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    Anti-Abortionism is an ideology that stands against abortion.



    Ancient Near East

    The earliest recorded laws against abortion come from the Assyrian Empire, whose legal code (11th century BCE) states; "If a woman with her consent brings on a miscarriage, they sieze her and determine her guilt. On a stake they impale her and do not bury her".[1]

    What the Hebrew Bible said about abortion is, to say the least, controversial. One passage cited against abortion is "When men get in a fight and hit a pregnant woman so that her children are born prematurely but there is no injury, the one who hit her must be fined as the woman’s husband demands from him, and he must pay according to judicial assessment." (Exodus 21.22, CSB). A passage cited about abortion is the "Trial of Bitter Water" in Numbers 5, in which a priest preforms a rite on a pregnant woman guilty of adultery. According to the NIV Bible, the priest says "May this water that brings a curse enter your body so that your abdomen swells or your womb miscarries." (Numbers 5.22). However, other translations of this verse do not say "miscarries", but instead either "your thigh fall away" (ESV and JPS) or "your womb to shrivel" (CSB). Another passage about this matter is Psalms 139:13-16, “13 For thou hast possessed my reins: thou hast covered me in my mother's womb. 14 I will praise thee; for I am fearfully and wonderfully made: marvellous are thy works; and that my soul knoweth right well. 15 My substance was not hid from thee, when I was made in secret, and curiously wrought in the lowest parts of the earth. 16 Thine eyes did see my substance, yet being unperfect; and in thy book all my members were written, which in continuance were fashioned, when as yet there was none of them.” (KJV).

    Classical Europe

    The Ancient Greeks were generally not against abortion. However, there were exceptions; the ancient Hippocratic Oath declared "I will not give to a woman a pessary to cause abortion". [2] The philosopher Pythagoras of Samos (6th century BCE) believed that life began at conception; the ancient historian Diogenes Laertius, describing the beliefs of Pythagoras, said "when brought to the womb ... soul and sense come from the vapour within".[3] The same source records how Pythagoras "forbade even the killing, let alone the eating, of animals which share with us the privilege of having a soul". By extension he likely would have opposed abortion.

    The early Christian church was almost universally anti-abortion. The Didache (1st century CE) declared "you shall not murder a child by abortion nor kill that which is begotten".[4] Athenagoras of Athens (2nd century CE) wrote "we say that those women who use drugs to bring on abortion commit murder".[5] Tertullian (2nd century CE) wrote "we may not destroy even the fœtus in the womb".[6] Christian lawyer Minucius Felix (3rd century AD) identified abortion with murder "There are some 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".[7] Basil the Great (4th century CE) wrote clearly, "The woman who purposely destroys her unborn child is guilty of murder" and "Women also who administer drugs to cause abortion, as well as those who take poisons to destroy unborn children, are murderesses".[8]

    Medieval and Renaissance Europe

    It should be unsurprising then that abortion was viewed negatively in medieval Europe. The Council of Trullo (7th century CE) in the Byzantine Empire declared "Those who give drugs for procuring abortion, and those who receive poisons to kill the fœtus, are subjected to the penalty of murder.".[9] The Visigothic Code, the legal system of Visigothic Spain, declared "we hereby decree that if either a freewoman or a slave should kill her child before, or after its birth; or should take any potion for the purpose of producing abortion, or should use any other means of putting an end to the life of her child, the judge of the province or district, as soon as he is advised of the fact, shall at once condemn the author of the crime to execution in public".[10] English jurist Henry Bracton (13th century CE) wrote "If one strikes a pregnant woman or gives her poison in order to procure an abortion, if the foetus is already formed or quickened, especially if it is quickened, he commits homicide".[11]

    John Calvin, an early leader of the Protestant Reformation, wrote "the foetus, though enclosed in the womb of its mother, is already a human being, ( homo,) and it is almost a monstrous crime to rob it of the life which it has not yet begun to enjoy".[12]


    United States


    United Kingdom

    In 1803, the United Kingdom parliament passed what's called "Lord Ellenborough's Act", which declared illegalized anyone causing a woman to abort her child, with the punishment being "... to be fined, imprisoned, set in and upon the pillory, publickly or privately whipped, or to suffer one or more of the said punishments, or to be transported beyond the seas for any term not exceeding fourteen years, at the discretion of the court". [13] The 1828 "Offences against the Person Act" declared that a doctor who aborts a fetus post-quickening "... shall suffer Death as a Felon" while one who aborts pre-quickening "... shall be liable, at the Discretion of the Court, to be transported beyond the Seas for any Term not exceeding Fourteen Years nor less than Seven Years, or to be imprisoned, with or without hard Labour, in the Common Gaol or House of Correction, for any Term not exceeding Three Years".[14] This law would later be repealed by the 1837 "Offences against the Person Act".[15]

    In 1861, yet another "Offences against the Persons Act" was issued that criminalized abortion. It declared "Every Woman, being with Child, who, with Intent to procure her own Miscarriage, shall unlawfully administer to herself any Poison or other noxious Thing, or shall unlawfully use any Instrument or other Means whatsoever with the like Intent ... shall be guilty of Felony, and being convicted thereof shall be liable, at the Discretion of the Court, to be kept in Penal Servitude for Life or for any Term not less than Three Years" (58), and "Whosoever shall unlawfully supply or procure any Poison or other noxious Thing ... knowing that the same is intended to be unlawfully used or employed with Intent to procure the Miscarriage of any Woman, whether she be or be not with Child, shall be guilty of a Misdemeanor, and being convicted thereof shall be liable, at the Discretion of the Court, to be kept in Penal Servitude for the Term of Three Years, or to be imprisoned for any Term not exceeding Two Years, with or without Hard Labour" (59).[16]


    Continental Western Europe



    In Tsarist Russia, abortion was punishable by death. [17] A relatively famous case is that of Mary Hamilton, a mistress of the Tsar executed for abortion in 1719. [18]

    This changed in the 20th century with the overthrow of the Tsar and the creation of the Soviet Union. The USSR was the first country to legalize abortion and to make it avaliable to the average woman. This changed again during the time of Josef Stalin, who in 1936 made abortion illegal again. Stalin decreed, "The performance of abortions shall be allowed exclusively in those cases when the continuation of pregnancy endangers life or threatens serious injury to the health of the pregnant woman" and "For the performance of abortions outside a hospital or in a hospital under conditions violating the above provisions, the doctor performing the abortion shall be criminally punishable to the extent of one to two years' imprisonment", and lastly "For compelling a woman to undergo an abortion, criminal penalty of two years' imprisonment shall be fixed.". [19]

    This changed yet again in 1955, when the USSR legalized abortion as it was in pre-Stalin times. [20] This continued to be the case in the early Russian Federation after the USSR's collapse.

    In 2011, the Russian Federation under Dmitri Medvedev passed a law restricting ability to abortion, while still keeping it legal. [21] Svetlana Medvedeva, a former First Lady, is a major figure in the Russian anti-abortion movement. The Russian Orthodox Church also opposes abortion.





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