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Abortion and Roman Times

Written By: Jim Swanson  |  Posted: Tuesday, March 16th, 2010

William Barklay writes, "Roman father had absolute power over his family. He could sell them as slaves, he could make them work in his fields even in chains, he could punish as he liked and could even inflict the death penalty. Further, the power of the Roman father extended over the child's whole life, so long as the father lived. A Roman son never came of age. Even when he was a grown man, even if he were a magistrate of the city, even if the state had crowned him with well-deserved honors, he remained within his father's absolute power. "The great mistake, " writes Becker, "consisted in the Roman father considering the power which Nature imposes as a duty on the elders, of guiding and protecting a child during infancy, as extending over his freedom, involving his life and death, and continuing over his entire existence." It is true that the father's power was seldom carried to its limits, because public opinion would not have allowed it, but the fact remains that in the time of Paul the child was absolutely in his father's power. There was the custom of child exposure. When a child was born, it was placed before its father's feet, and, if the father stooped and lifted the child, that meant that he acknowledged it and wished it to be kept. If he turned and walked away, it meant that he refused to acknowledge it and the child could quite literally be thrown out."

As appalling as this seems to us in modern society, we are actually little changed. Our society is still Roman for we have transferred the absolute power from the father to the mother, and applied this authority to the child's life before birth. She can legally say the child is to "be thrown out" in a 'procedure' called an abortion. To make this palatable, we change the name of this authority from 'Child Exposure' to 'Pro Choice' emphasizing the parents' rights and, still, ignoring the child's. This wording has worked so well that we cannot say, as was said of the Romans, this "power was seldom carried to its limits because public opinion would not allow it." No, public opinion allows us to now kill one in every four children conceived and little is said about it. According to Gibbon's Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, the moral decay of the Roman empire led to its destruction. How can America survive, for it is traveling the same road?

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