Abortion Essay - The Church Was Pro-Choice

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The Church Until Recently Was Pro-Choice

From a sermon delivered on February 15, 1998 at the Unitarian Universalist Church of Urbana-Champaign, Illinois, by the Rev. Elaine Gallagher Gehrmann:

Most of us know that the Roman Catholic church teaches that life begins at conception, and yet most of us don't know that this is a relatively recent change. It wasn't until 1869 that Pope Pius IX decreed that "ensoulment" takes place at conception. Up until then, the Catholic church had taught that "life" begins at 40 days gestation for a male and 80 days for a female, and therefore abortions before those 40 or 80 day periods were not viewed as murder. (Gehrmann)

The above claim that before 1869 the Catholic Church did …show more content…

Where there are medicines of sterility? Where there is murder before birth? You do not even let a harlot remain only a harlot, but you make her a murderess as well. Do you see from drunkenness comes fornication, from fornication adultery, from adultery murder? ... Do you make the anteroom of birth, the anteroom of slaughter? Do you teach the woman who is given to you for the procreation of offspring to perpetuate killing?" (Homily 24 on the Epistle to the Romans) (Jurgens)

The 1909 edition of the Catholic Encyclopedia notes:

The early Christians are the first on record as having pronounced abortion to be the murder of human beings; for their public apologists, Athenagoras, Tertullian, and Minutius (Eschbach, 'Disp. Phys.' Disp. iii) to refute the slander that a child was slain, and its flesh eaten, by the guests at the Agape, appealed to their laws as forbidding all manner of murder, even that of children in the womb. The Fathers of the Church unanimously maintained the same doctrine. In the fourth century the Council of Eliberis decreed Holy Communion should be refused all the rest of her life, even on her deathbed, to an adulteress who procured the abortion of her child. The Sixth Ecumenical Council determined for the whole Church, that anyone who procured abortion should bear all the punishments inflicted on murderers. In all these

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