Old Catholic Communion of North America
POSITION on ABORTION
How many abortions have there been
since 1973 -- 38,010,378
Of this number how many abortions have been
the results of maternal or fetal health problems, rape, or incest?
Less than 7% of all abortions are for these
reasons. This means that 35,349,652 pregnancies were terminated by the
use of abortion for contraceptive purposes.
What does all this really mean?
According to the World Fact Book published by
the CIA2 the mortality rate for infants is 6.63 deaths per
1,000 live births. This would mean that of the 35,349,652 pregnancies
that could have been full term there would have 35,137,554 more children
in our country.
What does the Old Catholic Church believe
The OCCNA, like the Roman, Orthodox, and the
majority of other Christian denominations, as well as the majority of
other religions believes that abortion is the willful taking of an
But how can any church or religion make this
claim since even with our advanced science we can't determine when life
As stated above based on statistics, which is
a science, abortion has resulted in the loss of over 35 million future
lives. Does it really matter so much as when "life" begins when one
really considers the undeniable fact that a future human being was
As Old Catholic we take our guidance from the
Early Church. Is not abortion a new issue?
The position of the OCCNA and the Early
Church Fathers are in total agreement that abortion is a sin.
Fortunately, abortion, like all sins, is forgivable and clergy should
make every effort to help women experiencing the grief and remorse of an
abortion return to the Father. Included in this document you will find
some of only a few writings from the Early Church regarding abortion.
What can I do to help prevent the loss of
life due to abortion?
First of all one must not resort to violence
as some have done. It is the responsibility of the faithful, especially
the clergy, to educate others as to what the Church believes. It is the
responsibility of the faithful to voice the beliefs of the church to
elected officials to stop the use of abortion as a contraceptive. It is
the responsibility of the faithful to place the welfare of the innocents
above their own comforts and desires when making a determination as to
how to vote.
House of Bishops
Early Church Writings:
"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.
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.
"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
"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]).
"When God forbids us to kill, he not only
prohibits us from open violence, which is not even allowed by the public
laws, but he warns us against the commission of those things which are
esteemed lawful among men. . . . Therefore, let no one imagine that even
this is allowed, to strangle newly born children, which is the greatest
impiety; for God breathes into their souls for life, and not for death.
But men, that there may be no crime with which they may not pollute
their hands, deprive [unborn] souls as yet innocent and simple of the
light which they themselves have not given.
"Can anyone, indeed, expect that they would abstain from the blood of
others who do not abstain even from their own? But these are, without
any controversy, wicked and unjust" (Divine Institutes 6:20 [A.D.
Council of Ancyra
"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.
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 [A.D. 391]).
"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.
on numbers and estimates reported by the Alan Guttmacher Institute
1973-1996, with NRLC estimates of 1,365,730 for 1997 and 1998. AGI
estimates a possible 3% underreporting rate, which is factored into the
2. CIA -
The World Factbook -- United States