Speaker Pelosi is deep in it now.
I am still looking for a link, but Amy reports that Brendan Daly, Nancy Pelosi’s spokesman issued a statement about her remarks on Meet The Press:
“The Speaker is the mother of five children and seven grandchildren and fully appreciates the sanctity of family. She was raised in a devout Catholic family who often disagreed with her pro-choice views.
“After she was elected to Congress, and the choice issue became more public as she would have to vote on it, she studied the matter more closely. Her views on when life begins were informed by the views of Saint Augustine, who said: ‘…the law does not provide that the act [abortion] pertains to homicide, for there cannot yet be said to be a live soul in a body that lacks sensation…’ (Saint Augustine, On Exodus 21.22)
“While Catholic teaching is clear that life begins at conception, many Catholics do not ascribe to that view. The Speaker agrees with the Church that we should reduce the number of abortions. She believes that can be done by making family planning more available, as well as by increasing the number of comprehensive age-appropriate sex education and caring adoption programs.
“The Speaker has a long, proud record of working with the Catholic Church on many issues, including alleviating poverty and promoting social justice and peace.”
She still does not get this, does she.
The teachings of St. Augustine, as esteemed and important as they are for the formulation of the Church’s teachings on many issues, are not equivalent in authority to the Church’s Magisterium.
Let’s put this more simply for Speaker Pelosi and her office:
Madame Speaker, you can’t reduce the Church’s teaching to a 1500 year old sound bite which you don’t understand.
What was Augustine’s understanding of abortion?
Keep in mind that Augustine was working with the scientific knowledge of his day.
I think we can admit that we have progress since the 5th century.
A quick reference is found in the entry by John C. Bauerschmidt, "Abortion", in Augustine Through The Ages: An Encyclopedia, edited by Fr. Alan Fitzgerald, OSA, p. 1.
Abortion Augustine, in common with most other ecclesiastical writers of his period, vigorously condemned the practice of induced abortion. Procreation was one of the goods of marriage; abortion figured as a means, along with drugs which cause sterility, of frustrating this good. It lay along a continuum which included infanticide as an instance of "lustful cruelty" or "cruel lust" (nupt. et conc. 1.15.17). Augustine called the use of means to avoid the birth of a child an "evil work": a reference to either abortion or contraception or both (b. conjug. 5.5).
Augustine accepted the distinction between "formed" and "unformed" fetuses found in the Septuagint version of Exodus 21:22-23. While the Hebrew text provided for compensation in the case of a man striking a woman so as to cause a miscarriage, and for the penalty to be exacted if further harm were done, the Septuagint translated the word "harm" as "form," introducing a distinction between a "formed" and an "unformed" fetus. The mistranslation was rooted in an Aristotelian distinction between the fetus before and after its supposed "vivification" (at forty days for males, ninety days for females). According to the Septuagint, the miscarriage of an unvivified fetus were vivified, the punishment wa a capital one.
Augustine disapproved of the abortion of both the vivified and unvivified fetus, but distinguished between the two. The unvivified fetus died before it lived, while the vivified fetus died before it was born (nupt. et con. 1.15.17). In referring back to Exodus 21:22-23, he observed that the abortion of an unformed fetus was not considered murder, since it could not be said whether the soul was yet present (qu. 2.80).
The question of the resurrection of the fetus also exercised Augustine, and sheds some light on his views on abortion. Here again he referred to the distinction between the formed and unformed fetus. Though he acknowledged that it was possible that the unformed fetus might perish like a seed, it was also possible that, in the resurrection, God would supply all that was lacking in the unformed fetus, just as he would renew all that was defective in an adult. This notion, Augustine remarked, few would dare to deny, though few would venture to affirm it (ench. 33.85). At another point Augustine would neither affirm nor deny whether the aborted fetus would rise again, though if it should be excluded from the number of the dead, he did not see how it could be excluded from the resurrection (civ. Dei 22.13).
Take note that Speaker Pelosi rests her position on Augustine.
But Augustine also thought that males were vivified at 30 days and females at 90 days.
Does Speaker Pelosi like that position too?
Or is she content simply to cherry-pick ancient Patristic sound-bites she does not understand?