The Why Behind the What: What is the Catholic Teaching and Why Do We Believe It?


The intentional taking of a human life through abortion is never allowed under any circumstances.


Abortion is the intentional ending of an unborn baby’s life though physical or chemical means. Human life begins at conception, when the immortal soul is present in the unique and distinct individual. The Church, and in fact objective science, is very clear that at conception, a unique human being with a distinct genetic code already exists. “Human development begins after the union of male and female gametes or germ cells during a process known as fertilization (conception)” (Moore, Keith L. Essentials of Human Embryology. Toronto: B.C. Decker Inc., 1988, p.2). This new individual is distinct from its mother with a separate genetic code and even blood type; all that he/she now needs is nutrition and time.

The Church’s position is quite clear, “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.” (CCC, 2270) According to Saint John XXIII: “Human life is sacred – all men must recognize this fact. From its very inception it reveals the creating hand of God.” (Mater et Magistra, 1961)

While some may argue that this is just one opinion among many, and that the woman or the government can decide, the Catholic Church rejects this idea: “The inalienable rights of a person must be recognized and respected by civil society and the political authority. These human rights depend neither on single individuals or on parents…they belong to human nature and are inherent in the person by virtue of the creative act by which the person took his origin…every human being’s right to life and physical integrity from the moment of conception until death (must be respected).” (CCC, 2273 CDF, Donum Vitae III) As the smallest and most defenseless among us, the unborn require our protection. “Since it must be treated from conception as a person, the embryo must be defended in its integrity, cared for and healed, as far as possible, like any other human being.” (CCC, 274)

The circumstances of an individual’s conception (including rape and incest), while difficult and often requiring compassion, do not in any way lessen the humanity of the unborn child, who always deserves to be protected and preserved. Anyone who procures, facilitates, assists, cooperates or promotes abortion is complicit in this very grave act.