Does the Bible Have Anything to Say About Abortion?
All References: New American Standard Bible (Lockman Foundation: La Habra, CA 1995)
I recently received this email from a friend*:
“My secretary is a very wonderful Christian sister. Her daughter is 37 and pregnant and she is considering having an abortion. Unfortunately her daughter talked with an uninformed person who said the Bible doesn’t address the topic of abortion.”
I fired off this response without much editing and found out the next day that this simple Biblical defense against abortion, along with accurate pictures of abortion and the mother’s persistent expression of concern, persuaded the 37 year-old not to abort her child.
The Bible does address abortion as directly as it addresses the killing of toddlers. Neither is specifically mentioned, but it is clear from the following passages that human beings are made with a special dignity as part of their nature.
“Then God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; and let them rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over the cattle and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.” (v. 27) God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them. God blessed them; and God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth, and subdue it; and rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over every living thing that moves on the earth.”
Gen. 9: 6-7
‘Whoever sheds man’s blood, By man his blood shall be shed, For in the image of God He made man.
‘As for you, be fruitful and multiply;
Populate the earth abundantly and multiply in it.’ ”
“But no one can tame the tongue; it is a restless evil and full of deadly poison. With it we bless our Lord and Father, and with it we curse men, who have been made in the likeness of God; from the same mouth come both blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not to be this way.”
And if our dignity is part of our nature, we have that dignity from the moment we begin to exist. And because it is clear scientifically that there is no essential change in the human organism from conception to natural death, the unborn must also have the same dignity we ourselves have.
So, Scripture does directly deal with abortion in the sense that abortion kills an innocent human being (if anyone questions whether abortion kills, they should consult abortion photos at http://www.abort73.com) and killing an innocent human being is seriously wrong no matter the stage of development, degree of dependency, or appearance of the child. Because the unborn is a human being (see “No One Knows When Life Begins” for a simple defense of the humanity of the unborn, or see “Cure Me Even If You Kill?”), all of the verses in the Old and New Testaments condemning the shedding of innocent blood and commanding us to protect the weak apply also to the unborn:
“You shall not murder.”
“You shall not pervert the justice due to your needy brother in his dispute.
“Keep far from a false charge, and do not kill the innocent or the righteous, for I will not acquit the guilty.
“You shall not take a bribe, for a bribe blinds the clear-sighted and subverts the cause of the just.
“Do this so that innocent blood will not be shed in your land, which the LORD your God is giving you as your inheritance, and so that you will not be guilty of bloodshed. But if a man hates his neighbor and lies in wait for him, assaults and kills him, and then flees to one of these cities, the elders of his town shall send for him, bring him back from the city, and hand him over to the avenger of blood to die. Show him no pity. You must purge from Israel the guilt of shedding innocent blood, so that it may go well with you.”
“If you are slack in the day of distress, Your strength is limited. Deliver those who are being taken away to death, And those who are staggering to slaughter, Oh hold them back. If you say, “See, we did not know this,” Does He not consider it who weighs the hearts? And does He not know it who keeps your soul? And will He not render to man according to his work?”
“There are six things which the LORD hates, Yes, seven which are an abomination to Him: Haughty eyes, a lying tongue, And hands that shed innocent blood, A heart that devises wicked plans, Feet that run rapidly to evil, A false witness who utters lies, And one who spreads strife among brothers.”
“Open your mouth for the mute, For the rights of all the unfortunate. Open your mouth, judge righteously, And defend the rights of the afflicted and needy.”
“And someone came to Him and said, “Teacher, what good thing shall I do that I may obtain eternal life?” And He said to him, “Why are you asking Me about what is good? There is only One who is good; but if you wish to enter into life, keep the commandments.” Then he said to Him, “Which ones?” And Jesus said, “You shall not commit murder; You shall not commit adultery; You shall not steal; You shall not bear false witness; Honor your father and mother; and You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”
“Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”
Sometimes abortion advocates point to Exodus 21:22, saying it directly supports abortion. To see why the verse is actually a defense of the pro-life position, see Greg Koukl’s excellent article, “What Exodus 21:22 Says About Abortion.” See also Scott Klusendorf’s “Dead Silence” for an incisive treatment of the Exodus passage as well as a response to the argument from Biblical silence on abortion.