vatican

Abortion Wasn't Always So Debated

Abortion-as-murder is a relatively recent concept. Before 1869, the Catholic Church believed that because the soul entered the embryo at 40 days, it was not a person until then. It followed that abortion before the 40th day was not murder. Pope Innocent III in 1211 determined that the time a soul entered was anywhere from three to four months into a pregnancy. In Jewish Talmudic law, codified by 500 CE, the embryo isn’t a person until a head emerges from the womb. And until the 40th day, it is maya b'alma or “mere water.” Aristotle (circa 300s BCE) also assumed this 40-day wait till “ensoulment” for embryos. Almost offhand, he noted before that point, abortions were permissible.