New on AlterNet: Abortion in the Bible

My latest column is now up on AlterNet, There’s Nothing About Abortion in the Bible — So How Do Right-Wing Christians Justify Their Crusade Against Women? In it, I discuss the biblical verses that touch on abortion – or more accurately, the lack of such verses – as well as the passages which strongly suggest that the Bible’s authors didn’t consider an unborn fetus to have the same moral status as an adult person. Read the excerpt below, then click through to see the rest:

One would think the drubbing taken by anti-choice zealots like Todd Akin in the last election would have given Republicans an incentive to step back and consider whether this is a winning strategy. Instead, it seems as if their losses have only inspired them to fight harder. For the right-wing Christian fundamentalists who dominate the Republican Party, banning abortion, or at least piling up pointless regulations to make it as burdensome and difficult to obtain as possible, has become an all-consuming obsession, akin to a religious crusade.

Given the amount of effort and political capital the religious right puts into trying to restrict abortion, you’d guess that opposition to women’s choice must take up a huge portion of the Bible. But the reality is that nothing could be further from the truth.

Continue reading on AlterNet…

Bangladesh Is Killing Atheists
Weekend Coffee: February 22
Atlas Shrugged: Hobo Sign
Thoughts on the Chapel Hill Shooting
About Adam Lee

Adam Lee is an atheist writer and speaker living in New York City. His new novel, City of Light, is available in paperback and e-book. Read his full bio, or follow him on Twitter.

  • Tommykey69

    Without having read the article, I would say their short answer would be that abortion is murder, and that murder is a sin, therefore the Bible doesn’t have to specifically prohibit abortion if it does specifically prohibit murder.

  • Bdole

    It’s still incumbent on believers to show that abortion really is murder by biblical standards. After all, genocide seems to be A-OK, so clearly there are some oil-tanker sized loopholes in the prohibition against murder.

  • Ohtobide

    The teaching that abortion is necessarily murder or ‘the moral equivalent of murder’ is actually quite recent. Aquinas, for instance, did not think so. He taught that the human rational soul does not enter the fetus until well into the second trimester. Of course, he still thought abortion at any time was a serious sin, but not murder. Nowadays anti-abortionists tend to assume that Christians have always thought of abortion as murder but that is not true.

  • Ohtobide

    I have one problem with your article. You say that ‘a rape victim may be stoned to death if she doesn’t scream loudly enough’. Surely the point here is that if she does not scream for help she is not a rape victim. I have heard similar arguments in rape trials in this century.

    Of course it is still monstrous that she and the man should be stoned to death and I think you understand the point since you say ‘if the woman willingly participated you might even have the right to kill her’ but, in fairness, you should not describe her as a rape victim.

  • allein

    There are a number of reasons a rape victim might not scream for help.

  • L.Long

    Abortion isn’t against gawd as what do you think happens when you hear voices saying ….’put to the sword all women who have known men.’ And Ya I know some of then would not necessarily by pregnant, but this was before general contraception.

  • Ohtobide

    Of course there are and we have no reason to think that those reasons would not be taken into account. Deuteronomy does not go into the details of trials after all.

    That the rule about screaming for help is given as a test of whether or not it was rape is shown by the fact that it does not apply if the rape takes place out in the country, where no one can hear.

    The fact remains, Deuteronomy does not sanction the murder of rape victims and it is unfair to suggest that it does.

  • Nicole Introvert

    This is EXACTLY what I am talking about on the Reproductive Rights FTBCon panel! I may point people to your article!

  • Azkyroth

    The teaching that abortion is necessarily murder or ‘the moral equivalent of murder’ is actually

    a myth. FIFY.

  • Azkyroth

    Deuteronomy sanctions the murder of rape victims by gerrymandering which rape victims “really count.”

  • Azkyroth

    There’s also verses like Ecclesiastes 6:3 that are pretty explicit about the idea that it’s better to never be born than have a miserable life.

  • John Kesler


    I have a couple of minor corrections:

    1) Genesis 38 says nothing about attempts to find a husband for Tamar after Er is killed. Er’s brother Onan is told to do his duty as a brother-in-law and impregnate Tamar, which he doesn’t do, but there are not attempts to locate a husband for her.

    2) The numbering of the Levites (not all the Israelites) is in Numbers 3, not 5.

    Other examples of the murder of pregnant women are Sodom and Gomorrah, the Great Flood, the murder of the Amalekites, etc.

  • Marcion

    Actually, all chrisitans should celebrate abortion. Why?

    1. Fetuses are people (Jeremiah 1:5)
    2. All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. (Roman 3:23)
    3. The wages of sin is death. (Romans 6:23)

    Therefore all those sinful fetuses had it coming. They deserved it, for the wages of their sin is death. Every single abortion is an act of divine justice. After all, fetuses don’t believe in Jesus, and those who do not believe are condemned already, for they have not believed in the name of the only son of god (John 3:18).

  • Adam Lee

    Surely the point here is that if she does not scream for help she is not a rape victim.

    That may have been what the Bible’s authors believed, but I should hope we can see how morally monstrous that is. There are any number of reasons why a woman who’s sexually assaulted might not scream for help.

  • Ohtobide

    And, as I said to allein when he made the same point “we have no reason to think that those reasons would not be taken into account.”

  • Adam Lee

    I see no reason why we should assume that these laws contained humane exceptions that no one thought it worth their while to record.

  • Azkyroth

    You mean aside from absolutely everything else the Bible contains about women and their place and treatment?

  • Norm Donnan

    Christians arnt crusading against woman,but crusading for innocent people being disposed of for convenience of which the bible has plenty to say.

  • GCT

    If you read the article linked to in the OP, you’d see that the Bible does have plenty to say and it doesn’t agree with you. As for being against women, the Bible is definitely that and so are all the anti-choice positions I’ve ever seen.