Friday, June 08, 2007

On the History of Abortion and Contraception

Pete Vere, a pro-life write and canon lawyer, comments on John M. Riddle's Eve’s Herbs: A History of Contraception and Abortion in the West (2002):

While it was not without its weaknesses, it answered a question that had long troubled me: I had often wondered why Holy Scripture appeared to say so little about the grave evils of abortion and contraception. As a pro-life Christian, it troubled me that the Bible never mentioned the words “abortion” or “contraception.” Eve’s Herbs provided me with a startling realization: in ancient and medieval times, contraception and abortion were often considered a form of sorcery and witchcraft, rather than a form of medicine.

Thus, Holy Scripture may never use the words abortion and contraception; however, the Bible is not silent on the issue. It simply condemns these practices under a different name. For example, Riddle notes the following while discussing the medieval witch: “The magic associated with women was often connected to their use of herbs.” He then cites a number of modern studies corroborating the effectiveness of the anti-fertility herbs used by witches and midwives during the Middle Ages. “In other words, the deeds described in the 15th century as the sevenfold traits of witchcraft are all creditable, according to modern medicine,” Riddle states. “Midwives and witches, whether one and the same, knew the drugs to take to reduce fertility.”

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