Abortion's Long History

Abortion didn’t start with Roe v. Wade, and neither did the Catholic Church’s opposition. "As to the relation of parents and children, Christianity exerted from the beginning a most salutary influence. It restrained the tyrannical power of the father. It taught the eternal value of children as heirs of the kingdom of heaven, and commenced the great work of education on a religious and moral basis. It resisted with all energy the exposition of children, who were then generally devoured by dogs and wild beasts, or, if found, trained up for slavery or doomed to a life of infamy." The Church has constantly called individuals and society to just and moral thought and action. Its voice against this great horror is seen in documents throught its history of which a few are listed below.”1

From the Didache - 150 A.D.

There are two ways, one of life and one of death; but a great difference between the two ways … flee from every evil thing, and from every likeness of it. Be not prone to anger, for anger leads the way to murder … be not a lustful one; for lust leads the way to fornication; nor of lofty eye; for out of all these adulteries are engendered. "You shall not commit murder, you shall not commit adultery, …you shall not murder a child by abortion nor kill that which is begotten." Watch for your life's sake. Let not your lamps be quenched, nor your loins unloosed; but be ready, for you know not the hour in which our Lord comes.2

Athenagoras of Athens
Letter to Marcus Aurelius in 177

Those women who use drugs to bring about an abortion commit murder and will have to give an account to God for their abortion.3

Tertullian - Prior to 225

"To the servant of God, forsooth, offspring is necessary! For of our own salvation we are secure enough, so that we have leisure for children! Burdens must be sought by us for ourselves which are avoided even by the majority of the Gentiles, who are compelled by laws, who are decimated by abortions; burdens which, finally, are to us most of all unsuitable, as being perilous to faith! For why did the LORD foretell a “woe to them that are with child, and them that give suck,” except because He testifies that in that day of disencumbrance the encumbrances of children will be an inconvenience? 4

St. Basil the Great (329-379)

St. Basil the Great

Mass of St. Basil the Great (detail)
by Pierre Hubert Subleyra1

First Canonical Letter

The hairsplitting difference between formed and unformed makes no difference to us. Whoever deliberately commits abortion is subject to the penalty for homicide. 5

St. Boniface - (died 754)

St. Boniface

St. Boniface
by Len Buckle2

“I. Listen, my brethren, and consider well what you have solemnly renounced in your baptism. You have renounced the devil and all his works, and all his pomp. But what are the works of the devil? They are pride, idolatry, envy, murder, calumny, lying, perjury, hatred, fornication, adultery, every kind of lewdness, theft, false witness, robbery, gluttony, drunkenness, Slander, fight, malice, philters, incantations, lots, belief in witches and were-wolves,abortion , disobedience to the Master, amulets. These and other such evil things are the works of the devil, all of which you have forsworn by your baptism, as the apostle says: Whosoever doeth such things deserves death, and shall not inherit the kingdom of heaven. But as we believe that, by the mercy of God, you will renounce all these things, with heart and hand, in order to become fit for grace, I admonish you, my dearest brethren, to remember what you have promised Almighty God.6

Pope Sixtus V Condemns Abortion - 1588

Pope Sixtus V

Pope Sixtus V
Artist: Unknown3

"Who will not condemn to a most grave punishment the impiety of him who has deprived children of life before they could naturally see light or could be protected by maternal body from ferocious cruelty? Who will not abhor the cruelty and unrestrained debauchery of impious men who have arrived into such a state of mind that they procure poisons in order to extinguish the conceived fetuses within the viscera, and pour them out, trying to provoke by a nefarious crime a violent and untimely death and killing of their progeny? Finally who will not condemn to a most grave punishment the crimes of those who with poisons, potions and evil actions sterilize women or impede that they conceive or give birth by pernicious medicines and drugs?" … "We are willing to exterminate in our times also this evil as much as a we can by the strength given to Us by the Lord." 7

At a Glance

"if we accept that a mother can kill even her own child, how can we tell other people not to kill one another" - Mother Theresa

Every human being, even the child in the womb, has the right to life directly from God and not from his parents, not from any society or human authority. - Pope Pius XII

Disregard for the sacred character of life in the womb weakens the very fabric of civilization … the dangers of which are not yet fully known to the general public." - Pope Paul VI

The hairsplitting difference between formed and unformed makes no difference to us. Whoever deliberately commits abortion is subject to the penalty for homicide. - St. Basil the Great

Pope Innocent XI - 1679

Pope Innocent XI condemned the writings and teachings of two theologians, Thomas Sanchez and Joannis Marcus, who believed that abortion was lawful if the fetus was not yet animated or ensouled and the purpose of the abortion was to prevent shame to the woman. This act showed decisively that the Church did not tolerate abortion, to prosecute those who spread error regarding child-killing. 8

Pope Pius XII
Condemns Abortion - 1951

Pope Sixtus V

Pope Pius XII3

Pope Pius XII,
Allocution to Midwives,
October 29, 1951

Every human being, even the child in the womb, has the right to life directly from God and not from his parents, not from any society or human authority. Therefore, there is no man, no society, no human authority, no science, no "indication" at all whether it be medical, eugenic, social, economic, or moral that may offer or give a valid judicial title for a direct deliberate disposal of an innocent human life, that is, a disposal that aims at its destruction, whether as an end in itself or as a means to achieve the end, perhaps in no way at all illicit. The direct destruction of so-called "useless lives," already born or still in the womb, practiced extensively a few years ago [by Nazi Germany], can in no wise be justified … The life of an innocent person is sacrosanct, and any direct attempt or aggression against it is a violation of one of the fundamental laws without which secure human society is impossible … [N]ever forget this: There rises above every human law and above every "indication" the faultless law of God. .9

Pope Paul VI - 1968

Pope Paul VI

Pope Paul VI4

Disregard for the sacred character of life in the womb weakens the very fabric of civilization; it prepares a mentality, and even a public attitude, that can lead to the acceptance of other practices that are against the fundamental rights of the individual. This mentality can, for example, completely undermine concern for those in want, manifesting itself in insensitivity to social needs; it can produce contempt for the elderly, to the point of advocating euthanasia; it can prepare the way for those forms of genetic engineering that go against life, the dangers of which are not yet fully known to the general public. 10

Pope John Paul I
(Cardinal Luciani), 1977

Barbarity and cruelty are the right names: The mothers conceive a child, then accuse it of being their unjust aggressor and suppress it. 11

Mother Teresa
National Prayer Breakfast
Washington, D.C, 1994

Blessed Theresa of Calcutta

Blessed Theresa of Calcutta5

But I feel that the greatest destroyer of peace today is abortion, because it is a war against the child, a direct killing of the innocent child, murder by the mother herself, and if we accept that a mother can kill even her own child, how can we tell other people not to kill one another? How do we persuade a woman not to have an abortion? As always, we must persuade her with love and we remind ourselves that love means to be willing to give until it hurts. Jesus gave even His life to love us. So the mother who is thinking of abortion, should be helped to love, that is, to give until it hurts her plans or her free time, to respect the life of her child. The father of that child, whoever he is, must also give until it hurts. By abortion, the mother does not learn to love, but kills even her own child to solve her problems. And, by abortion, the father is told that he does not have to take any responsibility for the child he has brought into the world. The father is likely to put other women into the same trouble. So abortion just leads to more abortion. Any country that accepts abortion is not teaching its people to love, but to use violence to get what they want. That is why the greatest destroyer of love and peace is abortion.12

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