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fit to denounce heavy sentences, and inflict sharp censures, upon Emperors, Kings, States, and Potentates, that shall give allowance to duels within their dominions ; pronouncing them, ipso jure, excommunicate; and depriving them of those towns, cities, lands, if held of the Church, where such unlawful acts are made: and that those, who either act or patronize, and by their presence assist, countenance, or abet such combats, shall incur the sentence of excommunication, the loss of all their goods, and perpetual infamy; and, if they die in such quarrel, shall, as self-murderers, be debarred the privilege of Christian burial.
Briefly, therefore, neither your justice nor your honour may de. pend upon the point of private swords; and, if there can be no other remedy, you must rather suffer in either, than hazard your soul.
IVhether may it be lawful, in case of extremity, to procure the abortion
of the child, for the preservation of the mother? I FEAR want of true judgment renders too many of the weaker sex grossly culpable, in matter of willing abortion; while, being not well principled either in nature or grace, they think it not unlawful, or at least venially so, whether out of the fear of painful childbirth or for the avoidance of too great a charge, to prevent the fulness of their conceptions: and, therefore, either by over vehement motion or unwholsome medicine, are not unwilling to forestal nature; and to free themselves early of that, which might, in time, prove their burden. Wherein they little know, how highly they offend the Majesty of God, in destroying his potential creature; and how heavy weight of guilt they lay upon their souls, while they endeavour to give an undue ease to their bodies.
Your question supposes an extremity: and, surely, such it had need to be, that may warrant the intention of such an event.
For the deciding whereof, our Casuists are wont to distinguish double; both of the state of the conception, and of the nature of the receipt.
In the former, they consider of the Conception, either as it is before it receive life, or after that it is animated. Before it receive life, they are wont to determine, that, howsoever it were no less than mortal sin in a physician, to prescribe a medicinal receipt to cause abortion, for the hiding of a sin, or any outward secular occasion; yet, for the preservation of the life of the mother, in an estreme danger, (I say, before animation) it might be lawful : But, after life once received, it were a heinous sin to administer any such mortal remedy. The later Casuists are better advised; and justly hold, that to give any such expelling or destructive medicine, with a direct intention to work an aborsement, whether before or after animation, is utterly unlawful and highly sinful. And with them I cannot but concur in opinion: for, after conception we know that naturally follows animation : there is only the time, that makes the difference; which, in this case, is not so considerable, as to take off a sin; that of Tertullian * comes home to the point, which both Covarruvias and Lessius urge to this purpose : Homicidii festinatio est, prohibere nasci : “ It is but a hastening of murder, to hinder that which would be born:" Homo est, qui futurus est : “ It is a man, that would be so, &c.” Upon this ground, we know, that, in a further degree of remoteness, a voluntary self-pollution hath ever been held to have so much guilt in it, as that Angelus Politianus reports it as the high praise of Michael Verrinus, that he would rather die than yield to it I : how much more, when there is a further progress made towards the perfection of human life! And, if you tell me, that the life of the mother might thus be preserved, whereas otherwise both she and all the possibilities of further conceptions are utterly lost; I must answer you with that sure and universal rule of the Apostle, That we may not do evil, that good may come thereon; Rom. iii. 3.
The second consideration is, of the nature of the Receipt, and the intention of the prescriber.
There are prescripts, that may, in and of themselves, tend towards cure, and may have ordinarily such an effect; but yet, being used and applied for the mother's remedy, may prove the loss of the conception, being yet inanimate. These, if they be given with no other intention than the preservation of the mother's life,
capable of excuse: for that the inconvenience, or mischief rather, which followed upon the receipts, was accidental; and utterly against the mind and hopes of him, that advised them.
But, if the conception be once formed and animated, the question will be so much more difficult, as the proceedings of nature are more forward. Whereupon it is, that the Septuagint in their translation, as Lessius well observes , have rendered that Mosaical law concerning abortions, in these terms: If a man sirike a woman that is with child, and she make an abortim ; if the child were formed, he shall give his life for the life of the child : if it were not formed, he shall be punished with a pecuniary mulcl to her husband il : Exodus xxi. 22. applying that to the issue, which the Vulgate Latin understands of the mother; and making the supposition to be of a formation and life, which the Latin, more agreeably to the Original, makes to be death; and our English, with Castalion 1, expresses by mis. chief: but whether the mischief be meant of the death of the mother, or of the late living issue, the Scripture hath not declared. Cornelius à Lapide **, taking it expressly of the mother's death, yet draws the judgment out, in an equal length, to the death of the child, once
§ Ubi supra.
* Tertul. in Apol. c. 9. t Less. I. ii. c. 9. du. 10. I Ne se polluerel, mavit ipse mori. 'Ex Poliviano Gerard. Voss. de Orig. et Progres. Idol. I. iii.c. 18.
|| The Sep.uagint seem to have iaken pox death, for purs, a diminutive of vix a man; as Cornel. a Lapid. probably guesses.
Castal. Si pernicies non fuerit : Ours; If no mischief follow". ** Cornel, a Lap. in Exod. xxi.
animated : making no difference of the guilt ; since the infant's soul is of no less worth, than hers that bears him.
In this case of the conception animated, I find the Casuists much divided.
While some, more tender than their fellows, will not allow, in the utmost extremity of a dying mother, a medicine that may be directly curative to be given her, if it should be with any apparent danger of the child, in case that the child may be probably drawn forth alive : which they do upon this false and bloodily uncharitable ground, that the child, dying without baptism, is liable to eternal damnation ; which woeful danger therefore the mother ought to prevent, though with the certain hazard of her own life*. But the foundation of this judgment being unsound (since to doom the children of believing parents inevitably to hell for the want of that, which they are not possibly capable to receive, is too cruel and horrible), the structure must needs totter. These men, while they profess themselves too careful of the soul of the child, which yet may perhaps be safer than their own; seem to be somewbat too hard-hearted to the body of the mother.
Others, more probably, hold, that, if the case be utterly despe. rate, and it be certain, that both mother and child must undoubtedly perish if some speedy remedy be not had; it may then be lairful to make use of such receipts, as may possibly give some hopes to save the mother, though not without some peril of the child +
But, all this while, the intentions and endeavours must be no other than preservatory; however it pleaseth God to order the events.
Shortly, no man, that purposely procureth an abortion, as such, can wash his hands from blood: no woman, that wilfully acts or suffers it, however the secrecy may exempt her from the danger of human laws, can think to avoid those judgments of the righteous God, which he hath charged upon murderers.
I cannot here, therefore, forbear to give the world notice of the impious indulgence of a late Pope, in this kind. Sixtus Quintus, who in our time sat in the See of Rome, finding the horrible effects of that liberty, which too many, both secular and religious persons, took to themselves in this matter of abortion; in a just detestation of that damnable practice, thought meet, in much fervour of spirit, to set forth bis Bulla Cruciate, than which there was never a more zealous piece published to the world : wherein that Pope pronounces all those, which have any hand in the acting or procuring of this wicked fact, of the ejecting of conceptions, whether animate or inanimate, formed or informed, by potions or me dicaments or any other means whatsoever, to have incurred both the crime and punishment of manslaughter; charging due execution to be done upon such persons accordingly : and, with:al, in a direful manner excommunicates them, and sends them to bell,
* Vel. ut alii, Quorum animæ certissimè in limbum descendunt sine Baptismo. Mart. Alphons. Viv. Explan. Bullæ de Abort. + Rodr. Sum. Tom. 1. c. 3. de Abort.
( without repentance); reserving the absolution solely to himself and his successors.
Now comes a late successor of his*, Gregory XIV., who, finding the sentence too unreasonably hard for his petulant and thrifty Italians, and indeed for all loose persons of both sexes, mitigates the matter; and, as a Spanish Casuist expresses it truly, in the very first year of his pontificate, in a certain Constitution of his, dated at Rome, the last day of May, 1591. delevit censuras, quas Sixtus V. imposuerat contra facientes, procurantes, &c. “abolished and took off those heavy censures, which Sixtus had imposed; and reduced the terrible punishments, by him ordained to be inflicted, unto a a poor bare irregularity; and determines, that any Confessor, allowed by the Ordinary, may absolve from this sin of procured abortion' :" by the slightness of the censure, in effect, animating the sin. An act, well becoming the Mother of Fornications. After all which Pandarism, let all good Christians know and resolve the crime, to be no less than damnable.
But, withal, let me advise you, with Martinus Vivaldus I, that what I have herein written against the procurers of abortions, may not be extended to the practice of those discreet physicians and chirurgeons, who, being called to for their aid in difficult and hopeless childbirths, prescribe to the woman in travail such receipts, as may be like to hasten her delivery, whether the child be alive or dead : forasmuch as the conception is now at the full maturity ; and the endeavour of these artists is not to force an aborsement, but to bring forward a natural birth, to the preservation of the mother, or the child, or both.
Whether a mun, aljudged to perpetual imprisonment or death, may, in
conscience, endeavour and practise an escape.
WHAT the civil or common laws have, in this case, determined for the public good, comes not within the compass of our disquisition. Let the guardians and ministers of those laws look carefully to the just execution of them accordingly. The question is only of the law of private conscience ; how far that will allow a man to go in case of a sentence passed upon him, whether of death or bonds.
And, first of all; if such sentence be unjustly passed upon an innocent, no man can doubt, but that he may most lawfully, by all just means, work his own freedom.
But if an offender, what may he do?
* Vid Roclrig. ubi supra.
+ Cons:it. Greg. XIV. Que dicit, quòd quivis Confessor, approbatus ab Ordinario, potcst absolvere à peccato abortus. Ibid.
Mart. Alphons. Vivald. explic. Bull. Cruc.
is kept in prison for any offence, whereupon may follow death or loss of limb, whether the crime be public or private, may lawfully flee from his imprisonment, and may, for that purpose, use those helps, of filing or mining, which conduce to this purpose *.”
Their ground is, that universal rule and instinct of self-preservation, which is natural to every creature; much more eminent in man, who is furnished with better faculties than the rest, for the working of his own indemnity. Whereto is added that main consideration of Aquinas; That no man is bound to kill himself, but only doomed to suffer death: not, therefore, bound to do that, upon which death will inevitably follow ; which is to wait in prison for the stroke, if he may avoid it: it is enough, that he patiently submits to what the law forces upon him, though he do not co-operate to his own destruction : his sentence abridges him of power, not of will to depart.
Whereupon they have gone so far, as to hold it, in point of conscience, not unlawful for the friends of the imprisoned, to convey unto him files, and cords, or other instruments useful for their escape.
But, herein, some better-advised doctors have justly dissented from them; as those, whose judgment hath not been more favourable to malefactors, than dangerous and prejudicial to the commonwealth : for, how safe soever this might seem in lighter trespasses, yet if this might be allowed, as in conscience lawful to be done, to the rescue of murderers, traitors, or such other flagitious villains, what infinite mischief might it produce! and what were this other, than to invite men to be accessary to those crimes, which the law in a due way intends to punish? Certainly, by how much a more laudable act of justice it is, to free the society of men from such wicked miscreants, by so much more sinful and odious an office it were, to use these sinister means for their exemption from the due course of justice.
But, howsoever for another man to yield such unlawful aid, is no better than a foul aflront of public justice, and enwraps the agent in a partnership of crime; yet the law of nature puts this liberty upon the restrained party himself, both to wish and endeavour his own deliverance: although not so, but that if the prisoner hare engaged himself by solemn promise and oath to his keeper, not to depart out of his custody, honesty must prevail above nature; and he ought rather to die, than violate that bond, which is stronger than his irons. Very Heathens have, by their example, taught us this lesson, to regard our fidelity more thân our life. Thus it should be, and is, with those that are truly Christian and ingenuous, under whatever capacity : but, in the case of graceless and felonious persolis, gaolers have reason to look to their bolts and locks; knowing, according to the old rule of wise Thales, that he, who hath not stuck at one villainy, will easily swallow another: perjury will easily down with him, that hath made no bones of murder.
But, where the case is entire, no man can blame a captive, if he
* Qui retinetur in carcere propter aliquod delictum, &c. Rodrig. Sum. cap. 40.