Monday, July 2, 2012

Early Church Fathers on Abortion

You might remember me posting the quote from the Didache (c. AD 90) "Do not murder a child by abortion or kill a new-born infant." Well here are a few more quotes from fellow Christians who wrote 1,800-1,900 years ago on the subject of abortion.

The Epistle of Barnabas 19:5, (AD 80-120), in declaring the way of life, says "Thou shalt love thy neighbor more than thine own soul. Thou shalt not murder a child by abortion, nor again shalt thou kill it when it is born. Thou shalt not withhold thy hand from thy son or daughter, but from their youth thou shalt teach them the fear of God."

Clement (AD 190) in The Paedagogus, Book 2, Chapter 10 "Our whole life can go on in observation of the laws of nature, if we gain dominion over our desires from the beginning and if we do not kill, by various means of a perverse art, the human offspring, born according to the designs of divine providence; for these women who, in order to hide their immorality, use abortive drugs which expel the matter completely dead, abort at the same time their human feelings." Clement also in describing the main themes of the Christian community says, "Abortion is killing human life that is under God’s care, design and providence."

Tertullian (AD 160-240) writes in The Apology, Chapter 9: "In our case, murder being once for all forbidden, we may not destroy even the fetus in the womb, while as yet the human being derives blood from other parts of the body for its sustenance. To hinder a birth is merely a speedier man-killing; nor does it matter whether you take away a life that is born, or destroy one that is coming to the birth. That is a man which is going to be one; you have the fruit already in the seed."

Hippolytus of Rome (AD 222) in The Refutation of All Heresies Book 9, Chapter 7 says, "Women, reputed believers, began to resort to drugs for producing sterility, and to gird themselves round, so to expel what was being conceived on account of their not wishing to have a child either by a slave or by any paltry fellow, for the sake of their family and excessive wealth. Behold, into how great impiety that lawless one has proceeded, by inculcating adultery and murder at the same time!"


Unknown said...

Wow, powerful quotes. Especially that last one by Hippolytus. There didn't seem to be a lot of confusion among the Church Fathers on this one.

Unknown said...

I used to think that in the 'old days' abortion was non-existant. It was really when we studied Rome again when I was about 12 that I learned that it wasn't--it was practiced for a very, very long time before the 20th century. These quotes are indeed enlightening to the prevelence of the practice. Thanks for posting them.

Doc Simonson said...

"for these women who, in order to hide their immorality, use abortive drugs which expel the matter completely dead, abort at the same time their human feelings." Emphasis mine. What a sad thing to see our understanding of right and wrong and the remorse we should feel for our sin eroding away.