Though weighing in at a mere 101 pages of text, Abortion & the Early Church is an excellent overview on early Christianity's attitudes on that subject. Gorman examines the Pagan, Jewish, and Christian attitudes on abortion, spending more chapters breaking down Christian attitudes into the first three centuries and the fourth and fifth centuries. He then wraps up with two final paragraphs. One that rounds off the discussion of where Christian attitudes about abortion came from. Gorman concludes that Christian attitudes were heavily influenced by its Jewish history, but given Jesus' teachings on love and peace turned out to be more adamantly anti-abortion than the Jews. I suspect there is merit to this argument, but also think that much of Christianity's strong anti-abortion stance was due to its direct encounter with the pagan world. Even Jews in the diaspora tended to have their own communities and live amongst themselves. But many Christians were not only converted pagans, they were intent on spreading their own religion even deeper into Roman society. Such clashes tend to sharpen differences.
Up until this point, I benefitted from every part of the book -- even if I was not convinced on every point. Gorman does a good job of providing primary sources about pagan, Christian, and Jewish attitudes on abortion. He also does a good job of explaining those sources and spends much good analysis not only on what the attitudes on abortion were, but what the core of the issue really was. For example, was abortion criticized because it was an impediment to procreation, a means of covering up sexual immorality, a threat to the woman's life as well, or as the killing of a human life? (for Christians it seems all of these were mentioned, but the driving concern was the humanity of the fetus). Nevertheless, Gorman lost a star because his final chapter swerves into very 80s territory as he launches an assault on those pro-life Christians who are pro-strong national defense, pro-capital punishment, and not strong enough on the issue of gun control. Up to this point, his discussion was unemotional, logical, even systematic. Not so here. He comes across as a man struggling to reconcile his personal liberal political beliefs with his strong pro-life beliefs. His solution it to blast both sides. Beyond its obvious tangential nature, this diabtribe is out of place because it -- unlike his excellent discussion of early Christian views on abortion -- is built not on Christian history but on his own emotional biases.
Nevertheless, on the issue of abortion, this is one of the best values out there for understanding what the Church has believed on this subject -- it was immoral. And perhaps more importantly, why it believed what it did -- it was the taking of an innocent human life.