There is an assumption in sections of our culture that abortion is progressive, that history is moving inevitably towards greater acceptance of abortion globally. But legalized abortion is not in any way a new or a recent phenomenon. Abortion was legal in many ancient societies, including that of Rome. Not simply abortion, but infanticide. The killing of babies was common.
An extensive study of a mass burial at a Roman villa in the Thames Valley suggests that the 97 children all died at 40 weeks gestation, or very soon after birth.
The archaeologists believe that locals may have been killing and burying unwanted babies on the site in Hambleden, Buckinghamshire.
At this particular site, Sheppard Frere claims in his work Britannia that these children were not only victims of infanticide but were the unwanted female offspring of the slave-run establishment. The site is now believed to have been a brothel. There are interesting parallels between these gruesome practices and those of today, as Roman infanticide led to the deaths of many more girls than boys, boys being considered more valuable. So to consider abortion as progressive, when it is a legislative regression to a time when the value of life was bound up with a perceived worth based on gender, wealth and power, is incorrect.
Infants were not considered to be human beings until about the age of two and were not buried in cemeteries if they were younger than that.