Further Resources (Some Surprising) For Defending Life

Early Christian Opposition to Abortion

“You shall not kill the child by obtaining an abortion. Nor, again, shall you destroy him after he is born.” (Barnabas, 70-80 AD, 1.148)
“You shall not murder a child by abortion nor kill one who has been born.” (The Didache, 80-140 AD, 1.377)
“We say that those women who use drugs to bring on abortion commit murder. And we also say that we will have to give an account to God for the abortion.” (Athenagoras, 175 AD, 2.147)
“In our case, murder is once for all forbidden. Therefore, 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 way to kill a human. It does not matter whether you take away a life that has been born or destroy one that is not yet born.” (Tertullian, 197 AD, 3.26)
“Indeed, the Law of Moses punishes with appropriate penalties the person who causes abortion. For there already exists the beginning stages of a human being. And even at this stage, [the fetus] is already acknowledged with having the condition of life and death, since he is already susceptible to both.” (Tertullian, 210 AD, 3.218)
“Are you to dissolve the conception by aid of drugs? I believe it is no more lawful to hurt a child in process of birth, than to hurt one who is already born.” (Tertullian, 212 AD, 4.57)
“There are some women who, by drinking medical preparations, extinguish the source of the future man in their very bowels. So they commit murder before they bring forth.” (Mark Minucius Felix, 200AD, 4.192)
“The womb of his wife was hit by a blow of his heel. And, in the miscarriage that soon followed, the offspring was brought forth, the fruit of a father’s murder.” (Cyprian, 250AD, 5.326)
“The soul is not introduced into the body after birth, as some philosophers think. Rather, it is introduced immediately after conception, when the divine necessity has formed the offspring in the womb.” (Lactantius, 304-313AD, 7.297)
“You shall not slay your child by causing abortion, nor kill the baby that is born.” (Apostolic Constitutions, 390 AD, 7.466)

Early American Feminist Opposition to Abortion

“The murder of the innocents goes on. Shame and crime after crime darken the history of our whole land. Hence it was fitting that a true woman should protest with all the energy of her souls against this woeful crime.” (Paulina Wright Davis, The Revolution, January 20, 1870)
“The gross perversion and destruction of motherhood by the abortionist filled me with indignation, and awakened active antagonism. That the honorable term ‘female physician’ should be exclusively applied to those women who carried on this shocking trade seemed to me a horror. It was an utter degradation of what might and should become a noble position for women.” (Dr. Elizabeth Blackwell [1821-1910], diary quoted in Child of Destiny: The Life Story of the First Woman Doctor, New York: Harker and Brothers, 1849, p.88)
“We have not such an amount of inherent depravity, nor such a degree of reckless daring to our composition, nor such a deficiency in the motherly instinct and other elements that go to make up the true woman, as to lead us into the commission of this most deadly crime realizing it to be so.” (Dr. Anna Densmore French, The Revolution, March 19, 1868)
“Life must be present from the very moment of conception. If there was not life there could not be conception. At what other period of a human being’s existence, either pre-natal or post-natal, could the union of soul and body take place? Is it not plain that the violent or forcible deprivation of existence of this embryo, the removal of it from the citadel of life, is its premature death, and hence the act can be denominated by no more mild term that murder, and whoever performs the act, or is accessory to it, is guilty of the crime of all crimes?” (Dr. Alice Bunker Stockham, “Feticide” in Tokology: A Book for Every Woman, 2nd ed.,
Chicago: Sanitary Publishing Company, 1887, 245-51)
“In a populous quarter of a certain large Western city it is asserted, on medical authority, that not a single Anglo-American child has been born alive for the last three years. This is incredible; but, making all due allowances for exaggeration, it is plain enough that the murder of infants is a common thing among American women.” (Elizabeth Cady Stanton, “Infanticide and Prostitution”, in The Revolution, February 5, 1868)
“Guilty? Yes, no matter what the motive, love of ease, or a desire to save from suffering the unborn innocent, the woman is awfully guilty who commits the deed. It will burden her conscience in life, it will burden her soul in death; but oh! Thrice guilty is he who, for selfish gratification, heedless of her prayers, indifferent to her fate, drove her to the desperation which impelled her to the crime.” (Susan B. Anthony, “Marriage and Maternity”, The Revolution, July 8, 1869)
“Can any apology be offered for a woman who commits the crime of ante-natal murder, after she has voluntarily yielded to the relation that leads to maternity?” (Anonymous, The Unwelcome Child, or, the Crime of an Undesigned and Undesired Maternity, Boston: Bela Marsh, 1858, 101-104, from the Department of Special Collections, University of Chicago Library)
“[Abortion] is a crime in the fullest extent of the term, because it is murder, just as much as though the mother took her new-born babe and plunged a knife into its bosom, or cast it away from her, and refused to nourish it. Is there a woman not driven to the last depths of despair by wounded love and impending disgrace, who could do that to the little, soft, helpless thing, that is laid in her bosom so soon after its first cry has appealed to her heart? Yet the abortion-seeker regards with satisfaction the means to kill the little creature that has nestled so confidingly beneath her heart, as if it were the safest place in all the world for it.” (Eliza Bisbee Duffey, The Relations of the Sexes, New York: Wood and Holbrook, 1876, chapter thirteen)
“Scores of persons advertise their willingness to commit this form of murder, and with unblushing effrontery announce their names and residences in the daily papers. No one seems to be shocked by the fact…” (Sarah F. Norton, Woodhull and Claflin’s Weekly, November 19, 1870)
“We are aware that many women attempt to excuse themselves for procuring abortions, upon the ground that it is nor murder. But the fact of resort to so weak an argument only shows the more palpably that they fully realize the enormity of the crime. Is it not equally destroying the would-be future oak, to crush the sprout before it pushes its head above the sod, as it is to cut down the sapling, or cut down the tree? Is it not equally to destroy life, to crush it in its very germ, and to take it when the germ has evolved to any given point in its line of development?”
(Victoria Woodhull and Tennessee Claflin, “The Slaughter of the Innocents”, Woodhull and Claflin’s Weekly, June 20, 1874)

Foundational Medical Statements Against Abortion

“I will give no deadly medicine to anyone if asked, nor suggest any such counsel; furthermore, I will not give to a woman an instrument to produce abortion.” (Hippocratic Oath, 1st c. BC)

“I will maintain the utmost respect for human life from the time of conception.” (The Declaration of Geneva, September 1948, adopted by the General Assembly of the World Medical Organization)

Secular Statements Against Abortion

“Whoever would have guessed that the incorrigible deconstructionist Stanley Fish thinks abortion is wrong? And not only does he think it wrong, he also thinks the logic of the pro–choice side is both flawed and flimsy. And all it took was a little prodding from Princeton’s Robert George for him to come out. George challenged Fish during a debate sponsored by the American Political Science Association over the pro–choice claim to have science on its side. Fish immediately conceded, “Professor George is right. And he is right to correct me,” to the astonishment of all present. “I should have known better,” Fish said later. “Pro–life arguments are now based on scientific evidence and the pro–choice arguments are not. That is a cultural, historical fact.” He recognizes the irony of the intellectual role reversal in the abortion debate: “Nowadays, it is pro–lifers who make the scientific question of when the beginning of life occurs the key one in the abortion controversy, while pro–choicers want to transform the question into a ‘metaphysical’ or ‘religious’ one by distinguishing between mere biological life and ‘moral life.’ . . . Until recently pro–choicers might have cast themselves as defenders of rational science against the forces of ignorance and superstition, but when scientific inquiry started pushing back the moment when significant life (in some sense) begins, they shifted tactics and went elsewhere in search of rhetorical weaponry.” Although Fish openly opposes so–called abortion rights, he’s still hesitant to call himself pro–life. One step at a time.” (First Things, 1999)

We have no hard data on the question, but suspect that few of our readers also read Rolling Stone. For which reason we are indebted to John Farrell of Braintree, Mass. Who does. A recent issue featured rock star Dolores O’Riordan, a lady from Limerick who wears about twenty earrings and is lead singer of the Cranberries, a group that is, says Mr. Farrell, on its way to becoming No. 1 on some chart or the other. She appears to be a person of definite views, including this from the article: “And don’t count on O’Riordan as an ally in defending abortion: ‘I’m in no position to judge other women, you know? But, I mean, “Idiot-why didn’t you not get pregnant?” It’s not good for women to go through the procedure and have something living sucked out of your bodies. It belittles women-even though some women say, “Oh, I don’t mind to have one.” Every time a woman has an abortion, it just crushes her self-esteem, smaller and smaller and smaller.’” Rolling Stone yet. How au courant dare we be? (First Things, October 1995)


The Ante-Nicene Fathers, ed. Alexander Roberts and James Donaldson;1885-1887; repr. 10 vols. Peabody, Mass.: Hendrickson, 1994.

Rachel MacNair, Ed., Prolife Feminism. New York: Sulzburger & Graham Publishing, Ltd., 1995.

One thought on “Further Resources (Some Surprising) For Defending Life

  1. Pingback: Concerning Abortion (a repost in light of the overturn of Roe) | Walking Together Ministries

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