In the pagan Roman empire, abortion and infanticide were commonplace events, requiring little deliberation. A child did not achieve personhood until recognized by the head of the family. Immediately after the baby’s delivery, a midwife placed the child on the floor and summoned the father. He examined the child with his criteria of selection in mind.
Was the child his? If the man suspected his wife of adultery —pagan Rome’s favorite pastime — he might reject the child without so much as a glance. If the child were an “odious daughter” (the common Roman phrase for female offspring), he would likely turn on his heel and leave the room. If the child were “defective” in any way, he would do the same.
For the Romans, human life began when the child was accepted into society. A man did not “have a child.” He “took a child.” The father “raised up” the child by picking it up from the floor. Those non-persons who were left on the floor — while their mothers watched from a birthing chair — would be drowned immediately, or exposed to scavenging animals at the town dump.