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Catholic Church Fathers Quotes on Contraception and Abortifacients

Nancy Pelosi made headlines back in 2008 when she argued for abortion rights as a Catholic, saying the Church hasn't always opposed abortion and abortifacients. That statement made her, not only a bad Catholic, but a bad historian, as well. 

You will also hear people say that Catholic Church hasn't always opposed contraception. That Catholic theology has changed over time with respect to abortion and contraception.     

This is not true at all. This is all part of the modernist heresy that teaches that ancient people were backwards and uneducated -- that what they have to say is irrelevant to our advanced society. While we may be a technologically advanced society, we are not a morally advanced society. The Church Fathers' teaching on morality is just as relevant now as it was during the days of Rome. 

To prove this point, here are some quotes from the early Church Fathers -- St. Jerome, St. Epiphanius, and St. John Chrysostom -- speaking knowledgably and vehemently against abortifacients and contraception.

The immorality of contraception and abortifacients is such a hotly debated issue in today's society. It may seem surprising that this moral question was just as relevant and widespread in the times of the Church Fathers. 

The truth is most major forms of contraception were around in Roman times and the Church fathers were able to see with amazing clarity the moral implications of this practice. 

Trade in herbal contraceptives and abortifacients -- pharmakeia -- were huge chunks of some ancient economies. You can read more about all this here, plus how the heart symbol came from an ancient contraceptive plant, silphium.

The Church Fathers on Contraception and Abortifacients

    St. Epiphanius on Preventing Conception   

    St. Epiphanius (ca., 315-403) criticized the Gnostics saying:

    They exercise genital acts, yet prevent the conceiving of children. Not in order to produce offspring, but to satisfy lust, are they eager for corruption” (St. Epiphanius, Panarion 26.5.2 [GCS 25:281]). 

    St. Jerome States that Abortion is the "Murder of an Unborn Child" 

    St. Jerome translated the Bible into Latin while in Bethlehem. For his creation of the Vulgate translation, Pope Benedict XIV declared him a Doctor of the Church in 1724. 

    St. Jerome wrote the following in the 4th century:

    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 22.13 PL 22.401)

    St. John Chrysostom Describes Abortion as Making the Uterus into a Slaughter-House

    Perhaps the most complete treatment on the matter is St. John Chrysostom’s Letter to the Romans from the fourth century:

    Why do you sow where the fields is eager to destroy the fruit? Where there are medicines of sterility? Where there is murder before birth? You do not even let a harlot remain a harlot, but you make her a murderess as well. Do you see that from drunkenness comes fornication, from fornication adultery, from adultery murder? Indeed, it is something worse than murder and I do not know what to call it: for she does not kill what is formed but prevents its formation. What then? Do you condemn the gift of God, and fight with His laws? What is a curse, do you seek as though it were a blessing? Do you make the anteroom of birth the anteroom of slaughter? Do you teach the woman who is given to you for the procreation of offspring to perpetrate killing? That she may always be beautiful and lovable to her lovers, and that she may rake in more money, she does not refuse to do this, heaping fire on your head; and even if the crime is hers, you are the cause. Hence also arise idolatries. To look pretty many of these women use incantations, libations, philtres, potions, and innumerable other things. Yet after such turpitude, after murder, after idolatry, the matter still seems indifferent to many men - even to many men having wives. In this indifference of the married men there is greater evil filth; for then poisons are prepared, not against the womb of a prostitute, but against your injured wife. Against her are these innumerable tricks, invocation of demons, incantations of the dead, daily wars, ceaseless battles, and unremitting contentions. (St. John Chrysostom, Homily 24 on the Epistle to the Romans: PG 60: 262-27)

    Summary: Church Fathers on Contraception and Abortion/Abortifacients

    Hopefully, you see now how the issues of the modern day were very relevant and even gravely important for the early Christians. Despite less advanced pharmaceutical terms, the Church Fathers description of these acts may sound more morally advanced and more clear than what's provided in the moral fog and turpitude of modern culture. 

    Also note: The Church Fathers argued against contraceptives for the very same reasons the Church continues to condemn them today. The Church has been steadfast and unwavering in its teaching on these points. Despite all the storms of civilization and the ravages of the centuries, the Church's teaching remains undimmed and un-eroded.  

    I will continue to add to this collection of quotes as I continue my research. Stay tuned for more. Also, feel free to comment below with your own research from the Church Fathers. 

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