Early Church Fathers and Abortion



One of the arguments in Roe v Wade court was: “It perhaps is not generally appreciated that the restrictive criminal abortion laws ...are not of ancient or even of common law origin."


This is misleading. Consider the following teachings by early Church Fathers.

The first passage comes from the Didache (Greek for “teaching”), which is usually dated as early as the end of the first century: “…you shall not murder a child by abortion nor kill that which is begotten” (chapter 2). This statement is as clear as it gets.


The second passage is from St. Barnabas from the early second century: “You shall love your neighbour more than your own soul. You shall not slay the child by procuring abortion; nor, again, shall you destroy it after it is born” (Chapter 19).


St. Basil the Great (c.330-379): “Women also who administer drugs to cause abortion, as well as those who take poisons to destroy unborn children, are murderesses” (Letter 188, to Amphilochius concerning the canons, section 8). Notice here how St. Basil is not making any distinctions about what stage in the pregnancy is okay to administer drugs to cause abortion.


Nowhere in these quotes is there a distinction being made between any "stages" of life. For the Fathers, abortion is unequivocal taking of life.




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