Bibilical & Patristic Quotations
From the earliest of Christianity, there was a strong opposition to abortion. Very early on in Canon law, those who committed abortion were excommunicated for life – this was the same penalty as for murder. Later on, out of mercy, excommunication was limited to ten years.
In the second century, Athenagoras, a philosopher and a convert to Christianity addressed charges of cannibalism among Christians by saying: What reason would we have to commit murder when 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 fetus in the womb as a living thing and therefore an object of God’s care, and at the same time slay it, once it had come to life. Nor would he refuse to [leave infants out in the woods to die], on the ground that those who expose them are murderers of children, and at the same time do away with the child he has reared. But we are altogether consistent in our conduct. We obey reason and do not override it.
Tertullian, who died around 240, described how Christians thought about abortion in this way: “For us, 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