Seeking Divine Mercy
The Catholic Church from the Apostles through the Apostolic Fathers through today consistently taught the severity of abortion. Fortunately, abortion, like all sins, is forgivable; and forgiveness is as close as the nearest confessional. But with reconciliation of sin the intent to amend one’s life must be present. The following excerpts from Scripture and the writings of the Apostolic and Early Church Fathers provide proof of the consistency in the Church’s position of abortion since Christ established His ministry. Make no mistake, accept no deception stating otherwise.
· “…For your own lifeblood, too, I will demand an accounting: from every animal I will demand it, and from man in regard to his fellow man I will demand an accounting for human life.” (Genesis CH 9: 5)
· "Did not he who made me in the womb make him? Did not the same one fashion us before our birth?" (Job 31:15).
· "Truly you have formed my inmost being; you knit me in my mother’s womb." (Psalm 139:13)
"The second commandment of the teaching: You shall not murder. You shall not commit adultery. You shall not seduce boys. You shall not commit fornication. You shall not steal. You shall not practice magic. You shall not use potions. You shall not procure [an] abortion, nor destroy a newborn child" (Didache 2:1–2 [A.D. 70]).
The Letter of Barnabas
"The way of light, then, is as follows. If anyone
desires to travel to the appointed place, he must be zealous in his works. The
knowledge, therefore, which is given to us for the purpose of walking in this
way, is the following. . . . Thou shalt not slay the
child by procuring abortion; nor, again, shalt thou
destroy it after it is born" (Letter of Barnabas 19 [A.D. 74]).
The Apocalypse of Peter
"And near that place I saw another strait place . . .
and there sat women. . . . And over against them many children who were born to
them out of due time sat crying. And there came forth from them rays of fire
and smote the women in the eyes. And these were the accursed who conceived and
caused abortion" (The Apocalypse of Peter 25 [A.D. 137]).
"What man of sound mind, therefore, will affirm, while
such is our character, that we are murderers?
. . . [W]hen 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? For it does not belong to the same person to regard the very fetus in the womb as a created being, and therefore an object of God’s care, and when it has passed into life, to kill it; and not to expose an infant, because those who expose them are chargeable with child-murder, and on the other hand, when it has been reared to destroy it" (A Plea for the Christians 35 [A.D. 177]).
"In our case, a murder being once for all forbidden, we
may not destroy even the fetus in the womb, while as yet the human being
derives blood from the other parts of the body for its sustenance. To hinder a
birth is merely a speedier man-killing; nor does it
matter whether 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 its seed" (Apology 9:8 [A.D. 197]).
"Among surgeons’ tools there is a certain instrument, which is formed with a nicely-adjusted flexible frame for opening the uterus first of all and keeping it open; it is further furnished with an annular blade, by means of which the limbs [of the child] within the womb are dissected with anxious but unfaltering care; its last appendage being a blunted or covered hook, wherewith the entire fetus is extracted by a violent delivery.
"There is also [another instrument in the shape of] a copper needle or spike, by which the actual death is managed in this furtive robbery of life: They give it, from its infanticide function, the name of embruosphaktes, [meaning] "the slayer of the infant," which of course was alive. . . .
"[The doctors who performed abortions] all knew well enough that a living being had been conceived, and [they] pitied this most luckless infant state, which had first to be put to death, to escape being tortured alive" (The Soul 25 [A.D. 210]).
"Now we allow that life begins with conception because we contend that the soul also begins from conception; life taking its commencement at the same moment and place that the soul does" (ibid., 27).
"The law of Moses, indeed, punishes with due penalties the man who shall cause abortion [Ex. 21:22–24]" (ibid., 37).
"There are some [pagan] women who, by drinking medical
preparations, extinguish the source of the future man in their very bowels and
thus commit a parricide before they bring forth. And these things assuredly
come down from the teaching of your [false] gods. . . . To us [Christians] it
is not lawful either to see or hear of homicide" (Octavius
30 [A.D. 226]).
"Women who were reputed to be believers began to take
drugs to render themselves sterile, and to bind themselves tightly so as to
expel what was being conceived, since they would not, on account of relatives
and excess wealth, want to have a child by a slave or by any insignificant
person. See, then, into what great impiety that lawless one has proceeded, by
teaching adultery and murder at the same time!" (Refutation of All
Heresies [A.D. 228]).
"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 until the hour of
death, and to this some have assented. Nevertheless, being desirous to use
somewhat greater lenity, we have ordained that they fulfill ten years [of
penance], according to the prescribed degrees" (canon 21 [A.D. 314]).
Basil the Great
"Let her that procures abortion undergo ten years’
penance, whether the embryo were perfectly formed, or not" (First
Canonical Letter, canon 2 [A.D. 374]).
"He that kills another with a sword, or hurls an axe at his own wife and kills her, is guilty of willful murder; not he who throws a stone at a dog, and unintentionally kills a man, or who corrects one with a rod, or scourge, in order to reform him, or who kills a man in his own defense, when he only designed to hurt him. But the man, or woman, is a murderer that gives a philtrum, if the man that takes it dies upon it; so are they who take medicines to procure abortion; and so are they who kill on the highway, and rapparees" (ibid., canon 8).
"Wherefore I beseech you, flee fornication. . . . 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 the birth? For even the
harlot you do not let continue a mere harlot, but make her a murderess also.
You see how drunkenness leads to prostitution, prostitution to adultery,
adultery to murder; or rather to a something even worse than murder. For I have
no name to give it, since it does not take off the thing born, but prevents its
being born. Why then do thou abuse the gift of God, and fight with his laws,
and follow after what is a curse as if a blessing, and make the chamber of
procreation a chamber for murder, and arm the woman that was given for
childbearing unto slaughter? For with a view to drawing more money by being
agreeable and an object of longing to her lovers, even this she is not backward
to do, so heaping upon thy head a great pile of fire. For even if the daring
deed be hers, yet the causing of it is thine" (Homilies on Romans 24
"I cannot bring myself to speak of the many virgins who
daily fall and are lost to the bosom of the Church, their mother. . . . Some go
so far as to take potions, that they may insure barrenness, and thus murder
human beings almost before their conception. 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" (Letters 22:13 [A.D. 396]).
The Apostolic Constitutions
"Thou shalt not use magic. Thou shalt not use witchcraft; for he says, ‘You shall not suffer a witch to live’ [Ex. 22:18]. Thou shall not slay thy child by causing abortion, nor kill that which is begotten. . . . [I]f it be slain, [it] shall be avenged, as being unjustly destroyed" (Apostolic Constitutions 7:3 [A.D. 400]).
“As early as the fourth century of the Christian era, St. Gregory of Nyssa had advocated the view which modern science has confirmed almost to a certainty, namely, that the same life principle quickens the organism from the first moment of its individual existence until its death (Eschbach, Disp. Phys., Disp., iii). Now it is at the very time of conception, or fecundation, that the embryo begins to live a distinct individual life. For life does not result from an organism when it has been built up, but the vital principle builds up the organism of its own body. In virtue of the one eternal act of the Will of the Creator, Who is of course ever present at every portion of His creation, the soul of every new human being begins to exist when the cell which generation has provided is ready to receive it as its principle of life. In the normal course of nature the living embryo carries on its work of, self-evolution within the maternal womb, deriving its nourishment from the placenta through the vital cord, till, on reaching maturity, it is by the contraction of the uterus issued to lead its separate life. Abortion is a fatal termination of this process. It may result from various causes, which may be classed under two heads, accidental and intentional.
By Traci Osuna
OMAHA, Nebraska, June 22, 2011 (Zenit.org).- As a young medical resident in 1968, Dr. Thomas Hilgers was concerned with treating his patients and staying abreast of the latest medical advances. As a Catholic, he was also mindful that one of the most significant advances that had occurred in recent years with regard to reproductive health was the creation of the birth control pill in 1960.
Hilgers, now an obstetrician-gynecologist and specialist in reproductive medicine and surgery, is the author of "The NaProTechnology Revolution: Unleashing the Power in a Woman's Cycle." The book recalls what inspired him to found the Pope Paul VI Institute for the Study of Human Reproduction and develop methods of treating a wide range of gynecological issues in accordance with the teachings of the Catholic Church.
In the late 1960s, Hilgers writes, many wondered if the Church would adjust their stand on contraception: "I followed the controversy closely thinking actually that the Church was going to change its long-held position of being opposed to contraception." Then, on July 25, 1968, Pope Paul VI ended the debate and presented the Church's definitive statement in the form of the papal encyclical letter, "Humanae Vitae" (Of Human Life).
In the letter, the Pope stood firm and reiterated the value of human life and Church's direct opposition to contraception, a message that Hilgers said was received by many, even those in the Church, with anger and frustration.
Amid the controversy and biased media coverage, Hilgers writes that he decided to read "Humanae Vitae" himself. It ended up deeply impacting both his personal and professional life and would steer the course for his life's work in women's health care.
Cooperating with reproduction
Throughout the mid-1970s and early 1980s, Hilgers and his team researched various methods of fertility treatments and natural family planning approved by the Church. At the same time, the first "test-tube baby" was born and in vitro fertilization was the next "great" advance in medicine.
Still, his team pressed on, dedicated to their mission. Their work eventually led to the Creighton Model Fertility Care System, a natural way to regulate fertility.
In 1985, Hilgers
founded the Pope Paul VI Institute for the Study of Human Reproduction, located
In an interview with ZENIT, Hilgers explained that the Creighton Model Fertility Care System is "a unique system and because of that, it has had a special application in the area of women's reproductive health."
"Over these last 30 or 35 years," he added, "we've been continually investigating all that; and out of that has come Natural Procreative Technology (NaPro Technology)."
According to Hilgers, NaPro Technology is much more than an advanced form of natural family planning, which works cooperatively with a woman's cycle. "It actually becomes a whole new women's health science," he said. The science of NaPro Technology has three aspects to it, he says: the medical form, the perinatal form and the surgical form.
Rather than simply addressing issues of fertility, NaPro Technology works to address many gynecological issues that women face. "It's 180 degrees in the opposite direction of the artificial reproductive technologies," which, Hilgers explains, are either suppressive or destructive to the potential for human life, not cooperative.
He said that NaPro Technology also benefits women suffering from a variety of issues, including, but not limited to post partum depression, ovarian cysts, endometriosis, and irregular cycles; it also can help to prevent pre-term births, which often result from artificial reproductive means.
"There's a whole surgical arm of near adhesion-free surgery that we've developed," he says. "We can operate and reconstruct a woman's reproductive tissues in a way that has never been done before." He says that many women fear surgery can cause severe scarring, leading to more problems than it helps. "We can do surgery now in a way that does not cause that scarring."
Hilgers said treatments may range from a shot of progesterone to help postpartum depression, to observing and charting changes in the menstrual cycle in order to monitor fertility, to surgery, both laparoscopic (out-patient) and traditional.
Since the 1960s and 1970s, when free-love and the sexual revolution spread throughout society, and medicine brought us "The Pill" and the test-tube babies, other "advances" have been made as well; just not ones that secular society likes to talk about, says Hilgers.
He cites, and his book discusses, the increased numbers of such sociological and medical issues as: abortions, out of wedlock births, sexually transmitted diseases, various forms of cancers, cases of physical abuse, an increased divorce rate, teen suicide, low-birth weight babies, neonatal deaths, and increased drug use, all of which drastically increased in the last 45 to 50 years.
"We live fundamentally in a fertility abusing culture," says Hilgers. "People take their fertility for granted. They either suppress it [with birth control pills] or destroy it [with] different forms of contraception. And over the years of the so-called sexual revolution, one of the things they've always claimed is that there are no victims. But, I think [there has been] too much silence associated with the overwhelming destruction of relationships in the family and the epidemic of sexually transmitted diseases that has occurred as a result of all this."
Hilgers explained that since the birth control pill was introduced in 1960, it has taken on a new identity. "Doctors realized quickly that they could start treating a whole variety of conditions, such as irregular cycles, or recurrent ovarian cysts; the list goes on and on." Today, doctors routinely prescribe the pill to help with premenstrual syndrome, to ward off osteoporosis and to combat acne.
"They talk about the health benefits, but they don't talk about the health risks very much, except what is mandated by the Food and Drug Administration and then people don't listen," he says. He explains that use of the pill contributes to pulmonary embolisms, blood clots, myocardial infractions and heart attacks. Women are at an increased risk of breast cancer due to the use of the pill, as well as an increased risk of cervical cancer, often caused by the transmission of the human papilloma virus (HPV).
"[These are] all risks associated with [the pill], but they tend to 'pooh-pooh' all that and it's been really tragic for women," he says.
When Hilgers and his team began training physicians in their methods in the early 1980's, he recalls that the response from the medical field was not what they had initially hoped for. "For 10 years, we'd get one doctor a year, maybe, and they were usually upset by the end [of the program]," he recalls. "So it took a while."
In 1991, he published a medical textbook entitled "The Medical Application of Natural Family Planning: A Physician's Guide to NaPro Technology," and the word spread. "All of a sudden we had four or five doctors in the class, then we had 10, then 30." This past April, the Pope Paul VI Institute conducted a week-long seminar for 90 students, half of them physicians, the other half NaPro Technology instructors and fertility care specialists.
"We've had doctors from
"I've told many people that I never thought for a moment that I would see in my lifetime what I'm seeing today, so in that sense, it's very gratifying," says Hilgers. He readily acknowledges that, with the wide acceptance of contraception and artificial reproductive methods, they have a long road ahead of them and there is a lot of work to be done. "We're kind of the little kid on the block," he said.
But he is optimistic that society will start to value human life and will see the sacredness of God's gifts to us. "In the next 10 years, we're going to see a shift, I think. If you look, there's a shift now. It's not so obvious, not so big, but I think the potential is there," Hilgers said, with a sense of hope. "It's kind of fun thinking about it."
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On the Net:
"The NaProTechnology Revolution": www.amazon.com/NaPro-Technology-Revolution-Unleashing-Womans/dp/0825306264
For more information specifically on abortion, see Priests for Life , dedicated to the educating everyone on abortion.
Catholic Encyclopedia on abortion .