Abortion is condemned by the Catholic Church as an intrinsic evil. Unfortunately, many heterodox sects have given permission to perform the act. Examples include: United Church of Christ, the United Methodist Church, the Episcopal Church, the United Presbyterian Church, the Presbyterian Church of USA, Evangelical Lutheran Church of America, the Lutheran Women’s Caucus, and many more.
The LDS teaches: “The Church allows for possible exceptions for its members when: Pregnancy results from rape or incest, A competent physician determines that the life or health of the mother is in serious jeopardy, or A competent physician determines that the fetus has severe defects that will not allow the baby to survive beyond birth … Abortion is a most serious matter and should be considered only after the persons involved have consulted with their local church leaders and feel through personal prayer that their decision is correct.
According to the Mormon website MormonDNA “The LDS Church has no official statement on when life begins, although obviously it is sometime between conception (including the moment of) and birth.”
The former Southern Baptist Convention President W.A. Criswell himself stated: “I have always felt that it was only after a child was born and had a life separate from its mother that it became an individual person, and it has always, therefore, seemed to me that what is best for the mother and for the future should be allowed.”
When examining these statements, it is clear that they are heretical and gravely erroneous. Let’s consider the first point:
1. When does life begin?
The Catholic Church teaches that life begins at the moment of conception. ‘‘Human life must be respected and protected absolutely from the moment of conception…. Since the first century the Church has affirmed the moral evil of every procured abortion. This teaching has not changed and remains unchangeable’’ (Catechism of the Catholic Church, #2270-2271).
Therefore, there are no in betweens as the Mormons slightly suggest. Life also does not start at the moment of birth, which is an erroneous statement of W.A. Criswell. If this is the logic we are going to go by, then both camps must explain why St. John the Baptist leaped in the womb of Elizabeth in the presence of Mary and baby Jesus.
“And it came to pass, that when Elizabeth heard the salutation of Mary, the infant leaped in her womb. And Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Ghost”. (Luke 1:41). Surely, this wasn’t a dead clump of cells moving. This was a living being, and one of the greatest saints of all time.
They must also explain the following verses: Job 10:8, Psalms 22:9-10, Psalms 139:13-15, Isaiah 44:2.
Notice how both camps emphasize feelings in order to determine what is morally acceptable and what isn’t. This is dangerous since our feels are not always correct. “The heart is perverse above all things, and unsearchable, who can know it?” – Jeremias 17:9
The Church Fathers on Abortion:
St. Basil the Great wrote in his First Canonical Letter, Canon 2: “The woman who purposely destroys her unborn child is guilty of murder. With us there is no nice enquiry as to its being formed or unformed. In this case it is not only the being about to be born who is vindicated, but the woman in her attack upon herself; because in most cases women who make such attempts die. The destruction of the embryo is an additional crime, a second murder, at all events, if we regard it as done with intent” (374).
St. Jerome, Letter 22 to Eustochium (396), said: “Some, when they find themselves with child through their sin, use drugs to procure abortion, and when (as often happens) they die with their offspring, they enter the lower world, laden with the guilt not only of adultery against Christ, but also of suicide and child murder. Yet it is these who say: ‘Unto the pure all things are pure; my conscience is sufficient guide for me.’ A pure heart is what God looks for” (13).
The Council of Elvira in Spain (305) decreed two canons forbidding the sacraments to women who committed abortion: “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” (63). Canon 68 reads: “If a catechumen should conceive by an adulterer, and should procure the death of the child, she can be baptized only at the end of her life.”
Council of Ancyra (314): “Concerning women who commit fornication, and destroy that which they have conceived, or who are employed in making drugs for abortion, a former decree excluded them [from Communion] until the hour of death” (29)
Another early text is the Epistle of Barnabas: “You shall not slay the child by procuring abortion, nor shall you destroy it after it is born” (19). This also shows that the earliest Christians forbade abortion.
In the second century, St. Clement of Alexandria wrote in the Paedagogus (2.10.96): “Women who resort to some sort of deadly abortion drug kill not only the embryo, but along with it, all human kindness.” This passage supports our translation of the Didache by mentioning the use of drugs to induce abortion.
In 177, Athenagoras of Athens wrote in the Supplication for the Christians: “And when we say that those women who use drugs to bring on abortion commit murder, and will have to give an account to God for the abortion, on what principle should we commit murder?”