Early Christians considered abortion to be worse than other murder. Not only was the baby deprived of life on earth, but without baptism he was thought to be deprived of Heaven. (Today the Church offers hope that through Our Lord's infinite mercy aborted babies, although deprived of baptism, may enter Heaven.) Consequently, in the early centuries of the Church, when penances were long and severe, lifetime penance was assigned to those guilty of abortion or infanticide. In fact, throughout the Middle Ages and up to the present time, absolution for abortion has been reserved under canon law to the bishop, though in recent times most bishops have extended that privilege to their priests.