What is the doctrinal basis for the Catholic teaching that abortion is immoral? I understand that these will be based on Scripture, but will likely come from official Catholic documents.

So, I'm specifically looking for an answer from a Catholic doctrinal position rather than a purely exegetical answer (as provided to my previous question).

  • Why is this distinct from a purely biblical basis? Would you expect Catholics to preach a doctrine that was primarily based on the Bible? Are you just looking for a quote from the catechism?
    – Richard
    Nov 16 '11 at 21:24
  • @Richard This came from an answer on my other question about abortion that referenced Catholic teaching from the Humanae Vitae. I thought it would be better to target this teaching.
    – Narnian
    Nov 16 '11 at 21:30
  • I only really mentioned Humanae Vitae on that question because it says, contrary to how some people thought, that the Church's authority to make statements regarding natural law is based on Scripture. The answer to this question, is not Humanae Vitae itself, but the Natural Moral Law going back through St. Thomas Aquinas to St. Augustine of Hippo. When Humanae Vitae came out, people didn't seriously think the Church was going to give in on abortion, only contraception.
    – Peter Turner
    Nov 16 '11 at 21:35
  • 1
    @PeterTurner Are you going to submit your answer?
    – Narnian
    Nov 16 '11 at 21:59
  • I was rewriting the answer from the other question when I realized what I just said above. This is a much bigger answer, I'll try to tackle it, though not right now. Hope someone else answers too, this is a good question, especially if you have to try to reconcile what the pre-scientific theologians believed with what we now believe.
    – Peter Turner
    Nov 16 '11 at 22:04

The Catholic catechism has a section on abortion (2270-2275). It starts with this:

Human life must be respected and protected absolutely from the moment of conception. From the first moment of his existence, a human being must be recognized as having the rights of a person - among which is the inviolable right of every innocent being to life.

Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before    
you were born I consecrated you.


 My frame was not hidden from you, when I was being made in secret, 
 intricately wrought in the depths of the earth.7

ccc 2270

Essentially, the position is that at the moment of conception, the embryo is fully human, that it should be "treated from conception as a person" (CCC 2274). Because of that, destroying the embryo (or worse, the fetus) is murder. Therefore, the ban against abortion is based on the fifth commandment (do not murder).

  • 1
    I've never understood why that is about conception instead of God's knowledge, knowledge that knows of us "Before" conception. Nov 16 '11 at 23:47
  • 1
    @thursdaysgeek Uh, true. But before conception, you can "abort" the situation by simply changing your mind about having sex... That type of "abortion" isn't really... murder.
    – Richard
    Nov 17 '11 at 14:58

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.