Quinisext Council, Canon 91.previous | next
As for women who furnish drugs for the purpose of procuring abortion, and those who take foetus-killing poisons, they are made subject to the penalty prescribed for murderers.
Some women, who happen to conceive as a result of secretly practicing coition with men, in order to escape detection swallow certain poisonous draughts or herbs by means of which they kill the foetus in their womb and thus expel it dead. For this reason the present Canon condemns to the penalty of murderers all women (or men) who furnish such means, as well as the women who take these and swallow them.
Canon VIII of Basil decrees this same thing verbatim. But treating such women more kindly, the Fathers in Ancyra, in their c. XXI, and St. Basil the Great, in his c. II, do not canonize for life, but only for ten years. Drugs for procuring abortion, termed abortifacients, are, as some note, and more especially Suidas, the destructive herb named in c. XXI of Ancyra, but the same term is also applied (in Greek) to the foetus destroyed by it. Even in Book LX of the Basilica, Title 39, both women furnishing and those taking these poisonous herbs are condemned as murderesses. Athenagoras, too, in his Apology for Christians, says this very thing. See also Ap. c. LXVI.
 Emperors Leo and Constantine, in their Ecloge of Laws (Title XXVIII) say that if a woman become pregnant in consequence of fornication shall enter into a secret plot or design against her belly, with a view to aborting the child, shall be beaten and exiled.