Abortion: A Reference Handbook (Contemporary World Issues) by Marie Costa

By Marie Costa

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Such legal regulation of abortion as exists in the Roman Empire at this time is aimed at protecting the rights of fathers, not of fetuses. A wife who procures an abortion without her husband's consent is subject to exile. References are made to abortion in the writings of Ovid, Juvenal, Seneca, and Pliny, who lists abortifacient drugs. Beginning of Christian Era (First through Seventh Centuries) From the first century onward, Christian thought is divided as to whether early abortion is murder. An early church document, the Didache, condemns abortion, saying "You shall not kill the fetus by abortion or destroy the infant already born" (Hurst 1989, 6).

Middle Christian Era (Eighth through Sixteenth Centuries) According to Hurst (1989), throughout this period abortion is treated as a serious sin of a sexual nature, but it is not considered homicide. D. 675, specify one penalty for abortion before hominization and a different and more serious penalty after hominization. D. 1100, church scholar Ivo of Chartres, while condemning abortion, states that abortion of an "unformed embryo" is not homicide. This stance will be reiterated 40 years later by Gratian, Page 3 whose writings on the subject form the basis of canon law for the next 700 years.

Finkbine seeks publicity to warn other pregnant woman of the dangers of thalidomide. As a result, the hospital refuses to perform the abortion (despite a judge's recommendation) out of fears of legal prosecution. Mrs. Finkbine eventually obtains an abortion in Sweden; the embryo is severely deformed. The United Presbyterian Church becomes the first major religious organization to urge uniform laws for therapeutic abortions. It will be joined a year later by the American Lutheran Church Executive Committee and the Unitarian Universalist Association.

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