A Brief, Liberal, Catholic Defense of Abortion
- List Price: $22.95
- Binding: Hardcover
- Publisher: Univ of Illinois Pr
- Publish date: 03/01/2000
This tightly argued, historically grounded study exposes crucial contradictions between the early and modern church's views of abortion. Contending that the current, Catholic anti-abortion stance is justified neither by modern embryology nor by ancient church teachings, Daniel A. Dombrowski and Robert Deltete demonstrate that a "pro-choice" stance, now held by a significant minority of Catholics, is as fully justified by Catholic thought as an anti-abortion view.
Returning to the writings of two pillars of early Christian theology, St. Augustine and Thomas Aquinas, the authors show that abortion was originally condemned by the church on the grounds of perversity, since it nullified the only permissible reason for sexual relations: procreation. Only in more recent times has the view arisen of abortion as indefensible on the ontological grounds that human personhood begins at the moment of conception.
The authors demonstrate that the early church's theological view of fetal development -- in which the fetus is endowed with a human soul only when it achieves a physical human body -- is diametrically opposed to the current anti-abortion stance. In fact, the authors show, the insistence on immediate hominization that provides the foundation for the current "pro-life" view stems from two seventeenth-century scientific misconceptions -- preformationism and the homunculus -- that have since been thoroughly discredited.
By considering the history of Catholic thought in its relation to the history of science, Dombrowski and Deltete bring a new level of detail and focus to the abortion debate. Their thoughtful, measured argument provides a fresh perspective that will benefit participants onall sides of the controversy.