Even some Catholics don't know that the Church has condemned abortion consistently, right from the earliest Christian centuries. These people (and many outside the Church) think the Church's position developed over the years, starting out as mild disapproval, moving through repugnance, ending up only recently (historically speaking) in outright and universal condemnation.
It's an interesting notion, but one not at all supported by the facts. If we look at what the Fathers said about abortion, we find they were not in the least unsure about what position a Catholic had to take.
Not a single Christian who wrote about abortion in the early years of the Church took an "I'm personally opposed, but . . ." stance.
Quite the opposite. Read through these quotations and see how sharp the writers were. No mincing of words here!
We suggest you use these citations not just to prove the Church's consistent stand against abortion. That's the first use of them, of course, but probably most of your friends will be against abortion anyway and won't need further convincing.
Use these citations also to demonstrate that we need to look to early Christian writings no matter what the topic, whether the question is one of morals or faith. Your friends, both Catholic and non-Catholic, need to learn to turn regularly to the writings of the early Christians. If you can help get them in the habit of doing this, you will do much to solidify the faith of their upbringing (in the case of Catholics) and to make them marvel at the consistency of the Catholic position (in the case of non-Catholics).
"The second commandment of the teaching: You shall not murder. You shall not commit adultery. You shall not seduce boys. You shall not commit fornication. You shall not steal. You shall not practice magic. You shall not use potions. You shall not procure [an] abortion, nor destroy a new-born child" (2:1-2 [A.D.140]).
"Women who were reputed to be believers began to take drugs to render themselves sterile, and to bind themselves tightly so as to expel what was being conceived, since they would not, on account of relatives and excess wealth, want to have a child by a slave or by any insignificant person. See, then, into what great impiety that lawless one has proceeded, by teaching adultery and murder at the same time!" (Refutation of All Heresies [A.D. 222]).
"In our case, a murder being once for all forbidden, we may not destroy even the fetus in the womb, while as yet the human being derives blood from the other parts of the body for its sustenance. To hinder a birth is merely a speedier man-killing; nor does it matter whether you take away a life that is born, or destroy one that is coming to birth. That is a man which is going to be one; you have the fruit already in its seed" (Apology 9:8 [A.D. 197]).
"Among surgeons' tools there is a certain instrument, which is formed with a nicely-adjusted flexible frame for opening the uterus first of all, and keeping it open; it is further furnished with an annular blade, by means of which the limbs [of the child] within the womb are dissected with anxious but unfaltering care; its last appendage being a blunted or covered hook, wherewith the entire fetus is extracted by a violent delivery.
"There is also [another instrument in the shape of] a copper needle or spike, by which the actual death is managed in this furtive robbery of life: They give it, from its infanticide function, the name of embruosphaktes, [meaning] "the slayer of the infant," which of course was alive. . . .
"[The doctors who performed abortions] all knew well enough that a living being had been conceived, and [they] pitied this most luckless infant state, which had first to be put to death, to escape being tortured alive" (De Anima 25 [A.D.210]).
"Now we allow that life begins with conception because we contend that the soul also begins from conception; life taking its commencement at the same moment and place that the soul does" (De Anima 27 [A.D. 210]).
"There are some [pagan] women who, by drinking medical preparations, extinguish the source of the future man in their very bowels and thus commit a parricide before they bring forth. And these things assuredly come down from the teaching of your [false] gods. . . . To us [Christians] it is not lawful either to see or hear of homicide" (Octavius 30 [A.D. 210]).
"When God forbids us to kill, he not only prohibits us from open violence, which is not even allowed by the public laws, but he warns us against the commission of those things which are esteemed lawful among men. . . . Therefore, let no one imagine that even this is allowed, to strangle newly-born children, which is the greatest impiety; for God breathes into their souls for life, and not for death. But men, that there may be no crime with which they may not pollute their hands, deprive [unborn] souls as yet innocent and simple of the light which they themselves have not given.
"Can anyone, indeed, expect that they would abstain from the blood of others who do not abstain even from their own? But these are, without any controversy, wicked and unjust" (The Divine Institutes 6:20 [A.D.311]).
"A woman who has deliberately destroyed a fetus must pay the penalty for murder. . . . Those also who give drugs causing abortions are murderers themselves, as well as those who receive the poison which kills the fetus" (Canonical Epistle to Amphilochius, Bishop of Iconium 188:2, 9 [A.D. 374]).