Did the Catholic Church Always teach against abortion?

The answer is a resounding "Yes"! Below are quotes from the Early Church Fathers and church documents which prove that the Catholic church has prohibited abortion from the beginning!

The Didache ca 100 - 120 AD (this was the Apostolic "directions" to Christians which pre-dated the accepted Canon of the New Testament in 350 AD. This is the earliest Christian document in existance.)

"Thou shalt not murder a child by abortion.*"  2:2

"The Way of Death is filled with people who are ... murderers of children and abortionists of God's creatures."  5:1-2

* directions to the Apostolic Christians indicated that abortion was the murdering of a child!

The Epistle of Barnabas ca 125 AD

"Thou shalt love thy neighbor more than thy own life. Thou shalt not murder a child by abortion.*" 19:5

* abortion called murder in the second century, only a few decades after the Resurrection of Our Lord!

The Apocalypse of Peter ca 135

"I saw a gorge in which the discharge and excrement of the tortured ran down and became like a lake. There sat women, and the discharge came up to their throats; and opposite them sat many children, who were born prematurely, weeping. And from them went forth rays of fire and smote the women on the eyes. These were those who produced children outside of marriage and who procured abortions." -26

"Those who slew the unborn children will be tortured forever,* for God wills it to so."  -2:264

This early father felt abortion was such a grievious sin that women who aborted would be sentenced to hell.

Clement of Alexandria ca 150-180

"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, if order to hide their immorality, use abortive drugs which expel the child completely dead,* abort at the same time their own human feelings."  -Paedagogus 2

* the unborn fetus is here referred to as a child. Also Clement points out the psychological and moral repercussions of abortion. Notice that using drugs to abort is not a new concept!

St. Athenagoras ca 765

"We say that women who induce abortions are murderers, and will have to give account of it to God. For the same person, would not regard the child in the womb as a living being and therefore an object of God's care and then kill it.... But we are altogether consistent in our conduct. We obey reason and do not override it."   -Legatio 35

*words too strong for the tastes of many today,

Tertullian ca 160-240

"For us [Christians] 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 when you take away a life that is born, or destroy one that is coming to birth.* That is a man which is going to be one: you have the fruit already in the seed."  -Apology 9:6

"They [John and Jesus] were both alive while still in the womb. Elizabeth rejoiced as the infant leaped in her womb; Mary glorifies the Lord because Christ within inspired her. Each mother recognizes her child and is known by her child who is alive, being not merely souls but also spirits." 
-De A ninta 26:4

* Tertullian said that the fetus was human and that infanticide and abortion were one and the same, a 'man killing'.

Nlititicilis Felix ca 180-225

"There are women who swallow drugs to stifle in their own womb the beginnings of a man to be - committing infanticide* before they even give birth to the infant."  -Octavius

* human from conception, killing the unborn child is equated to infanticide i.e. killing the child after birth.

St. Hippolytus ca 170-236

"Reputed believes began to resort to drugs for producing Sterility and to gird themselves round, so as to expel what was conceived on account of their not wanting 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."  -Refutation of all Heresies 9:7

* abortion was called 'murder' in the second century - also noticed that 'what was conceived' suggests the regarding of the fetus as human life from conception! This was supported in the New Testament when at the Annunciation, Jesus was Jesus from conception!

Council of Eivira ca 305

"If a woman becomes pregnant by committing adultery, While her husband is absent, and after the act she destroys the child, it is proper to keep her from communion until death*, because she has doubled her crime."  -Canon 63

* A sin so serious that the person was ex-communicated for life

St. Basil the Great ca 330-379

"She who has deliberately destroyed a fetus has to pay the penalty of murder.... here it is not only the child to be born that is vindicated, but also the woman herself who made an attempt against her own life, because usually the women die in such attempts. Furthermore, added to this is the destruction of the child, another murder."  -Letter 188:2

"Moreover, those, too, who give drugs causing abortion are deliberate murderers themselves,* as well as those receiving the poison which kills the- fetus."  -Letter 188:2

* here, the risks of abortion are alluded to (and these risks have only slightly been reduced in legalized abortion which is far from 'safe') as well as comparing abortionists to murderers.

St. Ambrose of Milan ca 339-397

The wealthy, in order that their inheritance may not be divided among several, deny in the very womb their own progeny. By use of' parricidal mixtures they snuff out the fruit of their wombs * in the genital organs themselves. In this way life is taken away before it is born .... Who except man himself has taught us ways of repudiating children?"  -Hexameron

St Ambrose is the bishop who worked with St Augustine for 2 years - this ended up in the conversion of St Augustine to Christianity and sexual purity - before his conversion to Catholicism/Christianity, Augustine was involved in both heterosexual and homosexual acts. St Ambrose was definitely pro life!

St. Jerome ca 342-420

"They drink potions to ensure sterility and are guilty of murdering a human being not yet conceived.* Some, when they learn that they are with child through sin, practice abortion by the use of drugs. Frequently they die themselves and are brought before the rulers of the lower world guilty of three crimes: suicide, adultery against Christ, and murder of an unborn child."  -Letter 22:13

* St Jerome is a doctor of the Roman Catholic church. He is most known for his translation of the Greek Scriptures, the Septuageant, to a Bible which was used by the Catholic church for centuries, the Latin Vulgate. The Vulgate was used in the translation of the Duaey Rheims until the New American translation project in the 1940's and 1950's, also of the Septuageant. St Jerome clearly acknowledged the Sanctity of Life in this writing!

The Apostolic Constitutions ca 380

"Thou shalt not slay the child by causing abortion,* nor kill that which is begotten. For everything that is shaped, and his received a soul from God, if slain, it shall be avenged, as being unjustly destroyed." ,-7:3

* abortion is the killing of a child, says the Apostolic Constitution

St. John Chrysostom ca 340-407

"Why sow where the ground makes it its care to destroy the fruit? Where there are many efforts at abortion? Where there is murder before the birth? For you do not even let the harlot remain a mere harlot, but make her a murderer also. You see how drunkenness leads to whoredom, whoredom to adultery, adultery to murder; or rather something even worse than murder. For I have no real name to give it, since it does not destroy the thing born but prevents its being born. Why then do you abuse the gift of God and fight with His laws, and follow after what is a curse as if a blessing, and make the place of procreation a chamber for murder,* and arm the woman that was given for childbearing unto slaughter? -Homily 24 on Romans

St John said the womb was made dangerous for babies in the 4th century and pointed out that abortion is murder.

From the brief selection of quotation above, it is obvious to see that the Catholic church taught its members to respect human life in the womb from the very inception of the church in Apostolic times.

source: thanks to the Byzantines Net

return to Net Abbey or get more information at the Abortion Information Center