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      The teaching of Christ, as promulgated by the Catholic Church, is that: “Human life must be respected and protected absolutely from the moment of conception. From the first moment of his existence, a human being must be recognized as having the rights of a person–among which is the inviolable right of every innocent being to life. Since the first century the Church has affirmed the moral evil of every procured abortion. This teaching has not changed and remains immutable. Direct abortion, that is to say, abortion willed either as an end or a means, is gravely contrary to the moral law.  Formal cooperation in an abortion constitutes a grave offense. The Church attaches the canonical penalty of excommunication to this crime against human life. A person who procures a completed abortion incurs excommunication latae sententiae, ‘by the very commission of the offense,’ and subject to the conditions of Canon Law” (Catechism of the Catholic Church, §2270-2272).

The inalienable right to life of every innocent human person is a constitutive element of every civil society and must be enshrined in its laws. Civilized peoples throughout the centuries have recognized the evils of direct abortion. Both Holy Scripture and secular literature are replete with prohibitions against abortion and emphasizing the right to life.

Ex. 21.22-25 - “When men strive together, and hurt a woman with child, so that there is a miscarriage, and yet no harm follows, the one who hurt her shall be fined, according as the woman's husband shall lay upon him; and he shall pay as the judges determine. If any harm follows, then you shall give life for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot, burn for burn, wound for wound, stripe for stripe.”

The Septuagint reads: “If two men fight and strike a woman with child, and the child that is not fully formed, comes forth, there shall be a fine according as the husband of the woman imposes, he shall set it with fair measure. But if it was fully formed he will impose life for life, eye for eye, etc”.

Jer. 1:5 – “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you.”

Ps. 139:15 – “My frame was not hidden from thee, when I was being made in secret, intricately wrought in the depths of the earth.”

Flavius Josephus [Probably late first century AD] “The law [Jewish law] orders us to bring up all our children, and forbids women to cause abortion of that which is begotten; and if any woman seems to have done so, she will be a murderer of her own child, by destroying a living creature.” (Against Apion 2:202).

Sibylline Oracles [Second century] “ many as aborted what they carried in the womb, as many as cast forth their offspring unlawfully [will be punished after the resurrection]” (2.281-82)      

Didache (The Teaching of the Apostles) [AD 70] “you shall not kill a child by abortion nor kill it after it is born” (2, 2)

St. Barnabas [AD 132-138] “the murderers of children, aborting the work of God” (Epistle, Those on the “way of darkness” 20.2).

Tertullian [AD 197] “For us, since murder has been forbidden, it is also not permitted to dissolve what is conceived in the womb while the blood is being formed into a human being. It is an anticipation of murder to keep one from being born; nor does it make a difference whether one takes the life of one already born, or disturbs one in the process of being born: even the one who is going to be a human being is one” (Apologeticum 9:8).

St. Cyprian of Carthage [AD 251]: “He [the schismatic Novatian] struck the womb of his wife with his heel and hurried an abortion, thereby causing parricide” (Epistle 52, to Cornelius).

St. Basil the Great [AD 375]: “He who destroys the fetus deliberately is guilty of murder” (Epistle 138).

St. Basil the Great: "A woman who deliberately destroys a foetus is answerable for murder. And any fine distinction as to its being completely formed or unformed is not admissible among us" (Letters, 188)

St. Jerome [AD 380] “Others drink for sterility and commit murder on the human not yet sown. Some when they sense that they have conceived by sin, consider the poisons for abortion, and frequently die themselves along with it, and go to hell guilty of three crimes: murdering themselves, committing adultery against Christ, and murder against their unborn child” (Epistle 22.13, speaking of virgins).

St. Ambrose [AD 386] “The rich women, to avoid dividing the inheritance among, many kill their own fetus in the womb and with murderous juices extinguish in the genital chamber their children” (On the Hexaemeron 5:18).

St. John Chrysostom [AD 391] “To destroy the fetus is something worse than murder.”
The one who does this “does no to take away life that has already been born, but prevents it from being born” (Homilies on Romans).

St. Augustine [AD 419] “At times their lustful cruelty or cruel lust goes so far as to obtain poisons to cause sterility; and if this does not work, to somehow extinguish and destroy the fetus conceived within the womb, wishing the offspring to be killed before living, or if it was living in the womb, to be killed before being born” (De nuptiis et concupiscentia 1:15).

St. Pope Stephen V [Sept 14, 887] “If he who destroys what is conceived in the womb by abortion is a murderer, how much more is he unable to excuse himself of murder who kills a child even one day old” (Epistle to Archbishop of Mainz, SA 670).

Pseudo-Phocyclides [middle of sixth century BC] “Do not let a woman destroy the unborn babe in her belly, nor after its birth throw it before the dogs and the vultures as a prey” (lines 184-185). Phocylides was an Ionic poet in Miletus.

Pope Pius XI, Casti Connubii, Dec. 31, 1930: "However we may pity the mother whose health and even life is imperiled by the performance of her natural duty, there yet remains no sufficient reason for condoning the direct murder of the innocent."         

Vatican II, Church in Modern World, §51: “Therefore life starting at conception is to be guarded with the greatest care, and abortion and infanticide are abominable crimes.”

“A nation that kills its own children is a nation without hope.” – Pope John Paul II

© 2004 – Victor R. Claveau

Part or all of this article may be reproduced without obtaining permission as long as the author is cited.


"If a man live according to himself, that is according to man,

not according to God, assuredly he lives according to a lie...

For man not to live as he was created is to live a lie."

-St. Augustine: The City of God, 14, 4, I.





Copyright © 2004 Victor Claveau. All Rights Reserved