One of the most common misreading of Aristotle is to hold that he believed that abortions should be limited only to fetuses before the onset of “life”. They would commonly quote this portion from his Politics VII:
…an abortion must be induced before the onset of sensation and life. For what is holy will be distinguished from what is not by means of sensation and life.
From here it is frequently speculated that, had Aristotle had better science and understanding of when sensation and life “begins”, he would adjust his limits further back, even to the point of abolishing it altogether.
However in full context that is a complete misreading. Here’s the fuller passage:
As for the exposure and nurture of infants, let there be a law against nourishing those that are deformed, but if exposing offspring because the number of children one has is prohibited by the customary rule, then a numerical limit must be set upon procreation. But if children are conceived by some of those who have intercourse in violation of this, an abortion must be induced before the onset of sensation and life. For what is holy will be distinguished from what is not by means of sensation and life.
Aristotle doesn’t merely endorse or permit outright *infanticide* of those who are born, he even *mandates* it in the case of deformed infants. His “prohibitions” on abortions do not stem from a moral principle, they are merely acknowledgement of societies with “customary rules” against abortion, and how they can *still* achieve his objectives of population control (“IF exposing offspring *because the number of children one has* is prohibited by the customary rule, then a numerical limit must be set upon procreation”).
As such Aristotle’s *default* position is outright mandatory extermination of deformed children and systematic child exposure as means of population control. He posits the limits on abortion, not because it logically follows from his ethical/moral system, but rather, it is simply an acknowledgement of those societies who have religious or customary scruples against abortions, and how they can still engage in population control by aborting before what they consider the “holy”.
So even if one could persuade Aristotle that “life begins” at conception as a matter of scientific reasoning or whatever, Aristotle will just shrug and say, “Okay, so what? I believe in outright child exposure anyway, what difference does it make that life begins at this point? I believe that all infant lives are disposal anyway.”
The fault as they say, is not in his stars, not to have been born before cell biology, microscopes, or DNA. The fault is in himself, in his own ethics, which leads him to such a horrifically morally deficient conclusion. And it is also not for having been born in the wrong age before Christendom. Other thinkers, without the benefit of special revelation, have condemned abortion at all stages, especially the very societies with customary rules against abortion he discusses and which he tried to find ways around! The fault is firmly in himself, in his system, and in his philosophy, there’s no getting around this fact. They are fundamentally flawed at their core.