Date of Award

Spring 5-2016

Degree Type

Honors College Thesis


Political Science, International Development, and International Affairs

First Advisor

Troy Gibson

Advisor Department

Political Science, International Development, and International Affairs


Due to scarce material on the subject in the Bible and supposed discord among Early Christian Church Fathers, the debate on abortion is one that is often hotly contested in the United States. From the religious political aspect there is much debate over whether the Early Christian Church had a single mindset towards the notion on abortion or was deeply divided on the subject as we are today. A popular narrative, even among many in academia, is that the Church was not unified on the topic. Some even go so far as to ascribe to a pro-Choice stance on abortion because they believe the Early Church and Early Church Fathers were not in agreement. Drawing inspiration from a political and religious statement made by then Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi this study analyzes the Church Fathers Tertullian, Irenaeus, and Augustine and subsequently their viewpoints on the topics of abortion, personhood, and ensoulment. Evidence was found to support the existence of a common doctrine on the topic of abortion—the life and soul of a human being begins at the moment of conception. This conclusion produces political implications for the abortion debate and also for political ethics as a whole in that it seems the Christian tradition has played a consistent role in sanctifying the sacredness of life and has greatly influenced our Western traditions.