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Abortion, Women, and the Bible

Pro-Life vs. Pro-Choice

Abortion Facts Around the World

  • 1/3 of all pregnancies worldwide are unplanned.

  • Approximately 25% of the world population lives in countries with highly restrictive abortion laws, mostly in Asia, Africa and Latin America.

  • One woman dies every 7 minutes around the world due to an unsafe illegal abortion. Women who undergo illegal abortions are those who are very poor and do not have access to family planning facilities for education and prevention of unwanted pregnancies.

  • Making abortion illegal or legal has no effect on the total number of abortions performed in the world. Making abortion legal dramatically reduces maternal morbidity and mortality.

  • Nearly 50% of pregnancies that occur yearly are unwanted with nearly ½ of those pregnant women terminating their pregnancy. In essence; 42 million choose to terminate their pregnancy with close to half of those (20 million) being illegal.

  • Women who obtain abortion represent every religious affiliation. 43% of women obtaining abortion identify themselves as Protestant, and 27% as Catholic; and 13% of abortion patients describe themselves as born-again or Evangelical Christians. (See also, My abortion was different: Why women shame and blame each other.)

The Rev. Pat Robertson, founder of the “700 Club” religious TV show and Christian news program, and a leader of the national anti-abortion movement, said leaders in China who are forcing women to have abortions are “doing what they have to do.” In an interview Monday night on CNNʼs “Wolf Blitzer Reports,” Robertson said the United States should not interfere with Chinaʼs policy. “Well, you know, I donʼt agree with it, but at the same time, theyʼve got 1.2 billion people and they donʼt know what to do,” said Robertson, founder of the Christian Coalition. “If every family over there was allowed to have three or four children, the population would be completely unsustainable.” “So I think that right now theyʼre doing what they have to do. I donʼt agree with the forced abortion, but I donʼt think the United States needs to interfere with what theyʼre doing internally in this regard.”

Associated Press, 2001

Abortion & The United Nations

Despite the misinformation campaign led by the far right, who claim that the United Nations Population Fund supports forced abortions, the truth is that by denying family planning services to those who need them, we are setting in motion 800,000 more abortions than would normally occur. In Hungary, the introduction of modern contraception led to a 60% reduction in abortions. Similar results can be seen in Chile, Colombia, Mexico, South Korea, Kazakhstan and Ukraine.

The Population Institute, “What Can Make the World More Secure?” [Pamphlet]

A Country With Some of the Harshest Anti-Abortion Laws in the World

Nepalʼs prohibition of abortion was one of the harshest in the world: it did not allow exceptions even in cases of rape, incest, and life-threatening situations, and simply classified abortion as infanticide. As a result of that law, hundreds of women served prison terms. Two-thirds of all women in prison were there for “garbaphat,” the Nepalese term for abortion and infanticide. In addition to those in Nepalese prisons for abortion, thousands more suffered, and often died, after resorting to extremely dangerous back-street methods. It had been estimated that six women died every day in Nepal due to poorly administrated abortions. Finally, in 2002, King Gyanendra of Nepal signed into law a bill that legalized abortion in addition to bringing about sweeping changes in many other discriminatory laws.


The conservative politics of the Bush administration forced me to have an abortion I didnʼt want. Well, not literally, but let me explain. by Dana L., The Washington Post, 2006.

View story by clicking here.

Nature The Abortionist, Part I

Many conceptions do not mature properly and are naturally aborted. And a fairly high percentage (20-30% or more?) of people born as single individuals used to be twins in the womb but one of them was reabsorbed into the womb or into the other twin.

Even the pro-lifer, Dr. John Collins Harvey, admits, “Products of conception [often] die at either the zygote, morula, or blastocyst stage. They never reach the implant stage but are discharged in the menstrual flow of the next period. It is estimated that [this]occurs in more than 50 percent of conceptions. In such occurrences, a woman may never even know that she has been pregnant.” (Regardless of whether you believe that Jesus “loves all the little zygotes in the world,” apparently that love does not include giving them all a whole and healthy start in life.—E.T.B.)

“Distinctly Human,” Commonweal, Feb. 8, 2002

Nature the Abortionist, Part II

There are dangers to the lives of women during childbirth, which only a hundred and fifty years ago claimed the lives of both woman and child far more frequently than childbirth does today. Of those children who are born, some suffer birth defects, a few of which are invariably fatal.

There are also dangers posed by childhood diseases. Two hundred years ago the French naturalist, Buffon, lamented, “Half the children born never reach the age of eight.” They died of diseases like smallpox, scarlet fever, measles, mumps, the flu, pneumonia, cholera, tuberculosis, meningitis, chicken pox, tetanus and staphylococcus infections. In fact a high percentage of the young of all animals and plants die from bacterial or viral infections. In the end, nothing is as disrespectful of higher life forms as the tiny microbes that hungrily devour the children of all species.

Unfortunately, picketing Mother Nature solves nothing. Neither do Christians dare blame “God” for having created “nature” this way.


Bible Verses That Mention Miscarriages (“Untimely Births”) & Suggest That In Some Cases “Not Being Born” Might Have Been Best

Cursed be the day wherein I was born: let not the day wherein my mother bare me be blessed. Cursed be the man who brought tidings to my father, saying, A man child is born unto thee; making him very glad. And let that man be as the cities which the LORD overthrew, and repented not: and let him hear the cry in the morning, and the shouting at noontide; Because he slew me not from the womb; or that my mother might have been my grave, and her womb to be always great with me. Wherefore came I forth out of the womb to see labour and sorrow, that my days should be consumed with shame?
— Jeremiah 20:14-18

[This is the only Biblical passage that directly and indisputably mentions a practice that we would today think of as “abortion,” but notice, Jeremiah is cursing a man for NOT aborting the fetal Jeremiah.—E.T.B.]

Or as an hidden untimely birth I had not been; as infants which never saw light. There the wicked cease from troubling; and there the weary be at rest. There the prisoners rest together; they hear not the voice of the oppressor. The small and great are there; and the servant is free from his master.
— Job 3:16-19

If a man beget an hundred children, and live many years, so that the days of his years be many, and his soul be not filled with good, and also that he have no burial; I say, that an untimely birth is better than he. For he cometh in with vanity, and departeth in darkness, and his name shall be covered with darkness. Moreover he hath not seen the sun, nor known any thing: this hath more rest than the other.
— Ecclesiastes 6:3-5

How Pro-Life is the Bible? Part I

According to the Bible, God Himself is ready, willing and able to abort fetuses:

Their fruit shalt Thou destroy from the earth, and their seed from among the children of men.
— Psalm 21:10

The wicked are estranged from the womb: they go astray as soon as they are born… let every one of them pass away: like the untimely birth of a woman, that they may not see the sun.
— Psalm 58:3, 8

As for Israel, their glory shall fly away like a bird, and from the womb, and from the conception…Give them, O Lord: what will Thou give? Give them a miscarrying womb and dry breasts…they shall bear no fruit…
— Hosea 9:11-16

Notice that the prophet Hosea is pleading with his God to punish the Israelites by murdering their unborn babies. The Bible never really provides a logical rationale as to why fetuses, babies, and children must be punished for the sins of their parents and others. Some would suggest that for God to kill unborn babies for their parentʼs sins is somewhat misdirected retribution.

Gene Kasmar, WHY…The Brooklyn Center High School Bible Challenge. Part 1: The Evidence

How Pro-Life is the Bible? Part II

Every living thing on the earth was drowned [by the Hebrew LORD—which included pregnant women and babies]…Noah only remained alive, and they that were with him in the ark.
— Genesis 7:23

Thus saith the LORD…Slay both man and woman, infant and suckling.
— 1 Samuel 15:3

Joshua destroyed all that breathed, as the LORD commanded.
— Joshua 10:40

The LORD delivered them before us; and we destroyed the men, and the women, and the little ones.
— Deuteronomy 2:33-34

Kill every male among the little ones.
— Numbers 31:17

The wind of the LORD shall come up from the wilderness, and his spring shall become dry, and…Samaria shall become desolate…they shall fall by the sword: their infants shall be dashed in pieces, and their women with child shall be ripped up.
— Hosea 13:15-16

With thee will I [the LORD] break in pieces the young man and the maid.
— Jeremiah 51:22

Happy shall he be, that taketh and dasheth thy little ones against the stones.
— Psalm 137:9

According to the Bible, God gave orders to kill children and to rip open the bodies of pregnant women. The pestilences were sent by God. The frightful famine, during which the dying child with pallid lips sucked the withered bosom of his dead mother, was sent by God. God drowned an entire world with the exception of eight persons. Imagine how such acts would have stained the reputation of the devil!

Robert G. Ingersoll

How Pro-Life is the Bible? Part III

According to the God of the Bible it was more important to stone a woman to death if she should “entice you to follow after other gods,” than it was to rescue the life of any fetus she might have been carrying.

It was more important to stone a woman to death the day after her wedding night “if she was discovered not to have been a virgin,” than it was to wait and see if she might have conceived new life that night.

It was more important to stone a woman to death for “adultery,” than to wait and see if she might be pregnant.

It was more important to stone a woman to death for “failing to cry out while being raped within earshot of the city,” than it was to spare the life she might have conceived during that ordeal, during which the rapist may have held a knife to her throat, or strangled her into silence and submission.

And what about the test of “bitter water” mentioned in chapter five of the book of Numbers? The test consisted of mixing dust from the floor of the Hebrew tabernacle [i.e., dirt mixed with blood and other effluvia from countless animal sacrifices along with all the possibly deadly bacteria breeding among it] with “holy water” to make a concoction that a woman drank to reveal whether or not she had committed adultery. If she had, it says, “her belly will swell and her thigh will rot.” Scholars have pointed out that “thigh” is a euphemism for sexual organs. So if the woman had committed adultery and had conceived as a result, then such “bitter water” would probably induce an abortion (“her thigh would rot”). (I wonder if this means that Bible-believing women who are accused of having affairs ought to swallow some dirt from the unclean floor of the nearest slaughter house mixed with “holy water?”)

And what about children who “curse their parents?” The Bible says, “Kill them!” (Ex. 21:17; Lev. 20:9; Mat. 15:4; Mark 7:10) The Bible does not say how old the child has to be, but it does emphatically state they must “surely be put to death” should they “curse their parents.”

Ah, the good old days, when God fearing people had higher priorities than “saving fetal lives.” They were too busy stoning whomever enticed them to worship other gods, stoning adulteresses, stoning women who werenʼt virgins on their wedding night, stoning women who “failed to cry out” during rape, and stoning sassy children. In other words they were too busy with all of those higher priorities to worry about “the fate of fetuses.”


How Pro-Life is the Bible? Part 4

Abortion as such is not discussed in the Bible, so any explanation of why it is not legislated or commented on is speculative.

A key text for examining ancient Israelite attitudes [toward the fetus] is Exodus 21:22-25: “When people who are fighting injure a pregnant woman so that there is a miscarriage, and yet no further harm follows, the one responsible shall be fined what the womanʼs husband demands, paying as much as the judges determine. If any harm follows, then you shall give life for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth, burn for burn, wound for wound, stripe for stripe.” Several observations can be made about this passage.

The Hebrew text at v. 22 literally reads “and there is no harm,” implying that contrary to current sensibilities, the miscarriage itself was not considered serious injury. The monetary judgment given to the womanʼs husband indicates that the womanʼs experience of the miscarriage is not of significance, and that the damage is considered one to property rather than to human life. This latter observation is further supported by the contrast with the penalties for harm to the woman herself.

Drorah OʼDonnell Setel, “Abortion,” The Oxford Guide to Ideas & Issues of the Bible, ed. by Bruce Metzger and Michael D. Coogan (Oxford University Press, 2001)

There is no biblical proof-text against abortion. Deuteronomy 30:19 (“choose life”) has nothing to do with abortion; it has to do with being party to Godʼs covenant with Israel. Psalm 139:13-18 is less relevant to the issue than most people think; a careful reading of that psalm reveals that the “mother” in whose “womb” the psalmist was known by God is Mother Earth (notice the parallelism between “my motherʼs womb” and “the depths of the earth” in the inclusio of vv. 13-15). Exodus 21 is very difficult, but it certainly does not speak directly to abortion; at most, it relates to an accidentally induced miscarriage, though it may refer to a premature birth. That interpretive decision is crucial, and Iʼm not sure how to resolve it. As far as I can tell, the only biblical passage that I know of that directly mentions a practice like we would think of as abortion curses a man who did not practice it on the fetal Jeremiah (Jeremiah 20:16-18). Now, having said that, I hasten to repeat that my general default position is anti-abortion (I am willing to listen to arguments on specific cases, though Iʼve never had any input into a specific case), and I think a biblical case can be made for an anti-abortion position. But it must be a cumulative theological case, not a list of proof-texts—for there are no such proof-texts.

Dr. R. Christopher Heard [Old Testament professor at Pepperdine University, lifelong member of Churches of Christ], “Is the Bible Anti-Abortion?” at his blog, Higgaion, Friday, November 18, 2005

What Happens To The Souls of Fetuses That Die?

  1. Theological Option #1

    The Souls of the Dead Fetuses Go To Heaven

    This first option is the most optimistic, loving, and forgiving, but seems to turn abortions into “altar calls” with 100% assurance of eternal salvation for each and every aborted fetus.

    But what do YOU believe?

  2. Theological Option #2

    The Souls of Dead Fetuses Go To Wherever God Ordains Them To Go, Either Heaven or Hell

    According to various Bible verses, God “ordains” all things, including the premature deaths (including executions) of fetuses, pregnant women, and children. In other words, each soul in this world “gets” what God has “ordained” for it, regardless if they are aborted in the womb, or reach old age.

    But what do YOU believe?

  3. Theological Option #3

    The Souls of Dead Fetuses Whose Bodies Are Not Baptized, Go To Hell

    Theologians from Augustine to Jonathan Edwards considered it right for God to send to hell the souls of fetuses whose bodies were not baptized before they died. Their doctrine was called “infant damnation” and it was taught by Christian churches for centuries. So, all fetuses that are not baptized before they die go to hell.

    But what do YOU believe?

  4. Theological Option #4

    Baptize Fetuses In The Womb

    If baptism spiritually cleanses the fetusʼ “original sin,” ensuring it goes to heaven, then why take any risks of it not getting baptized, and instead baptize fetuses by inserting a syringe filled with water into the womb? This would be especially useful in cases where the life of a fetus and/or the mother was at risk. Indeed, the option of syringe baptism continued to be taught to Catholic seminarians right up till Vatican II in the 1960s.

    Attempting to counteract such Catholic excesses as he viewed them the Protestant Reformer, John Calvin, forbade mid-wives (or anyone else for that matter) from hastily baptizing sickly newborn infants, because Calvin believed in waiting a few days until a proper baptism ceremony in church could be conducted. According to Calvin, it was Godʼs providential choice, not human effort, that determined who would wind up in heaven or hell, and if the fetus or newborn didnʼt survive long enough to have a proper baptismal ceremony, it was Godʼs will that it die prematurely and/or suffer in hell for eternity.

    Which of the four cases above do YOU believe is true?

Speaking of Souls, When Does “Soul-less” Begin?

If the life of a personʼs eternal soul begins at conception/fertilization yet you freeze a human egg right after it is fertilized, then is that a “soul on ice?” This is not a merely theoretical question, because it happens all the time in fertilization clinics. They mix human sperm and eggs in test tubes and store the fertilized zygotes in a freezer sometimes for years before they are implanted in a womanʼs uterus. The prominent Catholic theologian, Thomas Aquinas, argued that “soul-life” only began several months after conception.


Two Radically Different Views on How to Obtain “Heavenly Rewards”

“I expect to get a great reward in heaven. I am looking forward to glory.”
— Paul Hill, who murdered an abortion doctor and his escort, Washington Post, 2003

Pro-lifer (Outside an Abortion Clinic): What if your mother had decided not to have you?
Clinic Defender: Iʼd be in clover, Iʼd be in heaven experiencing ecstasy that I never earned or deserved.
— John E. Seery, Los Angeles Times

Improving the Lives of Children Who Have Been Born

The death rate of children under the age of 15 has fallen by 95 percent since 1900 in the United States. The child death rates in just the past 20 years have incredibly been halved in India, Egypt, Indonesia, Brazil, Mexico, Chile, South Korea, Israel, and scores of other nations. Almost all of the major killer diseases before 1900—tuberculosis, typhoid, smallpox, whooping cough, to name a few—have been all but eradicated.
— Stephen Moore & Julian Simon, Itʼs Getting Better All the Time: 100 Greatest Trends of the Last 100 Years

Much more still needs to be done for the worldʼs children, to feed and fully nourish them in the womb and soon after birth, because deficiencies in salt, minerals, vitamins and protein are still crippling children both physically and mentally throughout the world (sometimes killing them as well), yet in most cases it takes only pennies a day to provide what is lacking for each child. Meanwhile in the wealthiest countries like America we think nothing of spending ten thousand dollars or more at a fertilization clinic just to try and conceive a child, or spend a million dollars or more in hospital fees to sustain the life of a single child (one that has been born prematurely). Such extravagances in the wealthier parts of the world must make those in the poorer parts of the world look askance.

One might also consider contrasting the “needs of the unborn” with those children who are already born throughout the world and who require medicine, education, and a chance to rise out of poverty. Bringing too many children into a city or country that cannot support them is not going to improve matters in that country but increase suffering and strife. Poverty and insufficient nutrition lead to a rise in the rate of spontaneous abortions, back-street abortions and therapeutic abortions, as well as an increase in the mortality rate of children already born.
— E.T.B.

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