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The Visigothic Code: (Forum judicum)

ed. S. P. Scott



Book VI: Concerning Crimes and Tortures

Title III: Concerning Abortion

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I. Concerning Those who Administer Drugs for the Production of Abortion.
II. Where a Freeborn Man Causes a Freeborn Woman to Abort.
III. Where a Freeborn Woman Causes another Freeborn Woman to Abort.
IV. Where a Freeborn Man Produces Abortion upon a Slave.
V. Where a Slave Produces Abortion Upon a Freeborn Woman.
VI. Where a Slave Produces Abortion upon a Female Slave.
VII. Concerning Those who Kill their Children before, or after, they are Born.

ANCIENT LAW.
I. Concerning Those who Administer Drugs for the Production of Abortion.

If anyone should administer a potion to a pregnant woman to produce abortion, and the child should die in consequence, the woman who took such a potion, if she is a slave, shall receive two hundred lashes, and if she is freeborn, she shall lose her rank, and shall be given as a slave to whomever we may select.

ANCIENT LAW.
II. Where a Freeborn Man Causes a Freeborn Woman to Abort.

If anyone should cause a freeborn woman to abort by a blow, or by any other means, and she should die from the injury, he shall be punished for homicide. But if only an abortion should be produced in consequence, and the woman should be in no wise injured; where a freeman is known to have committed this act upon a freewoman, and the child should be fully formed, he shall pay two hundred solidi; otherwise, he shall pay a hundred solidi, by way of satisfaction.
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ANCIENT LAW.
III. Where a Freeborn Woman Causes another Freeborn Woman to Abort.

Where a freeborn woman, either by violence or by any other means, causes another freeborn woman to abort, whether, or not, she should be seriously injured as a result of said act she shall undergo the same penalty provided in the cases of freeborn men.

ANCIENT LAW.
IV. Where a Freeborn Man Produces Abortion upon a Slave.

Where a freeborn man produces abortion upon a female slave, he shall be compelled to pay twenty solidi to the master of the slave.

V. Where a Slave Produces Abortion upon a Freeborn Woman.

Where a slave produces abortion upon a freeborn woman, he shall receive two hundred lashes in public, and shall be delivered up as a slave to said woman.

ANCIENT LAW.
VI. Where a Slave Produces Abortion upon a Female Slave.

Where a male slave produces abortion upon a female slave, he shall be compelled to pay ten solidi to her master, and, in addition, shall receive two hundred lashes.

FLAVIUS CHINTASVINTUS, KING.
VII. Concerning Those who Kill their Children before, or after, they are Born.

No depravity is greater than that which characterizes those who, unmindful of their parental duties wilfully [208] deprive their children of life, and, as this crime is said to be increasing throughout the provinces of our kingdom and as men as well as women are said to be guilty of it; therefore, by way of correcting such license, we hereby decree that if either a freewoman or a slave should kill her child before, or after its birth; or should take any potion for the purpose of producing abortion, or should use any other means of putting an end to the life of her child, the judge of the province or district, as soon as he is advised of the fact, shall at once condemn the author of the crime to execution in public; or should he desire to spare her life, he shall at once cause her eyesight to be completely destroyed; and if it should be proved that her husband either ordered, or permitted the commission of this crime, he shall suffer the same penalty.(1)


Note for Book VI, Title III

1. While abortion, as is well known, was not a crime at Common Law and, under statutory regulations, was for a long time not considered punishable until the period of quickening; it was, however, recognized as a serious offence by the Romans, whose legislation on the subject was copied by the Visigoths. The wide variation of the penalties prescribed was, as is usual, largely dependent upon the social standing of the culprit; excepting in the provisions of the seventh chapter where the innate cruelty of barbarian retribution is disclosed by one of the most frightful of punishments. -- [ED.