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Abortion and Hell

Ever since the Dobbs v. Jackson majority opinion was leaked to the press at the beginning of the month, the social media world has been on fire with discussions, arguments, and outright flame-wars over the potential re-criminalization of abortion in this country.

The formerly prominent commentator, Mark Shea, has been on a tear repeating Planned Parenthood talking points by saying things like “criminalizing abortion does not lower abortion rates and *does* raise maternal mortality rates.” 

Similarly, Nancy Pelosi is defiantly continuing to receive Holy Communion, despite the clear directive from Abp. Cordileone that she is to be denied Holy Communion due to her unrepentant support for unfettered access to abortion.

And on countless social media pages are raging debates about the practicality of criminalizing the act of abortion, the nature of the penalty, and the “fairness” (yes, I’ve seen that word used with regard to permitting women to murder their own children) of allowing women to decide “when, if, and how to have a baby.”

But what is lost in the discussion is the understanding of the eternal ramifications brought by abortion.

I just ordered a copy of Paul Thigpen’s book, “Saints Who Saw Hell, and Other Catholic Witnesses to the Fate of the Damned.”  It’s a short but powerful book with a multitude of examples of what becomes of unrepentant sinners.  As I was reading it, I discovered that the apocryphal books called the Apocalypse of St. Peter and the Apocalypse of St. Paul address the suffering of the damned souls in Hell, even specifically addressing the souls of those who had aborted their children!

I want to be clear that these books are not regarded as part of the inerrant canon of Scripture, but they are worthy of contemplation and consideration.  In fact, many of the Church fathers regarded them as authentic and recommended them for contemplative reading.

From the Apocalypse of St. Peter, he described first a place of delight wherein dwelt the righteous.  Following that, he described the place of torments for those who were punished.  After describing the punishments of blasphemers, he wrote:

I saw the murderers and their accomplices cast into a narrow place full of evil snakes.  Being stung by these serpents, they were writhing about in torment.  Also covering them were worms, thick like clouds of darkness.  And the souls of those who had been murdered stood and looked on the torment of their murderers and said, ‘O God, righteous is your judgment.’

Near that place I saw another narrow place, where all the gore and filth of those in torment ran down, pooling like a lake.  And there sat women up to their necks in that liquid, and over them sat crying many children who were taken from the womb before their due time.  From these children shone forth rays of fire that struck the women in the eyes.  These were the accursed ones who had conceived children but obtained abortions.”

In remnants of the Apocalypse of Peter written in Ethiopic text, we read the following:

“Other men and women [who had aborted their children] will stand above them, naked, while their children stand over them in a place of delight.  They will sigh and cry to God because of their parents, saying: ‘They are the ones who have despised and cursed and transgressed your commandments and delivered us to death.  They have cursed the angel who formed us, and have hung us up and withheld us from the light you have given to all creatures.’

The milk of their mothers flowing from their breasts will congeal, and from it will come flesh-eating beasts.  These creatures will turn on them and torment them forever with their husbands, because they abandoned the commandments of God and killed their children.  As for their children, they will be given to the care-giving angel.  And those who killed their children will be tormented forever, for so God wills it …”

The Apocalypse of St. Paul is equally frightening.  The earliest version of this book dates to the early 3rd century, and there is some indication that the theologian Origen was familiar with it.  That said, St. Augustine considered it a forgery “filled with fables,” and as Thighpen wrote in his introduction to this segment, “The Apocalypse of St. Paul can certainly not be viewed, then, as even a private revelation to the Apostle Paul, and some of its passages would be difficult to square with Scripture.  Even so, the portion on Hell provides a useful occasion for reflection on the potential consequences of sin and the horror of everlasting separation from God.”

It is in line with this same thought that I present to you the passage regarding the souls of mothers and fathers who aborted their children:

I saw the angel of torments torturing them most fiercely and saying, ‘Acknowledge the Son of God!  For you were warned before, but when Scriptures of God were read to you, you paid no heed.  Therefore the judgment of God is just, for your evil deeds have taken hold of you and brought you to these torments.’

But I sighed and wept, asking, ‘Who are these men and women who are strangled in the fire and pay the penalty?’

He answered, ‘These are the women who defiled the creation of God when they brought forth infants from the womb [by aborting them], and these are the men who lay with them.’

But their infants appealed to the Lord God and to the angels in charge of the torments, saying, ‘Avenge us of our parents!  For they have defiled the creation of God.  Having the name of God, but not observing His commandments, they gave us as food to dogs and to be trampled on by swine, and others they case into the river, and did not allow us to grow up into righteous men and women who could serve God.’

Nevertheless, these infants were taken to the angels of Tartarus so they could bring them into a spacious place of mercy.  But their fathers and mothers were strangled with everlasting torment.

I thought it appropriate to consider these passages for two reasons: 1) Abortion has been condemned as an absolute abomination and damnable act since the very foundation of the Church.  In fact, the Didache, which is the very first Catechism of the Church, states very clearly, “thou shalt not kill a child by abortion, nor what has been begotten shalt thou destroy.”  2) The current debates on temporal punishments related to the crime of abortion completely ignore the eternal ramifications of the act.  Sinful actions in this life have catastrophic consequences in the next, and without repentance, the souls of men, women, and their doctors are doomed to an eternity of the most terrifying torments imaginable.

As faithful Catholics, our concerns for the souls of others are not just for the temporal realm, but for the eternal as well.  The Left is so full of cries of “love,” “mercy,” and “compassion,” but with their brand of temporal reprieve from the consequences of sin, they compound the spiritual damage beyond measure.

We are all currently witnessing a crescendo in the war between the Culture of Life and the Culture of Death.  And while the Goats of the Left unleash their fury upon the Lambs of the Right, the Lambs must recognize that it is not the Goats we fight, but the infernal shepherds behind them.  While we must stand firm and hold to the Truth, we must also recognize that the Goats are not the enemy to be fought, but the battleground to be won.  And we win that battleground though our prayers, sacrifices, and acts of reparation as requested by Our Lady.  The war will end when she wishes it to end.  In the meantime, we fight for the salvation of souls.

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As always, please pray for the Church, for our bishops, priests, deacons, and for Lepanto's mission as we continue to unearth the truth and "restore all things to Christ." (Col. 1:20)

Christus Vincit!

Michael Hichborn
Lepanto Insititute