Thomas Aquinas’s Metaphysical Discourses on When Human Life Begins

Nico P. Swartz, Obonye Jonas

Abstract


Many people believe that abortion takes a human life and is therefore tantamount to murder. If human life begins at conception, then abortion always involves the taking of human life. Thomas Aquinas, therefore, denies that human life begins at conception. Until the fetus has a human soul – it is not a human being. Thus, to destroy a fetus is not to destroy a human being. Aquinas believes the fetus will go out of existence regardless of whether it is aborted. He alludes that you and I could not have been aborted in the first trimester, because you and I did not exist then. Aquinas believes it is around mid-gestation that a fetus begins to engage in cognitive activity. It is the stadium where the brain has sufficiently develops to support the operations of intellect. If we understand a person to be an individual who possess a degree of self-consciousness, then, the fetus does not qualify to be called a person. This notion has been adopted by the South African Choice of Termination of Pregnancy Act (Act 92 of 1996), wherein someone’s right to privacy or autonomy can in some cases outweigh the value of a human life.

Full Text: PDF DOI: 10.5539/res.v4n5p157

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Review of European Studies   ISSN 1918-7173 (Print)   ISSN 1918-7181 (Online)

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