The Abortion Holocaust: Child Sacrifice in the Modern Age -- by William J Tsamis

Aborted Fetus at 22 Weeks -- Legal Human Slaughter

"The fetus, though enclosed in the womb of its mother, is already a human being and it is a most monstrous crime to rob it of the life which it has not yet come to enjoy. If it seems more horrible to kill a man in his own house than in a field, because a man's house is his most secure place of refuge, it ought surely be deemed more atrocious to destroy a fetus in the womb before it has come to light." John Calvin

Until recently, the Christian Church has cried out with one voice regarding the crime of abortion. From the writings of Clement of Alexandria and Basil the Great, who both condemned the use of abortifacients, to the writings of Jerome, Augustine, Origen, and Chrysostom, to the writings of such contemporary theologians as Dietrich Bonhoeffer and Karl Barth, the Church has raised its voice in unison concerning this monstrous crime. As the Oxford scholar Bruce Metzger has observed, "It is really remarkable how uniform and pronounced the Christian opposition to abortion has been throughout the centuries."1 Not suprisingly, this solidarity of opinion derives from a holy tradition which is rooted in the very ethic of the early Church. As the Didache (ca. 100) explicitly teaches, "Thou shalt not slay a child by abortion or infanticide" (2.2), so too, the pseudepigraphal Apocalypse of Peter (ca. 150), a book which is quite vivid in its description of the inferno, tells us that the very lowest places of hell are reserved for those who have participated in the act of abortion in some way. Although not a canonical reflection of the inspired truth of God, the Apocalypse of Peter nevertheless gives us an indication as to the sentiment of the early Christians regarding the issue of abortion.

Why has the Church, historically, been so opposed to the act of abortion? Well, simply, the answer is rooted in the theology of creation and the anthropological idea that man is created in the image of God (Gen 1:26-27). Although many proponents of abortion will argue that the word abortion itself is not used in the Bible, we must respond by saying that, not only is this a futile and fraudulent argument (e.g. neither does the term substitutionary atonement, Holy Trinity, etc.), but the anthropological idea that man was created in the image of God precludes the destruction of that image in any way shape or form (although state execution has been debated, while self-defense and divine judgment are different issues). Anyway, with regard to the issue of the conception and development of human life, from the perspective of the biblical worldview, the living being, man, is not the result of a multi-billion year neo-Darwinian process, but rather, the living being, man, is a special, unique, and priceless creation of the God of the universe. Thus, any destructive assault upon the life of man, regardless of what point on the life continuum a particular person may be (continuum = conception >> birth >> early life >> adulthood >> aging years), such an assault is regarded as a horrendous abomination according to the biblical worldview. Thus, it is because of this belief in the divine origin of human life (cf. Gen 1:26-27) that the writer of the second century extracanonical work, the Epistle of Barnabas, condemns those who abort their unborn children as "killers of children who abort the image of God" (19.5).

Now, before we delve into the issue of pagan child sacrifice as a parallel of abortion in the modern age, let me just add that abortion is not only condemned by the historic Christian Church, but by all the surviving major religions of the world. For instance, the religion of Islam condemns abortion as the "Second gravest sin next to the rejection of Allah." Dr. Muhammad Abdul-Rauf, a leading Islamic scholar and bioethicist, poignantly states: "The prohibition against abortion is based upon the divine law, which makes the destruction of innocent human life, in particular the killing of one's own child, 'second in gravity only to the sin of disbelief in Allah.'"2 Abdul-Rauf's words, though very strong, are solidly based on the teachings of the Qu'ran and Hadith.

In addition to Islam, of course, we have the vehement opposition to the practice of abortion by the Orthodox and Messianic branches of Judaism,3 their arguments being quite the same as those articulated by historic Christianity. Unfortunately, the Reformed branch of Judaism,4 like many of its liberal counterparts in Protestant Christianity, has offered its consent to the horrific practice because of utilitarian impositions. And the Knesset, like many of its parlimentary counterparts in the Euro-American West, has legalized abortion as well. The Orthodox and Messianic branches of Judaism who have been lobbying the Knesset since the time of Menachim Begin (1973) have tried to restore the biblical worldview of the sanctity of life to the Jewish nation. However, with the rise of secularism and nominalism in Israel, all such attemps have resulted in futility. So, as in the days of Elijah, Jeremiah, and Ezekiel, we find innocent blood once again being shed on holy land.

Now along with the great religions of Christianity/Messianic Judaism, Islam, and Orthodox Judaism, both Buddhism and Hinduism deplore the practice of abortion as well. According to the Buddhist canonical scriptures (in this instance, the Vinyana-Pitaka), it is written: "Abortion is in accord with Buddha's teaching that the destruction of life is a moral transgression." In fact, expulsion from the monkhood is the consequence if a monk were to advise someone to procure an abortion -- to the Western mind such a penalty might seem somewhat lenient, but to the Buddhist mindset, such a penalty is a severe, dread consequence, re-depositing an incalculable sum of karmic debt.5 With regard to Hinduism, the noted scholar Candrasekhara dasa makes reference to Vedic teaching, when he says, "Life begins within the womb at the time of conception. Abortion, according to the 'Vedic texts,' is therefore tantamount to murder."6 Thus, we can conclude that not only is historic Christianity vociferous in its opposition to the horrific practice, but nearly all the great surviving religions of the ancient world have attested to this gross and detestable evil.

Now, what is especially evil and horrific about the practice of abortion, is the monstrosity and barbarism associated with the practice itself. Although it has now been refined to a technical, systematic procedure of fetal mutilation (still more barbarous than ever), in the ancient past abortion was practiced in a variety of ways. As G. K. Chesterton pointed out, "Throughout human history, there is above all, this supreme stamp of the barbarian; the sacrifice of the permanent for the temporary."7 A few examples will suffice in demonstrating that, in pagan antiquity, abortion was a common practice: For example, the Greeks would offer medicinal and herbal poisons which were intended to induce early fetal labor.8 (Incidentally, the usage of abortifacients was condemned by Hippocrates, as stated in the Hippocratic Oath). Some ancient Chinese women would tie heavy ropes around their waists so stringently that they would destroy the frail fetus in the womb and thus cause some form of miscarriage.9 The Polynesians would beat the abdomens of certain pregnant women with such force that the death of the fetus, again, was the ultimate objective.10 However, while such cultures practiced abortion, others resorted to infanticidal practices which were horrendous and gruesome, and even worse, such practices became part of the pagan religious cults of certain peoples -- the Canaanite practice of offering children to Baal/Molech/Chemosh being one of the most hideous of all examples. And it is with regard to this latter practice, i.e., the practice of child sacrifice, that the Bible is explicitly condemnatory.

Now, it is well-known that in the ancient world, child sacrifice and human sacrifice were somewhat common. In the Americas, for instance, the Mayans and the Incans performed ritual sacrifices, but perhaps the most bloody civilization of all was that of the Aztecs. In 1487, at the dedication of the great temple which stood in what is today Mexico City, a massive ritual sacrifice took place in which over 10,000 people perished on the temple's altars -- the killing was continual, four at a time, from sunrise to sunset. The priests worked on rotating shifts without pause to ensure that there was no pause in the offering of human hearts to the gods, the principal god being Tezcatilpoca.11 With methodical precision, the priests would cut into the victim's chest, take out his palpitating heart, and offer it to the great sun god. Ironically, though, despite the rivers of blood that would flow from their sacrificial temples, the Aztecs regarded themsleves as a gentle, environmentally conscious people, much like contemporary Western man. An ancient Aztec poem called "The Song of Spring" reads:

"In the house of paintings the singing begins, the song resounds bringing happiness. Over the flowers the pheasant's song unfolds, inside the waters, red birds respond. The song scatters flowers, bring happiness."12

Certainly, the tenor of this poem seems incongruent with a culture which was steeped in human sacrifice. And although we may think of the Aztecs as a barbarous people, they were actually very advanced in architecture, science, and technology, much like ourselves. So, in a sense, Western man is very much like Aztec culture, although this assertion would certainly be met with denial. Nevertheless, we talk and sing of love for nature and even for our fellow man, and much can be said to our credit. We are a charitable people who care about abused children, and we oppose evils like racism and bigotry. Yet while we retain values such as these, we also engage in the systematic mutilation and destruction of developing human life. We develop gross, barbaric procedures such as the D & X abortion procedure (Partial-Birth abortion) and we have no reservations regarding the wholesale slaughter of innocent human life. Good people we are, but with an addiction to murder!

Not to be outdone by the Aztecs, however, the Canaanite civilization was perhaps the most ominous and ritualistic when it came to child sacrifice. For instance, the Ammonite practice of sacrificing children to Molech was performed in the following manner: (1) A huge, hollow iron statue of the god was heated up from the inside so that the statue became like a furnace. In appearance, the statue stood erect with its iron-hot hands outstretched, and there was a mouth which would open and close, the mechanism being controlled by a secret lever; (2) This was a religious sacrifice, so it was officiated by the Canaanite (in this case, Ammonite) priesthood; (3) A woman would give her child into the arms of the priest, and the priest would walk, in ritual procession, toward the statue of Molech, between two rows of drummers who would slowly pound their big toms in order to "drown-out" the cries of the parents and children; (4) The priest would place the child on the burning-hot arms of Molech, and because the arms were tilted toward the body of the statue, the child would roll toward the mouth which would then be opened by the secret lever; (5) The child, scorched by the burning-hot arms, would then roll into the open mouth of the god and be consumed in the bowels of the inner furnace. Interestingly, many archaeological excavations in Syria, Palestine, and Jordan have revealed a massive deposit of infant remains which are, no doubt, the human debris from such Canaanite sacrificial rites. And it is with regard to this barbaric practice, i.e. child sacrifice, that the Bible makes numerous powerful, explicit condemnations.

As early as the Book of Leviticus, we find written in the "Holiness Code" (i.e. chapters 17-26), "[Whoever of the children of Israel sacrifices any of his children to Molech, he shall surely be put to death]" (Lev 20:2). Other texts such as Jeremiah 7 and 19, and especially Ezekiel 16:20-21, which deal with Israel in their state of apostasy, indicate that child sacrifice would eventually become a curse for the nation of Israel. For instance, the text of Ezekiel reads: "Moreoever you took your sons and daughters, whom you bore to me, and these you sacrificed to [the heathen gods] to be devoured. Were your acts of harlotry a small matter, that you have 'slain my children' and offered them up to them by causing them to pass through the fire?" (16:20-21). As the texts imply, the ancient kingdoms of Judah and Israel adopted the pagan Canaanite practices of idolatry and child sacrifice. Not only is this attested by Scripture, but also by numerous excavations in Palestine (e.g., the temple of Ashtoreth in Megiddo where numerous infant remains tell the story of a gruesome, barbaric, and heinous practice that once occurred). In the year 586 BC, the pagan city of Jerusalem was smashed by the Babylonians, and hundreds of thousands of Jews were slaughtered or deported, precisely as the prophets had foretold. The major transgression which brought about such destruction was that of child sacrifice. As the prophet Jeremiah had foretold:

"Hear the word of YHWH, O kings of Judah and inhabitants of Jerusalem . . . Behold, I will bring such a catastrophe on this place, that whoever hears of it, his ears will tingle. Because they have forsaken me and made this an alien place . . . and have filled this place with the 'blood of innocents.'"
Jeremiah 19:3-4 (ca. 605 BC)

Now, the philosophical issue which seems quite obvious to me is the parallel that exists between ancient pagan child sacrifice and the practice of abortion in our modern day. First, let us ask the question, "What is sacrifice?" Well, "sacrifice" (in this context) can be defined as "relinquishing what is valuable in order to secure a better future for oneself." In the Mesopotamian religions of the second and third millennia BC, for instance, the subjects of a certain kingdom would bring forth their offerings to the temple, and along with prayer and accompanying rituals, they would provide the gods their due, in exchange for health, prosperity, and well-being. In the extreme, the offering of one's child would be considered the greatest sacrifice; therefore, the subject would expect even greater rewards. Sometimes the remains of the firstborn child were even interred in the wall of the family home, thus assuring prosperity for the family.

Now although the pro-abortion community would decry such a comparison with ancient child sacrifice, if we superimpose the intents of the heart from that period onto the modern day, there is really no difference whatsoever. Essentially, we can conclude two things about abortion: First, that it is indeed a sacrifice, in that it can certainly be defined as relinquishing something that is valuable. And second, the deed is done in order for the individuals to secure a better future for themselves (the "individuals" being the birth-parents or others who benefit from the abortion -- several examples could be noted here, but this would bring about an unnecessary digression). Without getting into great detail, then, it is believed that a newborn child will be an obstacle to the future aspirations of the birth-parents and/or others. Indeed, even as it was in ancient times, the cultural mindset of the day (zeitgeist or spirit of the age) encourages and supports the abortive sacrifice of an [unborn] child in order that the participants might secure for themselves a better future. For instance, a young man and woman might decide that a child would be an obstacle to their college education, which would have implications for their future career and financial state -- thus, the abortive sacrifice is the answer. Or perhaps a single mom might decide that another child might require her to work harder in order to provide food and sustenance for another mouth. On the other hand, the abortive sacrifice sometimes benefits peripheral figures who then become instrumental in the decision-making process. For example, a wealthy father who has a reputation to protect in his community might persuade his unmarried pregnant daughter to procure an abortion in order to secure his future reputation in the community. In sum, at the heart of all these decisions is the attribute of selfishness -- even worse, it is selfishness at the expense of another -- indeed, even the death of another. However, contemporary Western man psychologically and sociologically veils this selfishness, first by denying the humanity of the [unborn] child, and then by proceeding to define the act in terms of altruism. The appeal to altruistic ideals intends to reinforce the legitimacy of abortion and provides a veil for the guilt that usually arises after the abortive sacrifice is secured (though the guilt associated with abortion is difficult to suppress, hence "post-abortion syndrome"). Some altruistic cliches which are employed to justify abortion are "Population explosion," "Individualism -- 'No one has the right to tell you what to do with your body,'" "It is unfair to bring an unwanted child into the world, especially if that child will be handicapped," "Just think, you could get a college education and do so much good for so many people," etc. But as the philosopher Ayn Rand once observed, "Every barbaric act of history has been built upon an altruistic ideal."

Although it is impossible to explore all of the evils of abortion in this paper, we can certainly deduce that abortion is the modern counterpart to child sacrifice in the ancient world - the intents of the heart being the same. In both contexts (i.e. the present and the past), we have the relinquishing of that which is valuable in order to secure a better future for oneself. Yet, even worse, the sacrificial act is being committed against a child by means of a hideous, barbaric, and gruesome method that results in pain, mutilation, and death. The theist must ask, "What can be more abominable in the eyes of God?" Thus, it is quite apparent from the perspective of historic Christianity that the essence of abortion is not only directed against an innocent creature of God, but even more, it is a violent and barbaric attack against the image of God (Gen 1:26-27). Moreover, though ancient child sacrifice was certainly horrendous, as we described above, I would venture to say that the pseudo-medical procedure of our day is perhaps the most horrific deed ever devised by the mind of man. Such techniques as systematic fetal mutilation and crushing of skull (D & C), saline destruction (salt poisoning), D & X (partial birth abortion - i.e. partial delivery of fetus, incision at base of skull, and suction of brain contents), etc., are simply brutal, barbaric, and criminal, bearing a mark of inhumanity that is second to none. That it is an assault upon the human being at his or her most vulnerable stage in the continuum of the life process, along with the barbarism associated with the technical practice itself, exposes the act of abortion for what it really is -- i.e. a Satanic attack upon the image of God in its most vulnerable form.

I feel that the greatest destroyer of peace today is abortion,
because it is war against the child, a direct killing of the innocent child,
murder by the mother herself. And if we accept that a mother can kill
even her own child, then how can we tell other people not to kill on another.

Mother Teresa of Calcutta
Postscript: An apologetic against abortion

You would ask your "abortion rights" opponent the following three questions, and then draw the unavoidable conclusion that the "abortion rights" supporter must concede!

1. Is the fetus developing in the womb? Yes

2. Is the fetus of the human species? Yes

3. Is the fetus a living thing? Yes

Conclusion: You have conceded that the fetus is a developing human life, and as an abortion rights supporter, you are sanctioning the systematic dismemberment, mutilation, and death of a developing human life.


1. Michael Gorman, Abortion and the Early Church. Downers Grove: InterVarsity,
1982, p. 9. *Condemnations of abortion by the early Church Fathers are littered throughout the Ante-Nicene, Nicene, and Post-Nicene Fathers, Ed. Alexander Roberts and James Donaldson, Peabody, MA: Hendrickson, 1995 (2nd printing), 1885 (1st printing). There is no ambiguity regarding the ethical position of the historic Church on this issue.

2. Tj. Bosgra, Abortion: The Bible and the Church. Toronto: Life Cycle, 1976, 1987,
p. 114.

3. Ibid., p. 121, 124.

4. Ibid., p. 118.

5. Ibid., p. 70.

6. Ibid., p. 124 -- International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON).

7. G. K. Chesterton, The Quotable Chesterton. Eds. George Marlin et al.,
Garden City, NY: Image, 1987, p. 34.

8. George Grant, The Quick and the Dead. Wheaton: Crossway, 1991, p. 66.

9. Ibid., p. 66.

10. Ibid., p. 66.

11. Larousse, Encyclopedia of Mythology, "The Aztecs" Trans. by Richard Aldington and Delano Ames, Cresent Books, 1989.

12. The Heights of Hungry Coyote, Poet of Ancient Mexico -- Trans. from the
Nahuatl (an Aztec writing) by John Curl