Is God the Biggest Abortionist of All?

Why be pro-life if God allows babies to die in the womb all the time? If the pro-abortion movement is justified in characterizing God as an abortionist, certainly its opponents have a serious problem to consider.

Guercino God the Father

“God Is an Abortionist”: The Atheist View

Several major studies of pregnancy have revealed that one-fourth to one-third of all pregnancies end naturally after the mother is aware of her pregnancy, and many more occur before this time.

Many atheist celebrities have asserted that this high miscarriage rate is evidence that God either does not exist, or that He is cruel and capricious.  For example, Sam Harris writes:

Of course, the Church’s position on abortion takes no more notice of the details of biology than it does of the reality of human suffering.  It has been estimated that 50 percent of all human conceptions end in spontaneous abortion, usually without a woman even realizing that she was pregnant.  In fact, 20 percent of all recognized pregnancies end in miscarriage.  There is an obvious truth here that cries out for acknowledgment: If God exists, He is the most prolific abortionist of all.1

And Sherry Matulis, during her 1991 “Humanist Heroine Award” speech, snarled:

And although a rose is a rose is a rose, you will never hear anti-choice proponents raise their voices against spontaneous abortion.  You will never see them picket or march on Washington or take any other action to try to stop or even lessen this spontaneous “holocaust.”  And you will certainly never hear them decry their God with his big abortion mill in the sky for this wanton destruction of “innocent life” ― this “mass murder” of up to 80 percent of all those fertilized eggs they refer to as “unborn children.”  Because to discuss it ― to really examine its implications ― is to put the lie to all their mystical twaddle.2

pregnant woman with husband

Other famous atheist writers, including Richard Dawkins (author of The God Delusion) and Neil deGrasse Tyson, heir apparent to Carl Sagan, have made the same allegation.

It is apparent that these people, like many others, have fallen victim to an all-too-common malady: profound ignorance of the history and the teachings of the Catholic Church.  As far as the “details of biology” are concerned, priests led the development of many sciences, including biology, for centuries, and the Church currently has access to the expertise of the world’s most accomplished scientists in every field.  This means that her teachings are always consistent with science.  And the “reality of human suffering” has always been one of the Church’s primary concerns, as even a cursory examination of her writings will show.3

The theme of “God as Abortionist” is repeated endlessly on pro-abortion and atheist websites and blogs and is considered to be one of the primary proofs that either God does not exist, or that He does not care about us.

As I have written before, there is ample reason to believe that children who die before birth, whether through miscarriage or abortion, benefit just as much from the mercy of God as the rest of us.  This is congruent with the Church’s ancient teaching that even those who are not yet born are full members of the human family.  Even a person who lives to be a hundred years old soon realizes that the span of his or her life is but a blink of an eye compared to eternity, where we will have billions of years to contemplate each and every second we spent on earth.  For aborted or miscarried babies, an eternity with God ― without having to endure the inevitable suffering of their earthly lives beforehand ― must seem to them His greatest act of mercy.

Nevertheless, the question of whether God is an abortionist does not consider the eternal happiness of the unborn child but the goodness of God Himself.

Does God Cause Evil?

Of course, Harris and others who ask if God is an abortionist are missing the central point, which is the question of intent.

God’s permitting will is entirely separate from His ordaining will.  As St. Augustine said, “Nothing is done, unless the Almighty wills it to be done, either by permitting it, or by actually doing it.”

God’s ordaining, or “active” will, desires only what is good and holy, and directs us towards a life that is also good and holy.4  Examples of God’s ordaining will are the Ten Commandments, Our Lord’s Great Commandment to love one another, and the precepts of the Catholic Church.5

ten commandments stone tablets with rosebush

Unfortunately, man’s tendency to desire illicit things (concupiscience) and the temptations of the Devil frequently produce evil effects.  God’s permitting will allows this evil for His own purposes, as He attempts to draw good from everything.  According to St. Thomas Aquinas, “God therefore neither wills evil to be done, nor wills it not to be done, but wills to permit evil to be done; and this is a good.”

For those who wonder why God doesn’t “step in” and put a halt to terrible evils, from 9/11 to war to political and economic corruption, the answer is simple:  If He did so, Man would not be His supreme creation but His pet, protected from the consequences of his own actions.  This misunderstanding leads to people asking questions like “why do bad things happen to good people?”

In other words, miscarriages are merely permitted by God, not desired by Him.  By comparison, each act of abortion is usually desired by a number of people ― the mother herself (usually for social reasons), the boyfriend or husband, perhaps the grandparents and friends, and certainly the abortionist.

God wills each baby into existence in the first place.  Referring to Him as the “greatest abortionist” is as illogical as referring to the designers and builders of the original World Trade Center as terrorists.  Interestingly, the same people who criticize God for being an abortionist are usually generous in their praise for Planned Parenthood, which operates the largest chain of abortion mills in the Western Hemisphere.

Some people allege that evil occurrences (such as miscarriages) are evidence that either God does not exist, or does not measure up to our ideal of a “loving God.”  They generally reason as follows:  (1) Miscarriages are bad; (2) if a loving God exists, the percentage of miscarriages would be low; (3) but the percentage of miscarriages is actually high; (4) therefore a loving God does not exist.

August Berkshire is typical of those who cannot seem to understand the relationship between God and man and between good and evil.  He says, “Most religious people believe their god is all-powerful and all-good.  It naturally follows, then, that everything this god does must also be good.”  He then goes on to ask why evil ― including miscarriage ― exists in the world.6

But this “logic” could be used for any evil in the world.  Earthquakes and tsunamis?  “God does not love us.”  Fatal school bus crash?  “God is cruel.”  Thirty-year-old mother of three dying of cancer?  “God doesn’t care about us.”

therapist comforting woman, sad

The fact of the matter is that the greatest evil is sin, and God does not “micro-manage” our lives or sexuality.  He does not cause or prevent abortions.  He does not cause us to or prevent the transmission of sexually transmitted diseases.  And he does not compel us or prevent us from murdering, raping or torturing each other.  All of these evils spring from the mind of man alone.

Does God approve of sin?  Of course not.  He only permits it so that greater good may come out of it.  Similarly, God is not an abortionist.  He does not murder babies as real abortionists do; He only allows them to die. The moral difference between these two is not insignificant.


In the final analysis, the human brain is simply not equipped to understand all of God’s will, any more than it can fully grasp the concepts of “eternity” or “infinity.”  If we could completely understand God’s plans for us, He would not be God, or at least not a god worth worshipping.  We can, however, know one thing: He has our best interests at heart, and we will completely understand His plans for us soon enough.

+ Endnotes

[1] Sam Harris, “Letter to a Christian Nation.”

[2] Sherry Matulis.  “Why Abortion Must Remain the Law of the Land.”  The Humanist, July/August 1992, pages 35 to 37 and 49.  Extracted from her 1991 “Humanist Heroine Award” speech.

[3] See, for example, Pope John Paul II’s 1984 Apostolic Letter Salvifici Doloris (“On the Christian Meaning of Human Suffering”), a detailed and readable summary and analysis of the topic.

[4] Mother Angelica.  “Two Wills ― His and Mine.”

[5] The six historical precepts of the Catholic Church are (1) to attend Mass on Sundays and Holy Days of Obligation, and to rest from servile works; (2) to observe the days of abstinence and fasting; (3) to confess our sins to a priest at least once a year; (4) to receive Our Lord Jesus Christ in the Holy Eucharist at least once a year during Easter Season; (5) to contribute to the support of the Church; and (6) to obey the laws of the Church concerning Matrimony.

[6] August Berkshire.  “God and Abortion.”  2012 pamphlet available on his website at

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.


  1. Katheryn Gallant on October 1, 2020 at 4:52 PM

    I am a practicing Catholic who is active in my parish and tries to be conscientious about my faith. However, I believe that there is no significant moral difference between killing and allowing someone to die. God’s permissive will horrifies and scandalizes me: it leads me to question God’s benevolence. (A God Whom I consider good would not have allowed the serpent in the Garden of Eden in the first place. Also, I find the Book of Job to be jarring and its portrayal of God unflattering, to say the least.) Also, I question whether people truly have free will. Often it seems to me that free will is an illusion. I wish we were God’s pets! Most people treat their pets better than God allows people to be treated. I confess this line of thought every month or so to a priest, but I have not yet received an answer that I find satisfactory.

    • Daniel Tsui on October 8, 2022 at 12:39 AM

      You have spoken with more wisdom and compassion in ten lines than Clowes’s entire article which simply repeated the same old and tired sermonizing.

      Daniel Tsui

      • HLI Staff on October 10, 2022 at 2:46 PM

        Dear Daniel,

        Now war arose in heaven, Michael and his angels fighting against the dragon; and the dragon and his angels fought, but they were defeated and there was no longer any place for them in heaven. And the great dragon was thrown down, that ancient serpent, who is called the Devil and Satan, the deceiver of the whole world—he was thrown down to the earth, and his angels were thrown down with him. And I heard a loud voice in heaven, saying, “Now the salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God and the authority of his Christ have come, for the accuser of our brethren has been thrown down, who accuses them day and night before our God (Rev 12:7-10).

        Who is a God like thee, pardoning iniquity and passing over transgression for the remnant of his inheritance? (Micah 7:18)

        Who is like the Lord our God, who is seated on high? (Psalm 113:5)

        Thou who hast done great things, O God, who is like thee? (Psalm 71:19)

        Who is like thee, O Lord, among the gods? Who is like thee, majestic in holiness, terrible in glorious deeds, doing wonders? (Exodus 15:11)

        The fallen intellect in man doubts God’s existence, his essence, his goodness, his omnipotence, his providence–and everything else concerning the nature of God. Wisdom does not doubt. The intellect seeks satisfaction. Wisdom does not seek satisfaction. The human intellect wishes to know. Ultimately, the intellect, which was made by God for God, wishes to know God. Surely it is a good thing to seek to know God. But there are mysteries surrounding God. Who can know the God who made the stars and set the planets in motion? Yet he became man to draw us near to himself, so anxious was he for the return of our love.

        God’s permissive will falls under the teaching of the Catholic Church called Predestination. It is a hard subject; St. Francis Xavier (I think it was he), upon hearing of it, fell so ill that he took to his bed for many months. Many saints did not think that it should be taught, because an impartial explanation or a misunderstood one–could gravely harm the soul of the one who hears it, as they will doubt and despair. But many other saints thought it should be taught day and night from every pulpit, to try and get across the beauty and truth of the teaching understood. In short, God MUST allow evil to exist, for a time, because if he did not, we would not be free beings. We would be just animals, pets if you will. But the difference between a pet and a man is that the man knows that he is loved and chooses to love in return. No pet knows or choses anything. God loved us into being and wishes to be loved in return. That is all he wants from us–not blind obedience like a good dog, but the love of a friend, who seeks the good for the other to the point of death.

        The best explanation (of which I am aware) for the doctrine of Predestination is written by Fr. Reginald Garrigou-Lagrange, O.P., called: Predestination. The sequel to the book is called: Providence. They are translated into English by Dom Bede Rose, O.S.B., D.D. by TAN Books and Publishers, Inc.: Rockford, Illinois; 1998.

        I recommend the books. I attended a 6-week seminar on this doctrine. I would advise being in it for the long haul to ensure that you not only possess the beginning of this wonderful and mysterious doctrine, but a middle and end.

        God bless you!

  2. Michael Napoli on October 1, 2020 at 1:41 PM

    To me this argument is disingenuous. Attempts to justify and pinpoint when a human receives its soul is tragic and flawed. We need to own up to the truth that if no interventions were performed each pregnancy will result in a live birth. On the matter of miscarriages and naturally occurring losses are not evil, it just so happens to be part of living apart, having been separated from God due to sin. Our journey back to paradise and reunification with The Eternal God is based on our acceptance and sometimes enduring tremendous sufferings. We need to rely on God to enlighten us because in all reality we are not very smart compared to God.

  3. John Cena JR. on September 21, 2020 at 5:16 AM

    A fertilized egg is not instantly a human soul like the anti-choice crowd believes. If it were true then God would be aborting billions.

    • Tony Laux on October 1, 2020 at 1:12 PM

      If it has life, it has a soul. That’s the philosophical understanding since Aristotle. Developing humans like my toddler or unborn child have human souls, and when the organ of the brain allows it, they will be able to communicate rationally.

      I hope we are all proudly anti-bad choices and debate charitablt on what bad choices should be outlawed.

      Did you read the article in full?

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