Early Church Fathers on The Sanctity of Human Life
This post contains quotes from the varied writing of Early Church Fathers concerning the sanctity of human life. I do not necessarily agree with everything a particular quote says, or some of the language used (whether the semantics were communicated in the original language or as a result of translation into English).
ca 120 A.D.
“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
The Epistle of Barnabas
ca 125 A.D.
“Thou shalt love thy neighbor more than thy own life. Thou shalt not murder a child by abortion.” 19:5
Clement of Alexandria
a 150-180 A.D.
“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, in 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
ca 165 A.D.
“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
ca 160-240 A.D.
“For us [Christians] we many 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 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 Anima 26:4
ca 170-236 A.D.
“Reputed believers began to resort to drugs for producing sterility and to grind 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
Basil the Great
ca 330-370 A.D.
“Moreover, those, too, who give drugs causing abortion are
delierate murderers themselves, as well as those receiving the poison which kills the fetus.” -Letter 188:2
The Apostolic Constitutions
ca 380 A.D.
“Thou shalt not slay thy child by causing abortion, nor kill that which is begotten. For everything that is shaped, and has received a soul from God, if slain, it shall be avenged, as being unjustly destroyed.” -Apostolic Constitutions 7:3
ca 340-407 A.D.
“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 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