The Bible and Abortion

Abortion is never specifically mentioned in the Bible. This has not stopped the Bible being used to both condemn and oppose abortion.
  • The Bible teaches that God is the Author of Life and that death came into the world as a direct result of sin.
  • Children are seen as a gift from God and a blessing.
  • God is seen to have a personal relationship with the unborn.
  • One of the major reasons given for the destruction of Israel by the Assyrians was this sin of child sacrifice.
  • Having a God-given right to kill their offspring would have been utterly foreign to the Hebrew culture of that day.
The Bible has been used by those opposed to abortion to condemn it. It is also at times quoted in an effort to justify abortion.

In 1995 President Bill Clinton said that the Bible was ambiguous about abortion, and that church history was largely silent on the issue. It was argued that nowhere in church history is abortion condemned until "the religious right began forcing its views on the public around 1980."

Clinton was correct about one thing; the word abortion is not mentioned in the Bible. He was wrong however if he was trying to imply that Christians had no biblical case to oppose abortion. He was also wrong about church history, as early Christian writers did quite clearly condemn abortion.

There are a number of things that the Bible and early Christian writers do not specifically condemn but that is not to say that a case cannot be made from what is implicit. In the case of abortion it comes down to whether or not the foetus is a person. If the Bible treats the foetus as a person, then the command condemning the unjustified killing of an innocent person applies.

The Bible teaches that God is the Author of Life and that death came into the world as a direct result of sin. Romans 5;21 teaches that "That as sin hath reigned to death; so also grace might reign by justice unto life everlasting, through Jesus Christ our Lord" and 6:23 "For the wages of sin is death."

Deuteronomy 30:19--"Today I have set before you life and death, blessings and cursings. Now choose Life, so that you and your children may live".

Children were seen as a gift from God--the highest possible blessing (Psalms 113:9, Gen. 17:6, 33:5, etc.)

"Truly children are a gift from the Lord; the fruit of the womb is a reward" (Psalm 127:3).

The Bible teaches that human life is different from other types of life, because human beings are made in the image and likeness of God.
The Bible teaches that human life is different from other types of life, because human beings are made in the image and likeness of God. "God created man in his image; in the divine image he created him; male and female he created them" (Genesis 1:27).

James 3:9-10 admonishes his readers that this fact: that we are made in the image of God, means we should not even curse others. That is the high regard Scripture puts on human beings.

In Psalm 8:5-7 the psalmist says: "Lord, what is man that you care for him, mortal man that you keep him in mind? ... With glory and honour you crowned him, giving him power over the works of your hands."

In the book of Genesis 4:1, when Eve gave birth she exclaimed: "I have brought forth a man with the help of the Lord." She was acknowledging God's dominion over human life and that parents cooperate with God in the procreation of new life. The prophet Amos condemns the Ammonites "because they ripped open expectant mothers in Gilead" (Amos 1:13).

The phrase "conceived and bore" is used repeatedly (see Genesis 4:1,17) and the individual has the same identity before as after birth. "In sin my mother conceived me," the repentant psalmist says in Psalm 51:7. The same word is used for the child before and after birth (Brephos, that is, "infant," is used in Luke 1:41 and Luke 18:15.)

"You knit me in my mother's womb . . . nor was my frame unknown to you when I was made in secret"
God knows the unborn child. "You knit me in my mother's womb . . . nor was my frame unknown to you when I was made in secret" (Ps 139:13,15). God also helps and calls the unborn child. "You have been my guide since I was first formed . . . from my mother's womb you are my God" (Ps 22:10-11). "God... from my mother's womb had set me apart and called me through his grace" (St. Paul to the Galatians 1:15).

When the Israelites settled in the Promised Land, some of them adopted the custom of child sacrifice that had been practised by those they conquered. "They mingled with the nations and learned their works...They sacrificed their sons and their daughters to demons, and they shed innocent blood, the blood of their sons and their daughters, whom they sacrificed to the idols of Canaan, desecrating the land with bloodshed" (Psalm 106:35, 37-38).

In 2 Kings 17:17-18), one of the major reasons given for the destruction of Israel by the Assyrians was this sin of child sacrifice.

"Be merciful as your heavenly Father is merciful" (Luke 6:36). "Go and do likewise" (Luke 10:37). "Do unto others as you would have them do to you" (Matthew 7:12). "Love one another" (John 15:17).

[Justice] is what leads "pro-lifers" not only to condemn abortion but to work hard to eliminate it from society.
The Bible teaches that God is a "God of Justice." If God does justice for His people, He expects His people to do justice for one another. That expectation would be what leads "pro-lifers" not only to condemn abortion but to work hard to eliminate it from society.

As Scott Klusendorf, Director of Bio-Ethics at Stand to Reason, puts it:"It is important to interpret Scripture within its own intellectual and cultural framework without reading into it a foreign world-view. The idea that the absence of a direct prohibition meant that women had a God-given right to kill their offspring would have been utterly foreign to the Hebrew culture of that day for the reasons cited above."