What Does the Bible Say about Abortion?

What Does the Bible Say about Abortion?

By |2020-06-09T10:31:04-04:00June 5th, 2020|Categories: Abortion, The Church on Abortion|Tags: , , , |

the holy bible

Pro-abortionists sometimes claim that there is nothing forbidding abortion in the Bible.  For example:

  • Ex-priest Daniel C. Maguire says, “There has been no systematic thinking in Jewish Christian tradition on abortion.  There is nothing in the Bible on it.”1
  • Roy Bowen Ward, Professor Emeritus of Comparative Religion at Miami University of Ohio, writes, “One thing the Bible does not say is ‘Thou shalt not abort.’”2
  • Mark Bigelow, a member of Planned Parenthood’s Clergy Advisory Board, writes, “One thing I know from the Bible is that Jesus was not against women having a choice in continuing a pregnancy.  He never said a word about abortion (nor did anyone else in the Bible) even though abortion was available and in use in his time.”3

What are pro-life Christians to make of the “Bible and abortion” argument?

The Argument Doesn’t Hold

The statement that abortion is not explicitly mentioned in the Bible is technically correct.  However, this allegation falls prey to the logical fallacy of assuming that because an act is not mentioned in Scripture, the Bible therefore approves of that act.  After all, Scripture does not specifically condemn many other evils, such as pyramid schemes, terrorism, carjacking and kidnapping.  Does this mean that Christians should not oppose these evil acts either?

The “Bible and abortion” argument is a mere diversion, like all of the other pro-abortion slogans.  Some people mock Christians who look to the Bible for moral direction, claiming that people should not need the Bible in order to know that certain acts, such as murder and stealing, are wrong.  Of course they are half-right ― these sins are against the law of nature and nature’s God, so they are unjustified by any means.  But we can also extend such reasoning to include abortion.  Christians do not need the Bible to tell us that abortion is wrong, because science concludes without a shadow of a doubt that the preborn child is a human being and reasonable people can agree that it is wrong to kill innocent human beings.

Yes, it is true that the Bible does not mention abortion. So what?

Abortion has always been more of a scientific question than a religious one.

lab-doctor-medicine-engineering-laboratory-scientific

It would not occur to many pro-abortionists that Christians might oppose abortion for other than Biblical reasons.  They frequently allege that Christians have no use for science, yet they utterly ignore science themselves in their mad rush to defend abortion at any time in pregnancy (and beyond, in some cases).  They ignore all evidence proving the existence of fetal pain, they are profoundly and willfully ignorant of fetal development, and they simply ridicule post-abortion syndrome and the abortion-breast cancer link.  This is why pro-abortionists have such difficulties when they are confronted with atheist or agnostic pro-lifers who argue solely from the scientific point of view.4

Pro-abortionists generally base their opinions on neither science nor religion, but mere feelings.  As MSNBC host Melissa Harris-Perry said: “When does life begin?  I submit the answer depends an awful lot on the feeling of the parents.”5  And, when asked what a preborn baby feels when it is being killed by abortion, abortionist Michael Ballard replied, “Oh, I think that depends on your philosophy.”5

In other words, abortion advocates only use both theology and science as weapons, not in a genuine and honest search for the truth. Their appeals to the Bible are irrelevant to an honest, scientific discussion of the case against abortion.

The Bible and Abortion

Even so, pro-lifers can easily point to the Bible to support their position.

There are many sins that the Bible condemns implicitly, or indirectly.  For instance, the commandment “thou shalt not kill” certainly applies to sins such as serial killing, terrorism and the indiscriminate bombing of civilians during warfare, though these are not specifically mentioned in the Bible.  How, then, may we know that the Bible indirectly condemns abortion?

  1. To begin with, the Bible repeatedly condemns the killing of the innocent, i.e., the sinless (Jeremiah 7:6 and 22:17, Psalm 106:37-38, Proverbs 6:16-19, Isaiah 53:6, Luke 17:2 and Matthew 18:10,14).6  A preborn child is obviously innocent of any crime or actual sin, because he or she cannot possess the intent of doing evil.  Pro-abortionists sometimes justify abortion by casting the preborn child in the role of an “aggressor.”  This is illogical, because aggression requires conscious intent.
  2. Second, the Bible teaches that human life, created and nurtured by God, is present in the womb of the woman from the very beginning.
    • Psalm 139:13,15 praises God:  “For thou didst form my inward parts, thou didst knit me together in my mother’s womb….my frame was not hidden from thee, when I was being made in secret, intricately wrought in the depths of the earth.”
    • Furthermore, God personally named and honored seven men before they were even born.  Only persons merit names.  These seven are Ishmael (Genesis 16:11); Isaac (Genesis 17:19); Josiah (1 Kings 13:2); Solomon (1 Chronicles 22:9); Jeremiah (Jeremiah 1:5); John the Baptist (Luke 1:13); and Jesus Himself (Matthew 1:21).7
  3. Third, all authentically religious people agree that God opens and shuts the womb and infuses the human body with a soul.  There are more than a dozen Biblical references referring to this.8  This means that God certainly intended to create a human life, and we have no right to interfere with His will regarding its creation.  God does not act randomly or without reason, despite what some abortion advocates allege.9  He creates every child for a purpose.  Psalm 127 specifically refers to children as a “gift of the Lord” and as a “reward.”  We do not have the right to disrupt or destroy His plans.  Abortion is a supremely arrogant act because it imposes a creature’s will over God’s.  Is this not the definition of all sin ― stubbornly refusing to do God’s will for our lives?
  4. Finally, God is not inconsistent.  He has loved us all with an infinite love for all eternity ― long before we were even conceived.  He has said to us, “I have loved thee with an everlasting love” (Jeremiah 31:3).  If He values men He named, He values all of his created preborn human beings.
fetus human baby in womb unborn child, the bible and abortion

Image courtesy of www.MedicalGraphics.de (CC BY-ND 4.0)

The conclusion is inescapable.  The Bible condemns the killing of the innocent; preborn children are innocent; and human life is present from fertilization, as willed by God.  Therefore the Bible also condemns the killing of preborn children.

No other honest or logical conclusion is possible.

The Hypocrisy of Pro-Abortionists

Pro-abortion “Christians” do not really believe in the Bible, and there is an easy way to demonstrate this.

  • Pro-lifers can admit that the Bible does not mention abortion.  But then we can ask the pro-abortionists what they think about divorce, which is condemned in the Bible many times.  Our Lord Himself said, “But I say to you that everyone who divorces his wife, except on the ground of unchastity, makes her an adulteress; and whoever marries a divorced woman commits adultery” (Matthew 5:31-32, see also Matthew 19:3 9, Luke 16:18 and 1 Corinthians 7:10 15).
  • And what about fornication?  The Gospels and the New Testament condemn fornication more than a dozen times (see Matthew 5:32 and 19:9, John 8:41, Acts 15:20,29 and 21:25, Romans 1:29, 1 Corinthians 5:1, 6:13,18, 7:2 and 10:8, 2 Corinthians 12:21, Galatians 5:19, Ephesians 5:3, Colossians 3:5, 1 Thessalonians 4:3, Jude 1:7, and Revelation 2:14,20-21, 9:21, 14:8, 17:2,4, 18:3,9, and 19:2).  Ask the pro-abortionist what the Bible says about premarital sex and watch them squirm.  If they try to explain these many verses away (which always requires spectacular and entertaining theological gymnastics), then you can press them to say that they do not really care what the Bible says unless it supports their viewpoint.
  • The Bible repeatedly and forcefully condemns other sexual sins such as homosexual activity and adultery, yet pro-abortionists tolerate and even embrace these as “basic human rights.”10  For example, in spite of more than fifty Biblical passages denouncing these sins, Frances Kissling casually stated, “I really think God cares very little about the sexual rules, about who is sleeping with whom, other than to wish that we treat each other well and with respect.”11

This is a Biblical proof that they are acting in a hypocritical manner by trying to give the impression that they are believing Christians when they really are not.

man holding bible

Conclusion

Evidently, even if Our Lord Himself had specifically condemned abortion in the strongest possible terms, it would make not the slightest particle of difference to so-called “religious” pro-abortionists, which means in turn that the “Bible and abortion” argument is a mere diversion, not a serious theological discussion.

In conclusion, there is no phrase in the Bible remotely approaching the phrases “freedom of choice,” “woman’s body, woman’s choice,” “plan your family,” “use your conscience,” or any of the other popular pro-abortion slogans.

There is, however, the phrase “choose life, therefore, that you and your descendants may live” (Deuteronomy 30:19).

 

Endnotes

[1] Daniel C. Maguire, quoted in Janice Hughes.  “The Catholic Constituency:  What Church Leaders Don’t Tell Congress.”  Conscience, May/June 1988, pages 2 and 10.

[2] Roy Bowen Ward.  “Is the Fetus a Person?  The Bible’s View.”  Mission Journal, January 1986.

[3] Mark Bigelow, letter to Bill O’Reilly of Fox News, November 22, 2002.

[4] See the website of the Atheist and Agnostic Pro-Life League (AAPL).

[5] Interview of abortionist Michael Ballard by Mike Levy.  Triumph Magazine, March 1972, pages 20 to 23 and 44.  Quoted in Donald DeMarco.  Abortion in Perspective.  Hayes Publishing Company, 1974.

[6] The Bible specifically condemns child sacrifice in Leviticus 20:2‑5; Leviticus 18:21; 2 Kings 23:10; and Jeremiah 32:35.  Also see Deuteronomy 27:25 and 30:19; Amos 1:13; Jeremiah 7:6 and 22:17; Psalm 106:37‑38; Proverbs 6:16‑19; Isaiah 53:6; Luke 17:2; and Matthew 18:10,14.

[7] See especially Psalm 139:13‑16; Isaiah 44:24 and 64:8; and Jeremiah 1:5.  Additionally, St. Paul rejoices that God “set me apart before I was born” (Galatians 1:15).

[8] See specifically Genesis 29:31; 30:2,22; 49:25; 1 Samuel 1:5; Job 31:15; Psalm 139:13; Isaiah 44:2,24; 49:1,5; 66:9; Jeremiah 1:5; Luke 1:15;41‑44; Wisdom 7:1; and Sirach 49:7.

[9] A CFFC pamphlet entitled “Did You Know that Most Catholics Believe in Reproductive Freedom?” states, “We believe that women should not be the victims of random fertility” [as if pregnancy bears no relation whatever to sexual activity]. “The Catholic hierarchy is trapped in an outdated authoritarianism which denies full equality to women and regards sex as evil.”

Marjorie Reiley Maguire has said, “The voice of the officers of the Catholic Church on reproductive matters speaks to me of a materialistic God…whose greatest joy comes from playing cruel reproductive tricks on women and watching them squirm” (Marjorie Maguire, quoted in Phyllis Zagano.  “The Limits of Choice.”  National Catholic Register, October 12, 1986).

[10] Homosexual activity:  See Deuteronomy 23:17; 1 Kings 14:24, 15:12, 22:46; and 2 Kings 23:7.

Divorce:  See Matthew 5:31‑32, 19:3‑9; Luke 16:18; and 1 Corinthians 7:10‑15.

Fornication:  See 2 Chronicles 21:11; Isaiah 23:17; Ezekiel 16:26,29; Matthew 5:32, 19:9; John 8:41; Acts 15:20,29, 21:25; Romans 1:29; 1 Corinthians 5:1, 6:13,18, 7:2, 10:8; 2 Corinthians 12:21; Galatians 5:19; Ephesians 5:3; Colossians 3:5; 1 Thessalonians 4:3; Jude 1:7; and Revelation 2:14,20‑21, 9:21, 14:8, 17:2,4, 18:3,9, and 19:2.

Adultery:  See Exodus 20:14; Leviticus 18:20, 19:20, 20:10‑12; Deuteronomy 5:18, 22:13‑29, 27:20, 27:23; Proverbs 6:26, 6:29, 6:32; Matthew 5:27,28,32, 15:19, 19:9,18; Mark 7:21, 10:11‑12,19; Luke 16:18, 18:20; John 8:4‑11, Romans 7:3, 13:9, 1 Corinthians 6:9; Galatians 5:19; Ephesians 5:5; and Hebrews 13:4.

[11] Frances Kissling.  “Divine Ecstasy:  Sin, Asceticism and Sexuality in the Catholic Tradition.”  Nerve.com’s March 30, 1999 interview of cultural critic Camille Paglia, ex‑priests Robert Francouer and Thomas Moore, religion professor Elaine Pagels, and Frances Kissling.

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About the Author:

Brian Clowes, PhD
Dr. Brian Clowes has been HLI’s director of research since 1995 and is one of the most accomplished and respected intellectuals in the international pro-life movement. Best known as author of the most exhaustive pro-life informational resource volume The Facts of Life, and for his Pro-Life Basic Training Course, Brian is the author of nine books and over 500 scholarly and popular articles, and has traveled to 70 countries on six continents as a pro-life speaker, educator and trainer.

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