Talk:Catholic Church and abortion

Active discussions

Sentence in the opener is still inaccurate/biased and should be changed.Edit

I propose to change the following sentence ("Many, and in some Western countries most, Catholics disagree with the official position of the Catholic Church, which opposes abortion and its legality; with views ranging from allowing exceptions in a generally anti-abortion position to acceptance of complete legality and morality of abortion.") for the below reasons.

1) The entire structure of the sentence is slanted against the Church. Why is it focusing on who disagrees? By comparison, we could simply write "A minority of Catholics hold the exact same position as the Church". We could also word it "Catholics hold a variety of positions on abortion", or "Catholics are divided in their attitudes toward abortion". There are many alternative, superior ways we could re-word this sentence to avoid slant.

2) None of the sources say the respondents "disagree" with the Church. What the sources do demonstrate is that a majority of Catholics in the Western countries surveyed hold anywhere from slightly to highly more permissive stances on abortion than the Church. However, this alone does not justify the current wording. It isn't indicated anywhere that all of these Catholics read the Church's position and actively disagreed with it.

I'm open to suggestions on changing the wording of the sentence, but the current wording should change. Edit5001 (talk) 20:47, 26 December 2019 (UTC)

(1) It is not "slanted against the Church" to say that most Catholics have more moderate views on abortion than the official one. Similarly, it would not be anti-Muslim to write that "most Muslims disagreed with the fatwa against Salman Rushdie"; and it would not be anti-American to write that "in the later stages of the Vietnam War most Americans disagreed with their government about continuing to pursue that war." Many would say that it's pro-Catholic to point out that divergent views can flourish among believers.
(2) I would not object to replacing the words "disagree with" with the words "hold views on abortion that differ from". NightHeron (talk) 22:31, 26 December 2019 (UTC)
If the lead is going to include Catholic laity attitudes toward abortion it shouldn't just emphasize how some holds views that differ from the Church. The polls in the body cover more than just that.
I think it's fair to reword the lead to say something such as; "Catholic laity hold attitudes on abortion that vary from country to country. Generally, Catholics hold stricter views on abortion than the general public in their respective countries. In Western countries, many also hold views that are more permissive than the Church's official position." Is this acceptable with you? Edit5001 (talk) 19:20, 27 December 2019 (UTC)
(1) The first sentence is correct and supported by sources. In my opinion it's stating the obvious and is unnecessary. Since the lead should not be longer than necessary, I'd prefer not adding that sentence.
(2) I don't believe that we have sources that support the second sentence. I would guess (but I've never seen statistics on this) that in some countries in Latin America and perhaps Africa, in which much of the population is divided between Catholicism and Evangelical Christianity, the Evangelicals on average tend toward more extreme positions than the Catholic laity.
(3) In the third sentence first of all the word permissive shows an anti-abortion bias. It's the word one uses about parents who allow their children to misbehave and is an inappropriate way to refer to the opposition to criminalizing abortion. Secondly, "many" should be "most", since only relatively small percentages are in full agreement with the official Church position (e.g., no exception for the life of the pregnant person). Thirdly, the wording of the third sentence implies that the difference between the laity's views and the Vatican's view is only observed in Western countries. Again I don't know of any polls in Vietnam or the Philippines, but I doubt that such polls would support the implication that views of Catholic laity in those countries agree with the official Church position on abortion.
Finally, the circumstance that the majority of Catholic laypeople polled expressed positions that differ from the official position of their Church is a notable fact. That a minority agree with the Church position is obvious and not notable. That there are many countries (but not necessarily all countries, as I said above) where Catholics on average hold positions that are closer than those of non-Catholics to the official viewpoint of their Church is also obvious and not notable.
As I said, I have no objection to replacing the words "disagree with" with the words "hold views on abortion that differ from" in view of the point you make that the word "disagree" can be interpreted to imply that all the people polled were aware of the Church's official position. You're correct that such an implication goes beyond what we have sources for. NightHeron (talk) 21:50, 27 December 2019 (UTC)
1) It's not a statement of the obvious at all. Some might assume that Catholics generally think the same about abortion regardless of what country they're in. That's not true, so the clarification is necessary.
2) Your assumptions go against the sources in the page. In the two examples we have on the page comparing Catholics to the general population (Northern Ireland and the US), in both cases they were more restrictive than their non-Catholic counterparts. Because of this, the sentence is warranted, though it could be clarified "Western" countries.
3) We could change "more permissive" to "less restrictive". In regards to "many vs most" - if "most" is used I think the lead needs to make it crystal clear that while "most" Catholics may not agree completely with the Church's teaching that abortion is wrong in even cases like the mother's life being at risk, most do agree with the Church's teaching that it's wrong in many other cases. They are nothing like people who look at abortion as nothing more than "just another medical procedure", for example. Finally, in regards to clarifying "Western", this is good since the body doesn't look at non-Western countries, and thus there isn't evidence to include them in the sentence. Assumptions have no place in the lead.
Lastly, I disagree with you that this phenomenon is notable enough for the lead but my compromise so far has been to modify the wording rather than simply pushing for deleting these sentences from the lead entirely. Edit5001 (talk) 22:28, 27 December 2019 (UTC)
The lead should not contain detailed elaboration. For example, if readers don't already assume that statistics regarding lay opinion on abortion vary from country to country, they'll find out soon enough from the polls described in the body of the article. Similarly, you point out that the only sources we have at present that directly compare Catholic vs non-Catholic opinion in a given country are just for a couple of Western countries. No need to attach UNDUE importance to an unsurprising statistic from a few countries that are not necessarily representative. The issue of divergence between lay opinion and official position is important and notable enough to be in the lead, but what's there now is sufficient, with further elaboration left for the main body of the article.
I made a minor edit to meet your objection to the term "disagree." NightHeron (talk) 23:19, 27 December 2019 (UTC)
This isn't detailed elaboration. It's warranted elaboration to summarize the full "Opinions of laity" section. I see no reason why what you're trying to include would be warranted but not what I'm saying. If anything, what I'm noting is even more apparent from the polls and your statement is even more [WP:Undue]. Edit5001 (talk) 19:48, 2 January 2020 (UTC)

Content dispute resolutionEdit

@Elizium23: Being one of the only other active recent editors to this page, can you please look at the recent edit dispute and give your input? Edit5001 (talk) 21:30, 2 January 2020 (UTC)

Edit5001, at this point there is no danger of me agreeing with you on this. You are not respecting consensus, you are arguing fruitlessly against several editors who have explained policies to you, and worse, you are edit-warring. I really did not relish inserting myself in such an edit war as this one. You are not going to win. I would advise you to choose a hill to lie on. Elizium23 (talk) 00:41, 3 January 2020 (UTC)
There is only a single editor objecting to my addition of the Malta poll or the changing of the final paragraph in the lead. That's not consensus. Edit5001 (talk) 00:47, 3 January 2020 (UTC)
No, there were two of us, Triacylglyceride and me. No one agreed with you. Keep in mind that an editor who's tried to argue with you in the past and who's not continuing to argue probably just has better ways to occupy time than to argue with someone who won't listen, won't read up on Wikipedia policies, and continues to edit-war. Also please keep in mind that the longer you continue in this pointless direction, the stronger the case is going to be when finally someone asks for strong sanctions such as topic-banning. NightHeron (talk) 01:15, 3 January 2020 (UTC)
Looking back, Elizium23 said I was on to something about changing this line several weeks ago. That makes things two to two. Seems you're the one not paying attention, not listening, and edit warring. Edit5001 (talk) 01:20, 3 January 2020 (UTC)
I was referring to the Malta poll. Concerning the final paragraph of the lead, perhaps you don't remember. I agreed to compromise and inserted an edit that I thought would be uncontroversial and seemed to address one of your key points, namely, that the word "disagree" implies knowledge of the official Church stance, which goes beyond what we know from the sources. No one seems to have any problem with replacing "disagree" by "differ from", which I did. However, you seem ill disposed to accepting compromise.
Please don't make false accusations of edit-warring against me. Like most editors, I assiduously adhere to Wikipedia policies. If I ever were to inadvertently violate WP:1RR, I would self-revert as soon as I was informed of my violation. That's what you're supposed to do. NightHeron (talk) 01:38, 3 January 2020 (UTC)
You only addressed part of one of three points I was making despite me already bending over backwards to compromise with you in keeping this entire absurdly biased and WP:UNDUE paragraph in the lead in the first place. Edit5001 (talk) 02:05, 3 January 2020 (UTC)

@Edit5001: I already informed you of Wikipedia's policy on canvassing, WP:CANVAS. You are violating that policy by pinging only an editor who is likely to agree with you and not informing other editors. That is not a permitted form of "dispute resolution". What dispute resolution really means on Wikipedia is explained in WP:DR. NightHeron (talk) 22:15, 2 January 2020 (UTC)

This is the only other active editor to make recent comments on this page. It has nothing to do with their likelihood of agreeing or not. Others who have spoken here have not been active in days, and in some cases weeks. Edit5001 (talk) 22:20, 2 January 2020 (UTC)
The user you pinged has a user-page disclosure as follows: "Greetings! I hereby disclose my affiliation with the following organizations: Roman Catholic Diocese of Phoenix, Knights of Columbus. Since I would not be able to contribute neutrally to these topic areas, I pledge to refrain from making direct edits to these and other related articles." That user clearly respects Wikipedia policy, and so presumably won't participate in your violation of WP:CANVAS by selectively inviting a like-minded user.
The article WP:CANVAS is really worth reading, since it recommends several acceptable ways of notifying other users. For example, you could put a neutrally worded notice on Talk:Abortion, which is watchlisted by many more editors than this page is.NightHeron (talk) 23:04, 2 January 2020 (UTC)

@Daask: @Nemo bis: @Enthusiast01: Notifying the three of you because you're recent editors of this page to ask for your opinions on two issues in dispute here. Firstly, do you agree or disagree with my changes to the wording in the last paragraph of the lead from what it previously was? If you're not sure, there's a discussion above where this topic was discussed between me and NightHeron in Sentence in the opener is still inaccurate/biased and should be changed. Secondly, do you think the Malta opinion poll section should be included or not included? Edit5001 (talk) 01:30, 3 January 2020 (UTC)

I definitely don't think it's an improvement; the sources focus primarily on the divergence between the official Catholic position and the view of individual Catholics, which is a major aspect of the topic and needs a paragraph specifically focusing on it in the lead. Also, just looking up, I see numerous people disagreeing with your change and only you supporting it. --Aquillion (talk) 01:38, 3 January 2020 (UTC)
There are two sources out of the six being cited that focus on that. The rest do not. It's therefor WP:UNDUE to place emphasis on this specific issue and not say anything else.
In regards to people disagreeing, there were two people who disagreed, and one who agreed. That makes things two to two. Edit5001 (talk) 01:42, 3 January 2020 (UTC)
I count myself, NightHeron, Triacylglyceride, and (in this section) Elizium23 all either endorsing some version of the original text or telling you to stop and back down. You are the only one supporting the change at this point. --Aquillion (talk) 01:54, 3 January 2020 (UTC)
Elizium23's statements in favor of changing the paragraph were never addressed. Likewise, you haven't responded to what I just told you; that only two out of the six citations "focus" on how how the laity hold views different from the Church's main position. The four other citations better fit the sentences I'm attempting to add. Edit5001 (talk) 02:05, 3 January 2020 (UTC)

Reverted added sectionEdit

The main source ( for the added section "Church Fathers on abortion" is an advocacy and not a scholarly source. The sequence of cherry-picked quotations are taken out of context. For example, several historians have written that the use of the term abortion in earlier times was different from current use, and corresponds to what we would call a late (or 2nd/3rd-trimester) abortion. That is, before the 19th century most Catholic authors did not regard termination of pregnancy before "quickening" or "ensoulment" as an abortion.[1][2][3] NightHeron (talk) 13:49, 24 February 2020 (UTC)

AfD for Church Fathers and abortionEdit

After I reverted the section "Church Fathers on abortion" (see above), the user Oct13 who created it then created a new article with essentially the same content (expanded). I proposed that article for deletion as a POVFORK. This is discussed at Wikipedia:Articles for deletion/Church Fathers and abortion. NightHeron (talk) 02:44, 25 February 2020 (UTC)

Gregory XIV's intentionsEdit

recognizing that the law was not producing the hoped-for effects, is fully supported by the cited book source, and so I have restored it to the article. Elizium23 (talk) 17:14, 20 March 2020 (UTC)

The fake source is Terpstra's claiming to know secret intentions. — Preceding unsigned comment added by 2A00:23C4:7C87:4F00:E920:49F8:FD6A:CC4E (talk) 17:32, 20 March 2020 (UTC)
And what evidence do you have of its being fake? Elizium23 (talk) 17:34, 20 March 2020 (UTC)
All claims by anyone to know secret intentions are obviously fake. — Preceding unsigned comment added by 2A00:23C4:7C87:4F00:E920:49F8:FD6A:CC4E (talk) 17:40, 20 March 2020 (UTC)
Not logical at all. History is about a historian's interpretation of events, not about chronicle-style data. Dimadick (talk) 21:34, 20 March 2020 (UTC)

Firstly, we depend on reliable secondary sources to interpret primary sources for us, not our own interpretations. Terpstra's scholarly book from JHU Press is an excellent source. Moreover, Terpstra is directly quoting Sedes apostolica and he is far from the only source to make this observation. –Roscelese (talkcontribs) 05:49, 21 March 2020 (UTC)

< redacted >.
Terpstra and banned Esoglou have many conflicts of interest. Esoglou was banned by Arbcom. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 09:41, 21 March 2020 (UTC)
See . — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 09:43, 21 March 2020 (UTC)

Changes in sections on doctrineEdit

I made some fairly minor changes in the recently edited sections on doctrine: (1) I changed the new title from Development of doctrine to Early writings because the word "development" suggests a coherent, organized sequence, which is not what happened. (2) I moved the short paragraph introducing the historical material back to where it was, because it fits there. (3) I made the new sentence about Pope Gregory clearer and more readable, without changing the meaning. NightHeron (talk) 16:36, 5 June 2020 (UTC)


  1. ^ Joan Cadden, "Western medicine and natural philosophy," in Vern L. Bullough and James A. Brundage, eds., Handbook of Medieval Sexuality, Garland, 1996, pp. 51–80.
  2. ^ Cyril C. Means, Jr., "A historian's view," in Robert E. Hall, ed., Abortion in a Changing World, vol. 1, Columbia University Press, 1970, pp. 16–24.
  3. ^ John M. Riddle, "Contraception and early abortion in the Middle Ages," in Vern L. Bullough and James A. Brundage, eds., Handbook of Medieval Sexuality, Garland, 1996, pp. 261–77, ISBN 978-0-8153-1287-1.
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