It often feels the abortion debate is a struggle beginning with Roe v Wade while in fact, this atrocity has been committed since ancient times. Despite this, we will be the generation that ends abortion.
There have been documented abortions as early 1550 BC in Egypt, and the Assyrians had codified penalties for abortion by 1075 BC. Abortion was not limited to the Near East; even then, it was practiced across the globe. Inscriptions at Angkor Wat in Cambodia depict women having abortions, and statues were erected in Japan to honor the victims of abortion.
It was not until the ancient Greek philosophers that the morality of abortion was questioned. Interestingly, many of the arguments ancient philosophers used to justify abortion are the same arguments pro-abortion activists use today. Discussions of viability and when the fetus becomes a human life were commonplace among Greek and Roman physicians and philosophers. Even the Hippocratic Oath was debated, as some believed it forbade abortion altogether, while others believed it merely forbade the use of certain medical instruments.
Despite centuries of conflict over the morality of abortion, it remained both legal and relatively common until the early nineteenth century. At this time, medical professionals led the charge to ban abortions, declaring it unsafe and harmful to both women and society. The leading feminists of the era, such as Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton, came out in opposition to abortion. Not only did they see it as a moral issue, but also they believed abortion was a tool men used to further oppress women.
Unfortunately, in the 1920s and ‘30s a campaign to liberalize abortion laws began. Led by feminists such as Stella Browne, the campaign urged women to take their “health” into their own hands. One such way they promoted was abortion. Beginning in the 1960s, states began decriminalizing abortion. In 1973, the United States Supreme Court essentially ruled that abortions were to be legalized throughout the United States.
Despite the victories of the pro-abortion movement, the pro-life movement has found tremendous success in the recent decades. The National Right to Life Committee was founded in the late 1960s, and the Catholic Church began formal opposition to abortion in the early ’70s. Since then, scores of pro-life organizations have been formed, and millions of dollars to support crisis pregnancy centers and promote pro-life legislation have been raised. Four pro-life presidents have been elected and The March For Life has drawn hundreds of thousands of people each year.
Abortion is a tragedy almost as old as civilization itself. It is inseparable from human history. History has shown us abortion has always been used to oppress women and prevent men from facing the consequences of their actions; abortion has always been dangerous to the life of the mother; and abortion has always ended the life of an innocent child. Yet, history has also shown us wherever this evil has presented itself, there are those willing to fight against it.
We are the generation that will end the atrocity of abortion once and for all.
The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official position of Human Defense Initiative.