“In Greek and Roman society, abortion was a commonplace even before the birth of Christ.”
(Balsdon, J. P. V. D Roman women: their history and habits. Toronto 1977, pg. 190-199 Christianity developed in a largely pagan society).
Though no Jewish religious texts are known that explicitly condemn the practice of abortion, Judaism regarded life in its early stage of development as a gift of God. (Psalm 139) Although not questioned by pagan society at that time, evidence of Jewish love for conceiving children can be found in pagan texts (Gorman Michael J., Abortion & the early church: Christian, Jewish & pagan attitudes in the Greco-Roman world, Downers Grove, 1982, pg. 34). Flavius Josephus, a well-known Jewish historian who described the destruction of Jerusalem, wrote: “The law, moreover enjoins us to bring up all our offspring, and forbids women to cause abortion of what is begotten, or to destroy it afterward; and if any woman appears to have so done, she will be a murderer of her child, by destroying a living creature, and diminishing humankind.”(Josephus, Flavius, The works of Flavius Josephus translated by William Whiston; with an introductory essay by H. Stebbing, Philadelphia, 1966, pg. 374-375)
If the writings of the New Testament refer to abortion, as some historians suggest, this reference is vague. Among the non-canonical writings of (probably) the first century are the Didache, the Epistle of Barnabas and the Apocalypse of Peter. The Didache states: “Thou shalt not slay thy child by abortion, nor kill that which is begotten”. (The Ante-Nicene Fathers, Didache 2:2 “Thou shall not slay thy child by causing abortion, nor kill that which is begotten; for everything that is shaped, and has received a soul from God, if it be slain, shall be avenged, as being unjustly destroyed” Grand Rapids, 1971). In the epistle of Barnabas we read: “Thou shalt not slay the child by procuring abortion; nor, again, shalt thou destroy it after it is born.”(The Ante-Nicene Fathers, Epistle of Barnabas “Thou shalt not slay the child by procuring abortion; nor, again, shalt thou destroy it after it is born.” (dated 70-138 AD) Grand Rapids, 1971)
Both documents consider abortion murder.
Tertullian in his “Apologetics” calls abortion murder, based on the idea that “He is a man, who is to be a man; the fruit is always present in the seed.” In rejecting abortion, not only the woman whose child is aborted is condemned, but also those who aid with either manufacturing abortifacients or performing surgeries. (The Ante-Nicene Fathers, Tertullian, Treatise on the Soul, Chapter XXXVII. On the Formation and State of the Embryo, “The embryo therefore becomes a human being in the womb from the moment that its form is completed. The law of Moses, indeed, punishes with due penalties the man who shall cause abortion, inasmuch as there exists already the rudiment of a human being”, Grand Rapids, 1971)
Apologists defended themselves against accusations of cannibalism using the argument that Christians don’t kill, “not even the fetus of the womb.” (The Ante-Nicene Fathers, Athenagoras, Plea for Christians, 35, Embassy Chapter 5, Tertullian 9,8) Grand Rapids, 1971)