One thing I love about St. Blogs is how questions can get answered. A few days ago American Papist linked to an USA Today article that stated:
The popes have taught that abortion is always forbidden, and the church hierarchy has held to a doctrine that strongly opposes it. Even so, grounds for permitting abortion exist in the Catholic tradition, and many Catholic theological authorities permit abortion in a variety of situations. There is even a pro-choice Catholic saint, the 15th century archbishop of Florence, St. Antoninus. He approved of early abortions when needed to save the life of the mother, a huge category in his day. There is thus no one Catholic view."
Not surprisinglyimmoral theologian Daniel C. "Let Terri Schiavo starve" Maguire is a proponent of this view on St. Antoninus. Today with the help of her readers Amy Welborn posts what the real views of St. Antoninus were. It will be no surprise to my readers that USA Today and Mr. Maguire totally misrepresented the facts of the case and in fact the Saint was a rigorist on this issue.
One of the first to discuss this case was Antoninus of Florence. He declared that it was neither legitimate to kill the woman to save the child (by Caesarean section) nor to kill the infant to save the woman (by abortion). If the only way to save someone is by killing someone else, it is better to do nothing. However, he made one exception to this rule. Citing fellow Dominican John of Naples, he argued that before the soul was infused into the embryo (which, following Thomas Aquinas, he regarded as occurring at 40 days for males and 80 days for females) it was legitimate to abort the embryo to save the mother’s life. This was not homicide, strictly speaking. However, an act that destroyed the early embryo and so prevented a child from coming to be was very close to homicide, therefore it could only be justified to save the mother’s life. Furthermore, it it were doubtful whether or not the embryo possessed a human soul then it was not to be harmed. Antoninus only permitted abortion of the pre-ensouled embryo to save the mother’s life. Nevertheless, it was very significant in explicitly allowing an exception to the traditional prohibition. Antoninus had great authority and was followed by several theologians such as Sylvester Prierias (d. 1523) and Martin Aspilcueta (1493-1586), more commonly known as Doctor Navarrus. [pp. 178-179; emphasis added]
What I find ironic about the whole thing is that theologians in the Church changed their views on when conception occurred because of later scientific progress on the subject. Even funnier it is the modern day pro-choicer’s that are really rallying to the idea of ensoulement in that the fetus does not become human until a certain point. So who is really choosing philosophy over science in the first place. Once again was is common knowledge is a common mistake.