Yesterday on National Public Radio’s “Talk of the Nation,” Northwestern University professor Garry Wills argued that because the Bible doesn’t specifically mention abortion, it’s not a religious issue. He further added, “Is the fetus a person, and when? It’s not by definition a person and the Catholic Church and others didn’t consider it to be that down through the ages.” Wills claimed that St. Thomas Aquinas did not consider an early-stage fetus to be infused with a soul.
News flash for Wills: Thomas Aquinas never approved of abortion, and in fact outright condemned it. Aquinas’ ideas on the soul were based on 13th century science’s understanding of early human life, which was lacking in today’s prenatal technology that leans heavily in favor of the belief that life begins at conception.
Wills also failed to mention that many of the Church’s earliest thinkers, treatises, and councils – the Didache, the Letter of Barnabas, Athenagoras, Tertullian, Hippolytus, Basil the Great, John Chrysostom, the Council of Ancyra, and others – all specifically condemned abortion.
It’s true that “abortion is wrong” never appears in the Bible. Neither does “embittered ex-seminarians shouldn’t distort Church teaching to serve their own agendas.” But both are implied.