Letter to the Editor: An exemplar for the dignity of human life


To the Editor:

St. Thomas Aquinas was a Dominican friar and priest from Italy. He died on March 7, 1274.

Our president would be well advised to cease making references to St. Thomas Aquinas regarding abortion. Intelligent people of the 1200s had an errant understanding of how pregnancy occurred. It was believed then that the man’s ejaculate contained many tiny fully formed human beings, one or more of whom just needed to reach the right place in the woman to germinate and, after having survived gestation, to be born.

Think of the phrase to describe pregnancy, “A bun in the oven.” The woman’s womb was considered to provide the right place for the incubation of the already perfectly formed child, which the man delivered to the woman in intercourse.


We now know that both the man and the woman contribute to the generation of the child, as the male’s sperm fertilizes the female’s egg, which — in this act of conception — results in a new human life, whose DNA clearly demonstrates that the unborn child is a unique and different person from the child’s mother. One who is unborn is not just a blob of cells growing in the woman; the unborn is a separate person with a unique DNA, different from that of the mother, yet entirely dependent upon the mother during the months of gestation.

St. Thomas Aquinas, while a brilliant man, knew nothing of genes, chromosomes or DNA.

If the president wants to refer to a saint, he should consider the witness and teaching of a Nobel Prize winning, internationally acclaimed female saint, St. Theresa of Kolkata, whose life is an admirable witness to the dignity of human life from conception to natural death. She would be a much better exemplar for the president than St. Thomas Aquinas, who died 749 years ago.

Father William E. Reynolds

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