Abortion in the Bible

Abortion in the Bible

Shouldn’t a woman have the right to decide whether she will give up nine months of her life to carry a baby and then years of raising the child? Is aborting a child infanticide? What can we learn about abortion in the Bible?

The most fundamental problem is that conception is supposed to occur when a man and a woman are united in marriage. Many women seek abortions when they are pregnant and unmarried. There are also situations where a married couple doesn’t want a child or can’t afford one. This creates a difficult choice. What we must consider is when is an embryo a human being, and is it ever an extension of the mother’s body?

Scientifically the embryo is a human, and genetically everything about the child’s physical makeup has been determined at conception. Morning sickness shows that the baby is not an extension of the woman’s body and that her body recognizes it as a foreign entity. The baby growing inside the womb is aware of much of what is going on outside and can respond to outside stimuli long before birth.

We don’t see direct instructions regarding abortion in the Bible. However, there are numerous indications that the unborn child is human. Exodus 21:22-23 says that a man who kills an unborn child in a fight should bare the punishment designed for a man who killed another human.

Many biblical passages talk about humans being made in the womb. Consider these:

“When God punishes me, how shall I answer Him? Did not He who made me in the womb make them? Did not the same One fashion us in the womb?” Job 31:13-15

“For you created my inmost being, you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made…Your eyes saw my substance, being yet unformed. And in your book they all were written, the days fashioned for me, when as yet there were none of them.” Psalms 139:13, 16

“Then the word of the Lord came to me saying: ‘Before I formed you in the womb I knew you. Before you were born I sanctified you. I ordained you a prophet to the nations.’” Jeremiah 1:4-5.

“When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the baby leaped in her womb…” Luke 1:41.

Even though there are no specific instructions regarding abortion in the Bible, we see the sacredness of human life. This area of decision making is challenging. Nobody should minimize how difficult it is for women to stand for the sacredness of human life by choosing to allow the life inside her to survive. That child could bless a family that can’t have biological children. We need to support women who reject infanticide and help the innocent child find a home with the love and family that God intended.

— John N. Clayton © 2020