The Catholic Church and Abortion: An Examination of Immediate Animation and Hylomorphism


The Catholic Church currently maintains that abortion is immoral at any stage of gestation because the foetus is a person from conception. This determination as to foetal personhood is founded upon two assumptions: 1. that any being with a soul is a person; and 2. that the foetus is endowed with a soul at the moment of conception. This paper does not seek to contest supposition ‘1', but rather proposes concerns with supposition ‘2'. In particular, the paper explores the basic Church dogma of hylomorphism, and raises questions as to whether this view of the process of ensoulment is consistent with a theory of immediate animation. The paper also traces the documented development of the Church's present position, and expresses doubt as to whether the Church's championing of immediate animation is as unequivocal as its condemnation of abortion would arguably require.

Author Information
Mark Rankin, Flinders University, Australia

Paper Information
Conference: ACERP2013
Stream: Ethics; Religion; Philosophy

This paper is part of the ACERP2013 Conference Proceedings (View)
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