Some abortion rights proponents actually concede that the fetus is a person and argue that women should still have the right to abortion. But if the fetus is a person, one can make the argument that the unborn child actually has a claim on the mother's body, analogous to a one-year-old child having a claim on her parents for the necessities of life.

In view of this, abortion would be permissible in the rare occurrences in which the mother's life is in danger from the pregnancy. The reason for this is not that the mother is more of a person than her unborn child, but because in most cases, if the mother dies, the fetus will die too. Thus it is morally acceptable to treat the mother and hope for the best for the fetus. One can understand the desire to end a pregnancy that has come about as a result of rape/incest. But most evangelicals would argue that a second act of violence is not justified by the prior one, and would urge the woman to put the baby up for adoption should she not want to keep the child.

In the view of most evangelicals, the law should reflect these perspectives because there are fundamental civil rights at stake, namely the right to life of living human persons. That view is theologically grounded but can be argued persuasively on philosophical grounds that are independent of one's theology, and thus can be the basis for laws restricting abortion.

Dr. Scott Rae is professor of religion and ethics at Talbot School of Theology, the seminary of Biola University. Professor Rae's primary interests are medical ethics and business ethics, dealing with the application of Christian ethics to medicine and the marketplace. He has authored six books in ethics including The Ethics of Commercial Surrogate Motherhood and Brave New Families: Biblical Ethics and Reproductive Technologies. He is a consultant for ethics for four Southern California hospitals. He is a fellow of the Center for Bioethics and Human Dignity.