Abortion and the Bible

Abortion and the Bible September 19, 2006

"How do people of faith choose to be pro-abortion?"
  E.W., Kenosha



"How do people of faith choose to be pro-abortion?"
  E.W., Kenosha



By any measure, abortion is a sad and tragic choice. It terminates the
lives and life-chances of potential members of society and everything
of value those lost lives might have given to the world, while often
visiting terrible emotional and physical trauma upon the women who
undergo abortions.


That is why almost no one on earth is pro-abortion. One may be for a
woman’s right to choose whether to bear a child or not, but there are
few persons who are actually pro-abortion. Nonetheless, many
conservatives condemn those who support women’s right to choose
abortions — and especially those who perform them — as murderers,
even when a woman is a victim of violent rape, even when the pregnancy
threatens her life. Some “Christians” even call for the execution of
anyone involved in terminating a pregnancy, no matter the reason for
their involvement. In fact, doctors and nurses whose only crime was
performing or assisting legal abortions, some for the most humane
reasons, have been stalked, viciously attacked, even murdered.    


Yet for all the tragedy of abortion, conservatives’ claims that
opposition to it is a biblical commandment are not accurate. The truth
is that the Bible never once directly mentions abortion. What it does
say clearly suggests that the death of a fetus is not the equivalent of
the death of a normal adult human being. For example, in the Book of
Exodus (21:22-23) the penalty prescribed for striking a pregnant woman
and causing her to miscarry, without suffering any other harm, is not
confinement or physical punishment, but a fine. But if the woman
herself is injured, the punishment reverts to “an eye for an eye, a
tooth for a tooth.” The difference is indisputable: the biblical
punishment for causing the death of the unborn is a monetary fine,
whereas the penalty for simply harming one who is already born calls
for much more serious punishment.


In no way am I suggesting that this observation lightens the
seriousness of abortion. It does not. What this scriptural evidence
does mean, however, is that neither anti-abortionists nor anyone else
can claim biblical sanction for equating the death of a fetus with the
death of a living human being. Thus, those who call abortion “murder”
and revile providers of abortion as “murderers” are lacking in
conclusive biblical sanction for their charges. In other words, one may
support a woman’s right to choose, or even personally oppose abortion
while resisting calls to legally criminalize it, and still be on strong
Christian ground. Maybe even on stronger ground, because to become so
obsessed with concern for the unborn that one forgets to care for the
already born contradicts the Gospel of Jesus in the most basic ways.
Yet again and again, we have seen politicians and proponents of “family
values” weep and wail about the rights of the unborn, while all but
ignoring the screaming needs of living, breathing American families for
adequate healthcare, adequate wages to feed and clothe their children,
and relief from the horrors wrought daily by a bumbling, fumbling,
lying war machine.


Those of us who take seriously the call of Jesus to love one another
must ask our brothers and sisters who have become so obsessed with
abortion: How can you say you care so deeply about your brothers and
sisters that are not yet born when you show so little concern for the
needs of your brothers and sisters who are already here? And how can
you seek to criminalize abortion without seeking to impeach a president
whose lies and demonstrated contempt for human rights kills and maims
hundreds of God’s children every week?


Obery Hendricks
is the author of The Politics of Jesus: Rediscovering the True Revolutionary Nature of Jesus’ Teachings and How They Have Been Corrupted

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