The Early Church on Abortion: 8 Quotes Before AD 400

“You shall not murder a child by abortion nor kill one who has been born.” – The Didache (c. 80-140 A.D.)

Icon of Christ Pantocrator - The dual face represents his love for mankind (mercy) and his divine judgment (wrath).

Listers, the issue of abortion did not rise amongst the technological advances of modernism. It is a tragedy that has plagued humanity for millennia. The following are quotes from our Early Church Fathers. As the modern world is embracing a neo-paganism,  let us stand against the revitalization of the old atrocities our forefathers worked tirelessly to eradicate.

Let us pray for an end to abortion.

Our Lady of Guadalupe, pray for us.

“You shall not kill the child by obtaining an abortion. Nor, again, shall you destroy him after he is born.” 
St. Barnabas (“Epistle of St. Barnabas,” c. 70-100 A.D.)

“You shall not murder a child by abortion nor kill one who has been born.”
“The Didache [The Teaching Of The Twelve Apostles]” (c. 80-140 A.D.)

“Women who were reputed believers began to resort to drugs for producing sterility. They also girded themselves around, so as to expel what was being conceived. For they did not wish to have a child by either slave or by any common fellow – out of concern for their family and their excessive wealth. See what a great impiety the lawless one has advanced! He teaches adultery and murder at the same time!” St. Hipploytus (“Refutation Of All Heresies,” c. 225 A.D.)

“He [the schismatic Novatian] struck the womb of his wife with his heel and hurried an abortion, thereby causing parricide.”
St. Cyprian of Carthage (“Epistle 52 To Cornelius,” c. 251 A.D.)

The Precious Blood of Christ was poured out for all human life - no matter how small or vulnerable.

“A woman who deliberately destroys a fetus is answerable for murder. And any fine distinction as to its being completely formed or unformed is not admissible amongst us.”
St. Basil the Great (“Epistle 138,” c. 375 A.D.)

“Others drink for sterility and commit murder on the human not yet sown. Some when they sense that they have conceived by sin, consider the poisons for abortion, and frequently die themselves along with it, and go to Hell guilty of three crimes: murdering themselves, committing adultery against Christ, and murder against their unborn child.”
St. Jerome (“Epistle 22,” c. 380 A.D.)

“The rich women, to avoid dividing the inheritance among many, kill their own fetus in the womb and with murderous juices extinguish in the genital chamber their children.”
St. Ambrose (“On the Hexaemeron,” c. 386 A.D.)

“To destroy the fetus ‘is something worse than murder.’ The one who does this ‘does not take away life that has already been born, but prevents it from being born.'”
St. John Chrysostom (“Homilies on Romans,” c. 391 A.D.)



  • Amazing. So true. Thanks for posting these quotes.

  • Sue

    Thank you! So thankful for St. Peter’s List! The work you do provides timely, concise, and accurate details about what we as Catholics know we believe, but sometimes don’t recall the history as to why we are certaintain in those beliefs!

  • Thanks! these are great. I love the one from St. Basil the Great: “any fine distinctions… are not acceptable among us.” People think they are the first to ever even consider things, and that people of the past were all stupid. apparently the “formed or unformed” argument was alive and well at the time of St. Basil the Great who — as I know, having read his treatise on the Holy Spirit — wrote quite a bit about the heretics’ habit of making extremely fine grammatical distinctions (going into great detail about the difference between “of” and “by,” etc.) and basing whole complicated theologies on them. He had no patience for that sort of sophistry.

  • AMAZING! I love these quotes. I shared this on my facebook profile.

  • Christopher Beevers

    Hi Louis, hope that you are well and happy today. To actually read the quotes informing us that the horror has been with our culture for so long is a help. My quiet but strong resolve for the Pro-life cause is now further developed, chris.


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  • James

    One question on test.Jesus said love your neighbor as yourself. You are a person at conception. Before I formed you in the woumb I knew you—–God. If you reject this then I will not trust you with my life ! James