Life and Death
A Question of Life or Death is a Zenit article. It notes church history relevant to abortion as written about in a book authored by Dennis Di Mauro titled A Love for Life: Christianity's Consistent Protection of the Unborn.
In the book's introduction Di Mauro, secretary of the National Pro-Life Religious Council and president of Northern Virginia Lutherans for Life, asserts that Christianity has been, is now, and will be in the future, a pro-life religion.
The first chapters of the book examine the Biblical passages that reveal a pro-life message. Di Mauro then turns to the testimony of the early Fathers of the Church. From the very start of the Church, in writings such as the late first-century Didache, abortion was regarded as immoral.
Apologists, such as the second-century Athenagorus, or the author of the second or third-century Epistle to Diogenetus, also clearly regarded the life in the womb as human, Di Mauro explains.
The Epistle states: "They [Christians] marry as do all others; they beget children, but they do not destroy their offspring."
At the end of the second century Tertullian, in defending Christianity against accusations of infant sacrifice, replied saying that for Christians homicide has been forbidden and that it is not permitted to destroy what has been conceived in the womb. Tertullian also believed that a child received its soul at the moment of conception, Di Mauro notes.
By the fourth century, the book explains, the councils of the Church began to proscribe punishments for those who procured abortions. In fact, transgressors were only re-admitted to the Church on their deathbeds.
In 305 the Synod of Elvira, in Spain, condemned abortion and proscribed excommunication for those who procured abortions.