However we may pity the mother whose health and even life
is imperiled by the performance of her natural duty,
there yet remains no sufficient reason for condoning the direct murder of the innocent.
- Pope Pius XI
In 1973 the United States Supreme Court in Roe v. Wade struck down a Texas statute that prohibited all abortions except to save a mothers life. The decision ruled that a state may not regulate abortion in the first three months of pregnancy. The state may regulate abortion during the second three months only for the protection of the woman's health. The state may prohibit abortion during the third trimester to protect fetal life.
The timetable was based on a medical determination of when a fetus becomes viable. That is, a fetus does not have legal personhood until it can live on its own without the umbilical cord. Those who argue against abortion call it murder, saying that an egg becomes a new person at the moment it is fertilized.
The Bible has nothing to say on abortion. Considering its antiquity, there was no knowledge of human anatomy and how reproduction worked. There was always the risk of miscarriages, but I suspect that induced abortions were extremely rare if they existed. But since anti-abortionists are fond of quoting out of Scripture as if God hates abortion, it is only fair examine in detail. The conclusion in this report is that God has no objection to abortion. The anti-abortionists have disingenuously taken him out of context.
When does life begin?
The key to defining to personhood comes from Genesis 2:7 when God gave Adam life by breathing into him. Adam had a fully formed body at the time.
While we know now that breathing is a bodily function; a body has to initiate the first breath of air. The biblical understanding has it reversed: God initiates the first breath. Breathing is synonymous with soul and spirit. The Hebrew and Greek translations tell the story.
The Spirit of God moved over the face of the waters. -The Hebrew for "spirit" is rauch, which means wind or breath.
She died when her soul departed. -The word "soul" is also synonymous with breathe. The Hebrew translation comes from nephesh meaning breathing creature.
Jesus warns to fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell. -The Greek word for soul is psuche, meaning breath.
28And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul; rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell. (Matt. 10:28)
Jesus warns that blasphemy against the Spirit will not be forgiven. -Greek for spirit is pneuma, meaning a current of air.
31Therefore I tell you, every sin and blasphemy will be forgiven men, but the blasphemy against the Spirit will not be forgiven. (Matt. 12:31)
In conclusion, according to the biblical definition of soul and spirit, a non-breathing fetus is not a living person. It doesn't become a person until it comes out of the womb and breathes on its own. We could argue that whether by miscarriage or by abortion, God decides whether he wants to initiate that first breathe. A Christian might say, "God works in mysterious ways."
Anti-abortionists commonly call a fetus a baby, and then condemn abortion as "baby killing." From that leap they quote out of the Bible as if the Bible unanimously condemns baby killing. This sampling shows that the Bible has at times encouraged baby killing.
3(1 Sam. 15:3)
12(2 Kings 8:12)
16(2 Kings 15:16)
12 (Psalm 109:8-12)
29For behold, the days are coming when they will say, 'Blessed are the barren, and the wombs that never bore, and the breasts that never gave suck!' (Luke 23:29)
These passages show no moral concern for bring a fetus to full term. Some make the case that the quality of life is as important, if not more important, than being born.
Built into the Christian definition of original sin is when God cursed women to multiply their pain. If this was true, it doesn't supply much incentive to bring a fetus to full term. Though it empowers the husband to dictate whether or not the mother may be allowed to abort her fetus no matter what her wishes and the danger to her life, it doesn't apply to unwed fathers.
16"I will greatly multiply your pain in childbearing; in pain you shall bring forth children, yet your desire shall be for your husband, and he shall rule over you." (Gen. 3:16)
Sarai's lament could be interpreted to mean that either God has prevented her from conceiving a baby or from carrying to full term.
If two men are fighting and hurt a pregnant woman so to cause a miscarriage, the perpetrator is only fined for causing an abortion. But if he harms the mother, he will be punished equivalent to the harm done.
23 24 25 (Ex. 21:22-25)
To see the misery of the oppressed makes one think that it is better to be dead. Better yet, it is better to not be born.
3 (Ecc. 4:1-3)
If a man cannot enjoy life's good things, he is better off having not been born.
5 (Ecc. 6:3-5)
The passages used to denounce abortion are taken out of context and quoted as doctrine. It is a given that, according to Christian theology, God knows an egg from the time it is fertilized. To know a fetus is one thing. What its fate shall be is something else.
Sometimes the Sixth Commandment against killing is used as an argument against abortion; but the command is so categorical that it is meaningless. Besides, the Bible has dozens laws within the Ten Commandments that advocate killing.
When Job was suffering he found hope that God, by granting him life, loves him enough to preserve his spirit. Job was an adult. The passage is irrelevant.
12 (Job 10:8-12)
Indeed, in the same chapter the suffering Job wonders why he was brought from the womb.
19 (Job 10:18-19)
This Psalm of David was written by an adult. It is irrelevant.
11 (Psalm 22:10-11)
This passage is wrongfully construed as if it comes from the thoughts of a baby in its mother's womb. Obviously it was written by an adult.
16 (Psalm 139:13-16)
Isaiah tells us he was called from the womb. To apply this verse categorically is disingenuous.
Jeremiah 1:5 is quoted as shown below as if to imply every fetus is consecrated, therefore sacred.
In context, Jeremiah alone was consecrated by God to be a prophet to the nations.
9 Jer. 1:4-9)
Below, the leaping baby suggests personhood. It's meaningless. As fetuses mature into fully formed babies they move somewhat. This is consistent with the Supreme Court ruling.
Elizabeth heard the greeting of Mary, the babe leaped in her womb; and
Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit
42and she exclaimed with a loud cry, "Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb! (Luke 1:41-42)
This verse asks a question. The choice is up to the mother consistent with the Supreme Court ruling.
Christianity glorifies the sacrifice an innocent man so the guilty can have life. It's kind of ironic when Christian anti-abortionists complain rhetorically about killing innocent babies.