Gratian's views on abortion

Hi everyone,

I’m a new user. This is the third time I’ve tried to post this thread, and it appears to have finally worked!

Anyway, I’m having an online argument with Dr. Hector Avalos (Professor of Religious Studies at Iowa State University) about Gratian’s views on abortion. Dr. Avalos maintains that not only did Gratian not view abortion as homicide - a point on which we both agree - but he even questions whether Gratian viewed abortion as a mortal sin, an assertion which I find ridiculous, because if he viewed contraception as a mortal sin, then how much more so, abortion, even of an “unformed” embryo. Anyway, I came across this passage in Gratian’s Decretum, and I was wondering if someone who knows Latin would be kind enough to offer a translation:

Nichil fedius esi quam amare uxorem quasi adulteram.

Item leronimus [contra louinianum, lib. I.]

III. Pars. Origo quidem honesta erat amoris, sed magnitudo deformis. Nichil autem interest ex qua honesta causa quis insaniat. Unde et Sextus in sentenciis: “Adulter est,” inquit, “in suam uxorem amator ardentior.” In aliena quippe uxore omnis amor turpis
est, in sua nimius. Sapiens iudicio debet amare coniugem, non affectu. Non regnat in eo inpetus uoluptatis, nec preceps fertur ad coitum. Nichil est fedius quam uxorem amare quasi adulteram. Certe, qui dicunt se causa reipublicae et generis humani uxoribus
iungi, et filios procreare, imitentur saltim pecudes, et post, quam uenter uxoris intumuerit, non perdant filios, nec amatores se uxoribus exhibeant, sed maritos.

A bit of background here: people in the Middle Ages apparently believed that sex during pregnancy could harm the embryo/fetus - especially during the first four months. It seems that Gratian regards men who have sex with their wives during this time as adulterers, insofar as they treat their wives as if they were their lovers. I may be wrong, but in the passage above, he also seems to be saying that in so doing, they lose their own sons. Apparently his successor, St. Raymond of Penyafort, interpreted him (Summa 4:28) as saying that sexual intercourse during pregnancy is mortally sinful - presumably because of the harm it does to the embryo/fetus. From this, it would surely follow that the intentional destruction of an embryo/fetus (as in abortion) would be an even greater mortal sin.

Is my reading of Gratian right? Would someone like to offer a translation? Thanks a million.

DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit