Jan 20 2007
(Mike Aquilina of THE WAY OF THE FATHERS gave blogdom this post on the subject of abortion in the writings of the Earl Church Fathers. With yet another Roe v Wade anniversary looming I thought it would be a good idea to offer the post on stblogs)
The Way of the Fathers » March in January
March in January
Monday January 15th 2007, 11:47 am
Filed under: Patristics
I think the Fathers would recognize America’s moral landscape for what it is. Our world is not so different from the world where they lived — the world they converted and healed.
But who belongs to our world? For the last generation, Americans have tried to place certain classes of humans beyond the protection of the law, outside the definition of personhood. It began with the fetus, the preborn child. Court decisions placed arbitrary limits — at the first trimester, or second, or birth. But does anyone take these seriously? What is it about a day of development — or a week — that changes the baby so radically as to make her a different sort of being? Which is the event that confers personhood?
Again, different ethicists propose different answers: self-consciousness, the ability to feel pain, sensitivity to light and sound, and so on. But these, too, fail. After all, we don’t (yet) kill older children who are blind or deaf. The most honest pro-choice thinkers put the matter baldly: what confers personhood is the will of the mother.
The Church Fathers were familiar with this line of thinking. In pagan Rome, a child did not achieve personhood until recognized by the head of the family, the father. When the mother had given birth, a midwife placed the child on the floor and summoned the father. He examined the child with his criteria of selection in mind.
Was the child his? If the man suspected his wife of adultery — ancient Rome’s favorite pastime — he might reject the child without so much as a glance.
If the child were an “odious daughter” (a common Roman phrase for female offspring), he would likely turn on his heel and leave the room. To finish reading click on the link above.