Earlier this month, in a Post column, entitled, "Pro-life absurdity," Colby Cosh ramped up a remarkable attack on Christianity—as if no other religious groups or non-religious groups oppose abortion-on-demand—by making the astounding claim that, "It has only been in the last 40 years that there has been any real controversy about the ethical status of abortion."
For the record, the Roman Catholic Church—and no, I'm not a member—has opposed abortion on ethical grounds since around the year 100, as have most major world religions. -Claire Hoy
For the record, I got a lot of e-mails about this: all were from Christians (almost as if no other religious tradition has a bug so far up its ass about abortion-on-demand) and none successfully explained how these two facts actually contradict one another. I never wrote that abortion hasn't been considered a sin throughout history, though plenty of otherwise friendly commentators took that to be my meaning. I wrote that it has not continually been treated as morally equivalent to premeditated murder—which is what therapeutic abortion obviously is, if a fetus is endowed with the full package of human moral entitlements at the instant the egg is fertilized. It turns out to be rather hard to find Church figures who denounce abortion as deliberate homicide for a period of about 1,700 years of history.
To reassert the context that Claire omits:
It has only been in the last 40 years that there has been any real controversy about the ethical status of abortion. Medieval thinkers generally considered that it did not become homicide until (at least) the first exterior signs of activity in the womb; English common law refused to punish even positive infanticide as a species of murder; and in Victorian accounts of abortion prosecutions, it is clear that the chief concern of the authorities was not with the fate of a child, but with unwed mothers using risky means, ones inimical to the family structure, to conceal evidence of personal misconduct.
If anyone has a factual objection to the bold-faced material in that paragraph, they haven't been successful at making it to me yet.