The Roman Catholic Church's Official Teaching on Abortion

Excerpted from the Catechism of the Catholic Church.

For context and footnotes, see the

Catechism online.

2270 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.



2271 Since the first century the Church has affirmed the moral evil of every procured abortion. This teaching has not changed and remains unchangeable. Direct abortion, that is to say, abortion willed either as an end or a means, is gravely contrary to the moral law...Life must be protected with the utmost care from the moment of conception: abortion and infanticide are abominable crimes.

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2272 Formal cooperation in an abortion constitutes a grave offense. The Church attaches the canonical penalty of excommunication to this crime against human life. "A person who procures a completed abortion incurs excommunication latae sententiae,"[76] "by the very commission of the offense,"[77] and subject to the conditions provided by Canon Law.[78]

The Church does not thereby intend to restrict the scope of mercy. Rather, she makes clear the gravity of the crime committed, the irreparable harm done to the innocent who is put to death, as well as to the parents and the whole of society.

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