancy is delicate innocent life. Therefore, abortion should be not only condemned but illegalized.

Works Cited

Berk, Laura. Child Development. Boston: Pearson, 2006. Print.

Farrell, Courtney. The Abortion Debate. Edina, Minn: ABDO Pub, 2008. Print.

Kail, Robert, and John, Cavanaugh. Human Development: A Life-Span View. Australia: Wadsworth Cengage Learning, 2010. Print.

Newman, Barbara, and Philip, Newman. Development through Life: A Psychosocial Approach. Australia: Wadsworth/Cengage Learning, 2009. Print.

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