Home > Morality
In all the wars fought by the USA, a total of over 1.2 million soldiers have died. This study is about the people who have died in a different war: the war on the unborn. Since the United States Supreme Court ruled in 1973 that unborn babies could legally be killed, between 1 and 1.5 million unborn babies have been legally killed in this country every year. The yellow pages of any phone book list several nearby clinics where women can "terminate a pregnancy."
But no human legislature and no human court has final authority over what is morally right or wrong. Nazi law and Communist law allowed the killing of millions of adults. Was that moral? God is the final authority in determining what is morally right or wrong, regardless of what any man may say (Isa. 55:8,9; Luke 16:15; 1 Cor. 1:18-25). We must obey God rather than men (Acts 5:29).
The purpose of this study is to consider exactly what the Bible teaches about abortion. The Bible is the perfect standard of right and wrong (2 Tim. 3:16,17; 1 Cor. 14:37; John 12:48). Too much has been said about abortion without adequately considering the Bible teaching.
First consider some background information.
Consider in reverse order the stages of development of a human being from conception to adulthood. At each stage, ask yourself if it is morally right to kill an innocent person at that stage of development. May we kill it if it was conceived out of wedlock, or would live in poverty, have a deformity, or even it if was conceived a result of rape?
The adult is fully grown. All body parts are functioning, but growth has ended. May we kill it for no wrong that it has done, simply because we choose to do so?
At this point all body parts are functioning, but it is still growing. May we kill it?
The baby is functioning in all its parts and growing rapidly. It may not look much like it will in adulthood, but it is fully a human individual. May we kill it?
The baby is functioning fully in all its body parts and growing rapidly. The only difference from after birth is where it lives and how it gets its air and food. May we kill it?
It can move arms and legs (but the mother cannot feel it). All body systems are present and operating; nothing new will be added from this point. The baby simply grows. Legally it may be killed with practically no restrictions during the first three months, and with few restrictions afterwards. But why would it be right to kill it now, but wrong a few months from now?
Fingers and toes are clearly distinguishable. Reproductive organs are developing. Bones are forming. It is clearly recognizable as human. Six weeks after conception brain waves can be measured. May we kill it? Yet this is the stage that is most preferred for performing abortions!
All major organs have begun developing: brain and nerves, eyes, lungs, stomach and intestines, kidneys, etc. The heart began to beat and circulate blood on the 18th day. The baby has its own blood type, which is often different from its mother's. Yet the mother may not even know she is pregnant.
From the moment of conception, the unborn baby is a unique individual. The genes that determine its physical nature are different from those of any other individual, including its mother and father. Its sex is determined at conception and obviously may differ from the mother's. Each cell in the baby's body is uniquely different from every cell of its mother and every other human.
At what point in this progression is it morally right to kill it, when it has done no wrong, simply because we choose to? How do you prove it is right up to one point but wrong after that point? Human wisdom cannot answer. But the Bible has the answer.
(The above information is summarized from "Life before Birth," Life magazine, April 30, 1965, and other sources.)
Here is how these babies are killed as they grow in their mother's womb.
This method is common during the first 13 weeks of pregnancy. A tiny hoe-like instrument, the curette, is inserted into the womb through the dilated cervix. The abortionist then scrapes the wall of the uterus, cutting the baby's body to pieces.
This technique, pioneered in Communist China, is common for early pregnancies. A powerful suction tube is inserted into the womb; then the body of the developing baby is torn to pieces and sucked into a jar. Even early in pregnancy body parts are recognizable as arms, legs, etc. There is ultra-sound evidence that the baby feels the pain (as in the movie "The Silent Scream").
This has been used in advanced pregnancies. A needle is inserted through the mother's abdomen, and a strong salt solution is injected into the amniotic fluid that surrounds the child. The baby is slowly poisoned and burned by the salt it swallows and "breathes." The mother then goes into labor and expels a grotesque, shriveled baby. Some babies are born alive but deformed.
This method is used in the last trimester of pregnancy. The womb is entered by surgery. Then the tiny baby is killed and removed.
Hormone-like compounds are injected into the muscle of the uterus, causing it to contract intensely and push out the developing baby. Many babies are born alive.
In this late-term method, the doctor uses forceps to remove the baby from the womb. The head, however, is too big to be extracted. So the abortionist cuts a hole in the base of the skull, suctions out the brain, crushes the skull, and then removes the baby. (See Lake County Right-to-Life Newsletter, 4&5/93.)
Newer methods include the "morning after" pill, which may allow conception and then causes the fertilized egg to be expelled from the womb. Note that many so-called "contraceptives" (such as the I.U.D. and even some forms of the "pill") may have a similar effect. Ask your doctor how a "contraceptive" works before using it.
(The above information is taken from "Abortion: What It Is," A.L.L. About Issues, July, 1982, and other sources.)
Consider now the Bible teaching about abortion. The fundamental question to be answered is whether or not the life conceived in the mother's womb is a human person, separate and distinct as an individual from the mother.
There can be no doubt that we are discussing something that is alive. If it were not alive, why would we discuss whether or not it is right to kill it? The question is what kind of life it is.
In the beginning God created only three basic classes of life, each of which reproduces after its own kind. (1) He created plants that reproduce after their kind because of the power of the seed (Gen. 1:11,12). (2) He created animals that reproduce after their own kind (Gen. 1:20-25). (3) He also created people in God's own image (Gen. 1:26-30). People are distinct from the animals, they rule the animals, and they also reproduce in their own image, after their own kind (Gen. 5:3).
In which of these three categories should a living, unborn baby be classed? It cannot be considered plant or animal because plants and animals reproduce after their own kind, and it is not the result of plant or animal reproduction. It is the result of human reproduction, and humans are distinct from the plants and animals. Therefore the life in the womb of a human mother must necessarily be human! It is the result of human reproduction, and humans beget in their own image; hence, what has been begotten must be human.
Note that Genesis 5:3 clearly shows that conception ("begetting") is what causes the son or daughter of humans to be in the image of the parents. The context refers to specific historic events in which fathers "beget" children. This must refer to conception since that is the only role the father plays in the forming of a child.
Hence, the life in the mother's womb is human life. The only question that remains is this: is it just a part of the mother's body, or is it a separate and distinct individual from the mother? If it is just part of the mother, like a hand, foot, or appendix, it could be removed without committing murder. But if it is a separate individual, then killing it constitutes murder. This is the issue we must resolve.
The Bible (King James and other older versions) nowhere uses the terms "human" or "human being," but instead uses other equivalent phrases. Further, the Bible has no unique word for "person." When this word occurs in English translations, it is simply an alternative translation for words more commonly translated "man," etc. We cannot determine whether the unborn is a human individual simply by searching for the terms "human being" or "person," because the Bible generally does not use these words in this way.
Instead, the Bible identifies a human person by calling it simply a "man," "woman," "child," "son," "daughter," "baby," "infant," etc. When used regarding the offspring of a human mother and father, these Bible terms refer to a human individual who is separate and distinct from his mother and father. You will not find a more technical name than these for any human, born or unborn, anywhere in the Bible. If the Bible uses these terms for an unborn baby, that will constitute definite proof that the unborn is a human individual.
What we need to know, then, is whether or not the Bible refers to the unborn baby by terms that imply humanity, just as it does for other humans.
In Genesis 25:21,22, Rebekah conceived twins, and "the children struggled together within her." Note the connection between the conception and "children." That which was conceived was called "children" (Heb. BEN) between the conception and the birth.
In 2 Kings 19:3 (and Isaiah 37:3), Hezekiah compares himself to an expectant mother who lacks strength for the labor. He says, "the children have come to birth, but there is no strength to bring them forth." The life in the mother's womb is here called "children" (Heb. BEN).
In Ruth 1:11, Naomi's husband and her two sons had died. She explains to her two widowed daughters-in-law that she could never provide sons for them to marry after the custom of that day. She asks, "Are there still sons in my womb, that they may be your husbands?" Again the term "sons" (Heb. BEN) describes the unborn life.
This Hebrew word (BEN) is the most common Old Testament word for a child or son. It has various meanings, including figurative uses. But when used for the physical offspring of humans (as in these cases), it consistently refers to distinct human individuals. This is the literal meaning of the word.
For example, Genesis 25:1-4 names the "children" of Keturah. In Genesis 3:16 Eve was told she would conceive and "bring forth children." Surely this means she would conceive and give birth to human individuals. But this same term is used to describe the unborn life in the womb. Why doesn't this mean human individuals too? There is no scriptural reason to distinguish them. The word means the same in both cases: a human individual, separate and distinct as an individual from its parents. It is a human individual when it has been "conceived," just the same as it is when it has been born. [Cf. 2 Kings 17:31; Ruth 1:1.]
Job here distinguishes the day of his birth from the night of his conception. He grieves over the "day" he was "born" (v. 3a, cf. v. 4,5), then over the "night" he was "conceived" (v. 3b, cf. v. 6,7). On that night it could have been said, "A male-child is conceived." That which was conceived was a "male-child" ("man child" - ASV) on the very night of its conception!
The word for "male-child" (Heb. GEBER) elsewhere means "man," i.e., a human individual. See Job 3:23; 4:17; 10:5; Psalms 127:5; 128:4; etc. (or consult a concordance). This word inherently, without exception, refers to a human individual. Hence, Job is affirming that he was a human individual from the very night he was conceived.
Job speaks of babies that die before birth (a "stillborn child" - NKJV) as "infants" who never saw light. This is exactly like babies that are aborted, but the passage refers to them as "infants" (Heb. OLEL). This word always and without exception refers to human individuals (cf. Hosea 13:16; Psalm 8:2 - "babes"). Joel 2:16 lists "children" (OLEL) as "people."
Hence, babies that die in their mother's womb, like aborted babies, are "infants" - human individuals separate and distinct from other human beings.
Jacob and Esau were twins. While still in the womb, Jacob took his "brother" by the heel. The word for "brother" (Heb. ACH) is the primary Old Testament word for a brother - a human individual conceived by the same mother. Jacob was Esau's "brother" before they were born just the same as afterward (Gen. 27:41).
Here is another Bible term for a human individual which is used to refer to an unborn baby. Life conceived in your mother's womb, even before it is born, is your "brother" or "sister."
In Numbers 12:12, when Miriam became leprous, she was described "as one dead, whose flesh is half consumed when he comes out of his mother's womb." So if a woman conceives and the baby dies before it is born - as in an abortion - the woman is still called a "mother."
In Luke 1:43, Elizabeth addressed Mary as "the mother of my Lord" before Jesus was born, very soon after He was conceived (compare verse 36 to verses 56,57).
The word "mother" (Heb. EM; Greek METER) has many uses; but in contexts referring to physical human reproduction, it always refers to one who has procreated or formed another human individual, a separate and distinct individual from the mother herself. (See for example Num. 6:7; Gen. 3:20; Luke 1:60; and see a concordance.) There is no exception to this meaning in the Bible.
A woman who has conceived, even if the child is not yet born and even if it dies before birth, is a "mother." She has produced a human individual.
Elizabeth conceived (v24), and the life "in her womb" is called a "babe" or "baby" (Greek BREPHOS). This is the second-most-common New Testament word for a baby. It is always used, without exception, for that which is a human individual separate and distinct from its mother. Jesus, for example, is called a "babe" (BREPHOS) lying in a manger (Luke 2:12,16). (See Acts 7:19 and a concordance.)
Hence, before he was born, John was a "baby" in his mother's womb - a living human being.
Again, the life conceived in Elizabeth's womb, before it was born, is called "a son."
The word "son" (Greek HUIOS) also has various meanings. But in contexts that refer to the physical offspring of humans, the word always and without exception refers to that which is a human individual separate and distinct as an individual from its parents. It is the most common New Testament word for a "son" (see Matt. 1:21,23,25; Luke 1:13,31; 2:7; etc.)
Compare John's conception to his birth:
Luke 1:36 - Elizabeth "conceived a son."
Luke 1:57 - Elizabeth "brought forth a son."
These verses refer to the same mother and the same son in the same context. One verse describes the conception and the other describes the birth, but both call the child a "son." Surely the word means the same in both cases. If John was a human being when he had been born, then he was a human being from the time of his conception.
Adam begot a son in his own likeness or image (v3). The term "beget" (Heb. YALAD) has various meanings, literal and figurative. When used for the father's role in the literal, historical event of human procreation, it always refers to conception or fertilization since this is the only role the father has in the birth of the child.
But that which is begotten is in the likeness or image of the father. So humans reproduce after their own kind, and what has been conceived is in the image of the father as a result of the conception and from the time of the conception. But what was the son in the image of? He was in the image of "man" (ADAM - vv. 1,2). This is the second-most-common word for man in the Old Testament, and is the same word used for man at creation in Gen. 1:26f. The son is in the image of "man" from conception on!
Further, God made man and woman in the likeness of God (v1). Then the man begot sons and daughters in his image. Therefore the sons and daughters must be in the image of God just as the parents are, and this is the result of conception. Hence, that which man begets is itself man, in the image of God from conception on!
Men fight and "hurt a woman with child, so that her fruit depart" (KJV, ASV). The life in the mother's womb is her "fruit" (Heb. YELED). This word is elsewhere translated "child," "boy," "son," or "young man." It is the second-most-common Old Testament word for "child." It is so used for Moses in Exodus 2:3-10 (cf. Ex. 1:17,18; Gen. 21:8; Ruth 4:16; etc.). Exodus 21:22 is the only place where this word is translated "fruit."
When referring to human offspring, this word without exception refers to that which is a human individual, a separate and distinct individual from its parents. Hence, this passage gives us another case where the life in the mother's womb is described as a human being.
(Note that other Hebrew words are translated "fruit" in the KJV, clearly referring to human beings - Deut. 28:4,11,18,53; 30:9; Psa. 132:11; etc. Hence, the KJV is not denying the humanity of the unborn in Ex. 21:22-25).
When we return to this passage later, we will learn that it requires punishment for a man who causes an expectant mother to give birth prematurely. If the baby is born dead or injured, the man should have inflicted on him the same harm he caused to the baby, even "life for life."
The Hebrew word for "life" in both cases is NEPHESH, which has many meanings, but its most common translations are "soul" (428 times), then "life" (119 times) then "person" (30 times). This expression, then, means that the unborn baby has "life" in exactly the same sense as does the man who caused the harm, i.e. human life. Further, the "life" is contrasted to eye, hand, foot, etc. - body parts. Hence, the baby is not just a body part! He has "life." The unborn baby is a human being just as much as the man is!
That which has been conceived and lives in the mother's womb from conception on is referred to by God as a "child," a "son" or "daughter," an "infant," a "baby," a "man-child," etc. The woman in whose womb it lives is a "mother." No human being anywhere in the Bible is identified by terms that are more distinctly human than these terms; yet God repeatedly chose these terms to describe unborn life. God makes no distinction between born and unborn life. He uses exactly the same terms for both. To Him they are the same, therefore we should view them as having the same nature.
Remember that we established from the beginning that the life in the mother's womb is human life. The only question to be settled was whether it is a distinct individual from its mother or just part of the mother's body. Consider the force of the evidence we have now examined:
Hands, feet, eyes, fingers, etc., are parts of a mother's body, but they are never referred to by the terms that are used for unborn babies. Nor is a woman ever called a "mother" just because she has these body parts.
Why is this so? Because "child," "son," "baby," etc., are terms that clearly imply a separate human individual, not just a part of the mother's body. God's choice of terms distinguishes the unborn baby from the mother's body. The unborn is a separate individual, not just part of the mother.
Abortion defenders universally refuse to use Bible language when referring to an unborn baby. They call it a "fetus" or "the product of conception" or "an unwanted pregnancy" or "foreign tissue." Never, never will they call it a "baby," a "child," an "infant," nor will they ever refer to the pregnant woman as a "mother." In fact, workers in abortion clinics are trained to avoid these terms (Rutherford Institute, Spring, 1988).
Why do abortion defenders refuse to use the terms that God uses for the unborn baby (1 Peter 4:11)? Because they refuse to admit it has the nature that God believes it has! This is a deliberate effort to disguise the humanity of the unborn child. The very fact that these folks refuse to use terms like "baby," "child," "son," "infant," etc., proves that they know these terms imply a separate human individual. Abortion defenders do not speak as God speaks, because they do not believe what God believes!
Some folks claim that God the Father and Jesus are the same individual, not separate individuals. We refer them to the many passages that mention Jesus as the Son of God the Father. A person cannot be his own father or his own son. A father and his son make two separate individuals (cf. John 8:16-18).
Likewise we know that, when a woman has given birth to a son, she and her son are two separate individuals. A mother cannot be the same person as her son.
But we have now learned that, when a woman has conceived, the life in her womb is her "son" (or "daughter") and she is its "mother." If God the Father is a separate individual from Jesus Christ His Son, and if a mother is a separate individual from a son to whom she has given birth, then in the very same way a mother must be a separate individual from the son or daughter in her womb.
Bible believers must conclude that the child who has been conceived and lives in its mother's womb is a separate and distinct individual from its parents - a living human being. May we then deliberately kill this human being?
The Scriptures have established that the unborn life in the mother's womb is a human individual from conception on. Therefore, we will not hesitate to refer to it as a human being or person. How then should we treat this unborn life? May we deliberately kill it? Surely we must be guided by exactly the same rules or principles we should follow in our treatment of any other "child" or "baby." What are these rules?
In Matthew 5:21,22, Jesus not only condemned murder, He also condemned the underlying attitude that leads people to commit murder. He forbade hatred and disrespect for the worth of a human being (cf. 1 John 3:15).
This same problem is what leads to abortion: people do not appreciate the value and worth of the unborn human being. They speak of "unwanted children," and they argue that, if the mother does not "want" to have the child, she may kill it. Aside from passages that specifically mention killing, the Bible condemns abortion by condemning the attitude that leads to it.
Children should be viewed as a blessing, a source of happiness and joy to their parents. ("Children" is from the Hebrew word BEN, the same word referring to the unborn child in Genesis 25:21,22; etc.) Unborn babies are children, and parents should appreciate children as a blessing from God. (See also Psalm 113:9.)
People who have a scriptural attitude will never kill unborn babies because they will never want to. Abortion is the grossest form of ingratitude for a blessing given by God.
God has made the parents stewards of their children. A steward is a person who has been entrusted with something that belongs to someone else. He is responsible to care for it and use it to accomplish the purpose of the one to whom it belongs. He will be condemned and punished by the owner or master if he abuses or misuses that which has been entrusted to him (Luke 12:42-46; Matt. 25:14-30; 1 Cor. 4:2).
An unborn child is a particular blessing that has been given into our care, just as surely as is a child that has been born. We have the same God-given duty toward an unborn child as we do toward one that has been born.
What is our duty toward a child, born or unborn? We should care for it and provide for it (cf. Matt. 7:7-11; 1 Tim. 5:8; 2 Cor. 12:14). Above all, we should train our children to learn God's will and serve Him (Prov. 22:6; Eph. 6:4). If we kill them, we defeat God's purpose for their lives. How can we "train up" and "bring up" those whom we have killed?!
Abortion is the grossest form of child abuse and the most extreme perversion of parental responsibility. God will not fail to hold us accountable.
Mothers are commanded to love their children. But an unborn baby is a "child," and a woman who has conceived is a mother even before the baby is born. Note that a mother is to love both her child and her husband (Titus 2:4). Which one may she kill?
Love for others is the second greatest command in the Bible (Matt. 22:37-39). The Bible tells us how we should act toward those we love (1 Cor. 13:4-7). This teaching definitely does not allow us to kill others (Rom. 13:8-10).
1 Thessalonians 2:7 - A mother should be gentle and cherish her child. Simple observation shows that God designed the mother's womb so an unborn baby will be protected, provided for, and kept safe. It is contrary to God's design to attack and kill an unborn baby.
If you would not want someone to kill you, then you should not kill an unborn baby (Matthew 7:12). Indeed, Jesus considers the treatment we give children to be the very treatment we give Him (Matthew 18:5). Our eternal destiny depends on how we treat others (Matt. 25:34-46). Since the unborn baby is a "child," we must treat it in harmony with these passages.
This phrase is also translated "heartless," "unloving," and "callous." Vine's dictionary says it includes those who are without "love of kindred, especially of parents for children."
The desire of a mother to see her child live is so much a natural characteristic of motherly love that Solomon used it to determine who was the true mother of a child (1 Kings 3:26,27). Mothers who have miscarriages naturally tend to grieve deeply. To them the child that died was very real. Clearly, natural affection should include love for the unborn child.
Nevertheless, there are those who are condemned before God because they are "without" this "natural affection." There is no better term than this to describe one who would deliberately kill the innocent human being conceived within her.
Please observe that we have now established that abortion is wrong even without (thus far) examining passages specifically dealing with murder, killing, etc. We will see shortly that abortion fits the Bible definition of murder; but even if it did not, it would still be sinful for other reasons. Abortion is wrong because it is unloving, it destroys a God-given blessing, and it constitutes gross abuse of our stewardship to raise our children as God directs.
Furthermore, we have now learned the key to solving the problem of abortion: if parents would learn to love, appreciate, and fulfill their responsibilities toward their children, they would not want to kill them. Pro-abortion groups (like the Planned Parenthood Federation) are absolutely right when they affirm that every child has a right to be loved and wanted. But they are dead wrong when they say that the solution is to let mothers murder unwanted and unloved children. On the contrary, the solution is to teach mothers their responsibility to love, appreciate, and care for their children, born or unborn.
Many passages teach us not to deliberately kill innocent human beings (this is often described as shedding of blood; cf. Gen. 37:21,22; Lev. 17:11,12,14). Here are just a few of these passages:
Exodus 23:7 - Do not kill the innocent and righteous.
Proverbs 6:16,17 - God hates hands that shed innocent blood.
Revelation 21:8; 22:15 - Murderers will be outside the holy city in the lake of fire.
Matthew 15:19,20 - Murder is a sin that proceeds from the heart and defiles he who commits it.
Romans 13:8-10 - If you love your neighbor, you will not kill. (Cf. Ex. 20:13; Deut. 5:17; James 2:11.)
In addition, there are a number of specific passages that deserve our attention.
(See also Gen. 4:8-11; Jer. 7:5-7; 22:3; Joel 3:19; Hos. 4:1,2; Lev. 24:17,21; Ex. 21:12-15; 1 John 3:15; 1 Pet. 4:15.)
The land was polluted with blood because people shed the innocent blood of their "sons and daughters." But unborn babies are "sons and daughters"; they are "children." What then is the condition of our land when over one million "sons and daughters" have been legally killed every year since 1973?
And note that God considers these to be His children (Ezekiel 16:20,21). They belong to Him, and have simply been put in our care. What right do we have to slay God's children?
("Sons" in Psalms 106:37,38 and "children" in Ezek. 16:21 come from the Hebrew word BEN, also used for unborn babies in Genesis 25:21,22, etc.)
When Joseph's brothers wanted to slay him, Reuben said, "Let us not take his life," and "Do not sin against the boy (child - KJV)." Hence, killing a child is sinning against it, but an unborn baby is a "child." (The word for "boy" or "child" in Gen. 42:22 is YELED, the same word used for the unborn baby in Ex. 21:22-25.)
Herod is considered wicked because he slew the male children in Bethlehem. Luke 2:12,16 calls such children "babes." But Luke 1:41,44 also calls unborn children "babes," so how can it be acceptable to kill them? (The word for "babes" is BREPHOS both in Luke 2:12,16 and in Luke 1:41,44. Matt. 2:16 has a different Greek word.)
Elisha wept because the Syrians would slay the Israelites, dashing their children (cf. Hosea 13:16 - their infants shall be dashed to pieces). When children or infants are dashed to pieces, it is a great tragedy to any nation. Yet unborn babies are children or infants, and in our nation they are dashed to pieces by the millions! (The Hebrew word for "children" or "infants" is OLEL, the same word used for the unborn in Job 3:16; cf. Isa. 13:16; Jer. 44:7; 9:21)
Pharaoh commanded that Israelite children be killed as soon as they were born. Exodus says they killed the "sons" or "male children," but all these same terms are used for unborn babies. Would it have been acceptable for Pharaoh to have had abortions performed to kill the babies? Is it any less wicked if people today do it?
Note, however, that God blessed the midwives who refused to kill these children at birth (Ex. 1:15-22). Likewise, God will bless us when we put an end to the murder of our unborn.
(Acts 7:19 refers to this event referring to the "babes" using the Greek word BREPHOS used for the unborn baby in Luke 1:41,44. The Hebrew words for "sons" and "male children" in Ex. 1:16-17 are BEN and YELED, used for unborn babies in Gen. 25:21-22 and Ex. 21:22-25.)
"Cursed is the one who takes a bribe (reward - KJV) to slay an innocent person." What clearer description could be given for people who operate abortion clinics? (The word for "person" is NEPHESH and is used for unborn babies translated "life" in Exodus 21:22-25.)
Though we may kill plants and animals, we are forbidden to shed man's blood because man is "in the image of God." Note again how God distinguishes "man" from plants and animals, just as we discussed regarding the creation account.
Where do unborn babies fit in this passage? They are not plants or animals, because living things reproduce after their own kind. They are the result of human reproduction, therefore they are humans in the image of God from the time they are conceived (Gen. 5:1-4). Killing an unborn baby is forbidden because it is taking the life of a human in God's image. ("Life" in Gen. 9:5 is NEPHESH, also used for the unborn baby's "life" in Ex. 21:22-25.)
We earlier showed that "fruit" here means child or baby. "Depart" (Heb. YATSA) generally means to go out or go forth. In contexts referring to departing from a mother's womb, it means to be born (study Gen. 25:25,26; Job 1:21; Jer. 1:5; 20:18; etc.). It does not imply that the baby is born dead any more than does our word "born."
Hence, "her fruit depart" simply means "her child goes forth" (Interlinear Hebrew-English Bible) or "her child is born" (LXX). The NKJV translates: "she gives birth prematurely." This of itself says nothing about the condition of the baby. (Some people assume that the expression means a miscarriage or stillbirth. The NASB mistranslates the verse this way, but the footnote gives the literal meaning: "Lit. her children come out"!)
So the baby is born. What then? It depends on whether or not "harm" has been done. Harm to whom? The Interlinear Hebrew-English Bible says: "And when men fight, and they strike a pregnant woman, and her children [sic] goes forth, and there is no injury; surely he shall be fined ... But if injury occurs, you shall give life for life ..." Clearly the concern is not just for whether the mother has been harmed, but also for the condition of the child that is born.
So, if the baby is born prematurely, but there is no injury (to either child or mother), then the man is fined for the trouble he caused (v22). If there is injury to child or mother, then the man should receive the same kind of injury he caused, including "life for life" (vv 23-25). Hence, the unborn baby has "life" just as the man does, and the law said anyone who killed that unborn baby should be punished the same as if he had killed any other human (cf. Ex. 21:12-15; Rom. 1:29,32; Rev. 21:8).
Some people reject this explanation, because they say it would be too harsh to kill a man for killing an unborn baby, especially when he didn't mean to. Yet everyone agrees that the man would be killed if the mother died as a result of this act, so why is the punishment too harsh if the baby dies? (See also vv 16,17.)
This is an Old Testament law. Yet the passage proves that the unborn baby has "life" exactly like all other humans, and this "life" is inherent in the nature of the child. These truths would not change in the New Testament.
Furthermore, the loosest possible view is that the passage requires a fine for killing the unborn baby. This view would not disprove the humanity of the baby, since not all killing of humans was punishable by death (see vv. 20,21). Yet it still proves the act is a sin of some kind, else why should the man pay a fine? So even the loosest view of this passage proves that abortion is wrong. The correct meaning, however, is that killing the unborn was killing a human individual.
The Bible shows that one must have authority or sanction from God in order to take any form of life. We may kill plants and animals because God expressly gives us this right (Gen. 1:29; 9:2,3; Acts 10:9-16; etc.) However, we must not kill innocent humans without express approval (although man is not held guilty if the killing was accidental - Num. 35:9-31; Deut. 19:1-13).
We have shown conclusively that it is just as wrong to kill an unborn baby as it is to kill any other human being. Yet if anyone still thinks we have not proved our case, before he approves of abortion he must show convincing evidence that killing unborn babies is acceptable to God. It is not enough just to dismiss our case; the one who defends abortion must establish his case by positive evidence from Scripture! If he cannot do so, then to participate in the practice would be acting without Divine authority, which is also sinful (Rom. 14:23; Col. 3:17; 2 John 9-11; etc.). So long as any doubt remains, we must not kill that innocent human life (Romans 14:23).
People who commit murder (or who consent with those who do) are worthy of death spiritually. Those who approve such acts have rejected faith in God (vv 28,29). They exalt their own wisdom, but are actually extremely foolish (vv 21,22). They become involved in religious and sexual perversions, including homosexuality and immorality of all kinds (vv 23-32).
This shows the root reasons why people defend such practices as abortion, homosexuality, etc. They reject Divine creation (vv 20,21) and conclude that man evolved from lower animals. They no longer have a real conviction about the true God, so they explain away God's moral laws and disregard the fact that man was made in God's image.
We should not be surprised, then, that the groups that most vocally defend abortion are generally the same groups that defend evolution, homosexuality, etc. For example, the Humanist Manifestos defend atheism and evolution, and they also defend abortion, homosexuality, premarital sex, etc. Similar statements can be made about such groups as the American Civil Liberties Union, the National Education Association, the National Council of Churches, the National Organization of Women, the Planned Parenthood Federation of America, etc.
Remember, however, that right and wrong are ultimately determined, not by people, but by God Who will judge each of us for our lives (2 Cor. 5:10; Matt. 25:31-46).
Please note that we have proved that abortion is wrong without discussing the issue of whether or not the baby possesses a spirit. When God uses terms to describe the unborn baby and then uses the very same terms to describe what we are forbidden to kill, that proves we should not kill an unborn baby! The unborn baby is a human individual, so we may no more kill it than we may kill any other human individual. Further evidence about the spirit is not needed.
However, as an interesting side issue it follows as a corollary that the unborn baby has a spirit, simply because every living human body has a spirit. Regarding a human body, James 2:26 says that the spirit and biological life are present simultaneously or absent simultaneously. You can't have one without the other. If the body did not have a spirit, it would be "dead." If the body is alive, the spirit must be present.
There is no exception for any human body in the Bible. A body without spirit cannot be alive, just as faith without works cannot be alive. The unborn baby has a human body that is alive; therefore it has a spirit.
But again, we need not prove the presence of the spirit to know that abortion is wrong. Matthew 10:28 and Luke 12:4,5 describe killing as deliberately ending the biologic life of a human "body." Killing the body is as far as man can go, because he cannot harm the spirit. Hence, to prove that abortion is murder, we need only to prove that the unborn baby has a human body which is biologically alive. We have already proved this. Therefore, abortion is murder.
The unborn is described in terms that mean human individuals. It fits the definition of what the Bible says we must not kill. Nothing more is needed.
The Bible teaches that abortion violates God's will. Defenders of abortion, however, usually try to open the door by emotional appeals to traumatic cases. If these exceptions are granted, they proceed to argue for abortion on demand.
A close examination of the reasons for abortion, however, will actually strengthen the general conclusion that abortion should be avoided. Consider the following reasons for abortion.
Abortion defenders use rape and the mother's health to argue for lax abortion laws, but these cases are a microscopic proportion of all abortions.
In any year, women who are divorced, separated, widowed, or never-married account for at least 75% of all abortions. According to the US Centers for Disease Control in 2002, 82% of all abortions were performed on unmarried women ("Abortion Surveillance --- United States, 2002," www.cdc.com).
These figures, however, are deceptively low because: (1) many married women abort babies conceived as a result of adultery; (2) many unmarried women claim to be married to cover up fornication.
Clearly, the vast majority of abortions occur so women can escape embarrassment and inconvenience resulting from fornication.
The Bible repeatedly states that the sexual relationship is honorable within marriage but condemned outside marriage (Heb. 13:4; 1 Cor. 6:9-11; 7:2-5; Rev. 21:8; Gal. 5:19-21; etc.)
Yet, abortion defenders are usually the same people who excuse sexual immorality. They almost never rebuke fornication. They promote sex education programs based on contraception, not abstinence. They claim they object to "imposing morality" on others, then proceed to impose legal abortion on society, including millions of unborn babies!
Incredible amounts of time, money, and effort are spent for clinics, referral agencies, sex education, and political and legal maneuvers to promote abortion. If these efforts were instead spent to promote premarital chastity and marital fidelity, the need for abortion could be substantially reduced.
Deuteronomy 24:16 says: "The fathers shall not be put to death for the children, neither shall the children be put to death for the fathers: every man shall be put to death for his own sin." Justice is one of the weightier matters of the law (Matt. 23:23). May we kill an innocent baby after it is born, because its parents sinned? No, and killing an unborn baby for his parents' sin is likewise a miscarriage of justice.
In 2 Samuel 11 and 12, David committed adultery with Bathsheeba, and she conceived. To cover up the sin, David had Bathsheeba's husband killed, then he married her. Today people would simply have the baby killed before it was born! Why is it wrong to cover up by killing the innocent husband, but acceptable to cover up by killing the innocent baby?
Throughout history sinners have killed innocent people in an attempt to hide their own guilt. Cain killed Abel. Sinners killed Jesus, Stephen, and the apostles. Criminals kill witnesses. And today fornicators kill unborn children.
We oppose abortion, not because we want the mother to be punished for her sins, but because we don't want the baby to be killed for the mother's sin. "The way of the transgressor is hard" (Prov. 13:15). Fornication is wrong. But it simply compounds the error to allow the guilty parents to escape the consequences of their sin by killing an innocent person. Two wrongs do not make a right!
Guilt for fornication cannot be removed by killing the innocent baby (Prov. 28:13). The only way to remove guilt is to repent, confess, forsake sin, and be cleansed by the blood of Jesus Christ (Mark 16:15,16; Acts 2:38; 22:16; Hebrews 7:25; 5:9; Matthew 11:29,30).
Many parents are simply unwilling to care for the baby they conceived. They may not want to spend the necessary time or money. They may think they are not "ready" for children or they already have enough children. Maybe the child will interfere with the mother's career. Maybe a child born later in life will be an unwanted burden. Some even get abortions if the baby is not the sex they want!
In such cases, some argue that the mother should have the "right to choose" not to give birth to the baby: hence, "abortion on demand."
Inconvenience or responsibility that a person causes, no more justifies killing him before he is born than it does after he is born. We have no right to kill a child, parent, spouse, or any other person simply because we do not want to care for them.
It is a principle of Biblical and civil law that the rights of one individual end when they infringe on the rights of another individual. For example, I have the right to drive a car, but I do not have the right to drive your car without your permission.
Likewise, a woman does have a right to avoid being pregnant - as long as she is not yet pregnant! After she has conceived, however, the rights of another person must be considered: the baby within her. To kill that other person would be sinful. (Note: even if the baby was just a part of the mother's body - which it isn't - still the Bible denies that "a woman has the right to do what she wants with her body." Study 1 Cor. 6:19,20; Rom. 12:1,2; 6:12-19.)
One of the biggest problems in society is people who want freedom without responsibility. Certain acts automatically demand responsibility. To avoid the responsibilities, we may choose to avoid the act; but we are not free to participate in the act and still avoid the responsibilities.
For example, a man may choose not to drive a car. But if he chooses to drive, then he automatically obligates himself to drive according to the traffic laws. People who want the privilege of driving without obeying the laws are irresponsible, illegal, and immoral.
Likewise, a man may choose not to marry (1 Cor. 7:27,28). But if he chooses to marry, he automatically becomes responsible to love and provide for his wife (1 Tim. 5:8; Eph. 5:25-29). Far too many people want the privileges of marriage without the responsibilities that go with it.
Likewise, if a man and woman choose to enjoy the sexual union, they automatically assume the responsibility to care for any child that may result (Eph. 6:4; 1 Tim. 5:8; Prov. 22:6; etc.). So if a woman wants to avoid pregnancy, the time to exercise that choice is before she has a sexual relationship. When a couple chooses to engage in sexual relations but then kills the baby they conceived, their actions are irresponsible, immoral, and ought to be illegal. It is gross inconsistency to say that a woman has a "right to choose" not to be pregnant, even after she chose to participate in the act that made her pregnant!
Young people, remember: The way to avoid the consequences of an act is to avoid the act! If you do not have the scriptural right to become parents, or if you are not willing to become parents, then do not participate in the act that God designed for reproduction! Furthermore, do not participate in sexually suggestive activities that may overwhelm your emotions. Participating in sexual relations makes you a debtor to raise any child that results. If you don't want the debt, then avoid the act that may make you a debtor!
Pro-abortionists ignore the fact that the unborn baby is a human being, but emphasize instead "quality and dignity" of life. They say abortion is justified if the baby might be deformed, poor, abused, or neglected. These are real problems, but is abortion the right solution?
(Note that people often defend abortion as an act of mercy to the child, when their real concern is to avoid inconvenience for the parents. If so, then we are back to the previous case.)
"Quality" and "dignity" of life are relative terms. Who gets to decide, and where do you draw the line, especially regarding an unborn child who has no voice in the decision? Once you justify the killing of innocent humans, where do you stop? Consider some examples.
* Should we kill an unborn child that might be deformed?
Based on medical techniques such as amniocentesis and ultrasound, parents are sometimes advised to abort an unborn baby who might have a birth defect.
But where do you draw the line? The techniques are often inaccurate, and they cannot tell how bad the deformity will be. Many normal babies have been aborted as a result. How great must be the probability and how extreme must be the deformity to justify killing? Further, the vast majority of handicapped people prefer to live rather than die. Handicapped children are often a beautiful blessing to their parents. How do we know ahead of time that the "quality of life" truly justifies killing?
* Should we kill an unborn baby that might suffer poverty?
If so, how poor must the family be? Might their circumstances improve in the future? Might other people help with the financial burden? Are all poor people miserable? Some of the greatest people in the history of the world were born into poverty. Should they have all been aborted?
* Should we kill an unborn baby that might be neglected or abused?
How can we be sure it will be abused or neglected? How badly abused and neglected must it be to justify killing it? Again, neglect and abuse are sins of the parents. Why kill the child for the parents' sins (Deut. 24:16)? Why not instead teach the parents to love and care for the child, and if they will not do so, why not have the government punish the parents (Rom. 13:1-7)?
To really oppose child abuse you must oppose abortion: it is the ultimate child abuse!
The Bible says innocent humans should not be deliberately killed. When we leave this absolute standard, no stopping place can be convincingly defended. We are a ship at sea in a storm with no rudder, chart, or compass.
Abortion is the first step toward mercy killing ("euthanasia"). If we can kill an unborn baby because it might be deformed, poor, etc., then why not kill all humans who have those problems? What is the difference in moral principle? Further, before the baby is born, we don't really know it will have these problems, so why not wait till after it is born? Then we can decide on the basis of better information whether or not to murder it!
The fact is that the killing of born babies is already a reality! Hospital attendants across the country are reporting deformed babies that were set aside to die without food or attention.
And why not also kill the insane, elderly, and chronically ill? This too is being defended. The Humanist Manifestos defend the right to abortion (page 18) and the right to euthanasia and suicide (page 19). Organized movements are promoting mercy killing. Doctors make headlines for "assisted suicides." Various states are considering laws to grant doctors the right to kill terminally ill patients.
And all of this has been practiced before ... in Nazi Germany! That brings us to genocide or the "holocaust." If we can kill people because we think they have an inferior quality of life or are a burden on others, how can we condemn the Nazis who killed millions of Jews (along with the unborn, deformed, elderly, etc.) whom they considered to be inferior and a burden on society? And what about the Communists who have killed millions of "Capitalists" for the same reason? Millions of Christians have been martyred because others thought they were unfit to live.
The quality of life argument is just a way of saying we have decided some people are unfit to live. What do you say when someone decides you are the one who is unfit to live? Matthew 7:12.
All these people are just Humanists who accept the logical consequences of evolution. If men are just animals, not in the image of God, there are any number of "reasons" why we should put them out of their misery, just like we do animals. But if there is a God who created man in His own image and who forbids the killing of innocent humans, then abortion, euthanasia, and genocide are all immoral for the same reasons.
* Do not do violence to troubled people, but protect and assist them.
Psalm 37:14 - It is wicked to do violence to the "poor and needy." Yet abortion and euthanasia defenders say to kill them!
Job 29:15,16 - Job was eyes to the blind, feet to the lame, and a father to the needy. Don't kill them; help them!
Matthew 25:34-46 - Our eternal destiny depends on whether or not we aid the sick, needy, disadvantaged, and unfortunate. The way we treat these people is the way we treat Jesus Christ.
(See also Gal. 6:2; Luke 14:12-14; Psalm 82:3,4; Jer. 22:3; Deut. 15:7,8,11; Isa. 1:17.)
* Have faith that God can help people endure any problem they may face.
1 Corinthians 10:13 - God will not allow us to be tempted beyond our ability. He will always make a way of escape, so we can endure the hardship.
Philippians 4:10-13 - Paul said he had learned to be content, even in prison. "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me."
Instead of using problems as an excuse for murder, we should trust in God's help. People, who justify killing to escape problems, simply display their lack of faith in God.
(See also Rom. 8:31-39; James 5:10,11; Psalm 46:1; 34:19.)
* Understand that spiritual matters outweigh the physical, and physical problems can produce spiritual benefits.
Proverbs 28:6 - A poor man with integrity is better than a perverse rich man.
Matthew 18:8 - It is better to receive eternal life maimed and lame than to be physically whole and receive eternal punishment.
2 Corinthians 12:7-10 - God chose not to remove Paul's physical thorn in the flesh, because it made him a better person spiritually. Many people can testify to the blessings they have received as a result of physical hardships. (See also 1 Peter 1:6,7; Rom. 8:28; 5:3-5.)
1 Samuel 16:7; Luke 12:15 - God does not judge men according to outward appearance, but He looks on the heart. A man's life consists not of the abundance of things he possesses.
A fatal error of the "quality of life" argument is that it invariably measures "quality of life" in terms of physical circumstances. Instead, true quality of life is determined by ones character and service to God. This cannot be measured by any medical technique!
The "quality of life" argument is based on a false and perverted standard of human worth. The Bible, however, does not just forbid doing violence to innocent people. It also shows how to deal with the problems life brings.
(See also Prov. 15:16,17; 16:8; 1 Tim. 6:6-10; James 2:5.)
This case is difficult because everyone sympathizes with the woman who has been forced against her will. Bad as rape is, it is harder still to think the victim must then give birth to a baby she conceived against her will. All this, however, is human reasoning and emotion. We must remember that God's ways are higher than ours, and we must submit our will to His (Isa. 55:8,9; Jer. 10:23; Prov. 14:12; 1 Cor. 1:18-25; Luke 16:15).
Consider these facts:
Rape itself is not rare, unfortunately; but it rarely leads to conception. Consider the following statistics for conceptions from rape in major cities: Chicago - no cases in 9 years; Buffalo - no cases in 30 years; St. Paul - no cases in 10 years (3500 rapes); Philadelphia - no cases in 19 1/2 years. One survey polled doctors who had delivered a total of 19,000 births, but not one of these doctors had ever delivered a baby conceived as a result of rape. (U.S. Congressional Record, 7/25/83; Handbook on Abortion, by Dr. and Mrs. J. C. Wilke, pp 38,39).
The percentage of abortions that occur as a result of real rape is infinitesimal. If, however, rape were considered a justifiable cause for obtaining an abortion, we could be sure that many women would falsely claim they were raped, just to get an abortion!
It is still wrong to kill the baby because the father sinned - Deuteronomy 24:16. Every passage we have studied that condemns killing innocent humans would still apply in this case. What if we discover after it has been born that it was conceived as a result of rape? Could we kill it?
True, the consequence is that the woman must give birth to the child. Unfortunately, in this life innocent people often suffer the consequences of wrongs done by evil people. Drunken drivers kill or injure innocent people. Thieves steal from innocent people. The Bible contains many such examples (Acts 2:23; 1 Peter 4:12-16; John 15:18-20; 2 Cor. 11:23-26; 1 Thess. 3:2-4).
But none of this justifies harming other innocent people. Joseph was sold into slavery by his brothers, but did not use this to justify doing wrong to others (Gen. chaps. 37,39-41). Jesus suffered at the hands of wicked men, but He did not wrong others because of it. We should imitate His example (1 Pet. 2:19-24). We must do good even when we have been wronged (Rom. 12:17-21).
And remember 1 Corinthians 10:13; Philippians 4:13. God will provide what we need to do His will. Again, we should comfort and help one another and trust in God for strength. Two wrongs still do not make a right. And above all, nothing here changes the Bible principles we have studied. Remember, the real reason people want legal abortion is to cover up fornication or to avoid inconvenience to the parents!
The principles we have already discussed would adequately deal with abortion for the comfort, general health, or emotional well being of the mother. But what if the mother herself would die if the pregnancy continues?
"Thousands of physicians across the United States, each of whom has cared for hundreds of mothers and infants during their respective years of practice, state firmly they have never in those thousands of pregnancies seen a single instance where the life of the infant had to be sacrificed to save the mother, nor have they seen a situation where a mother has been lost for failure of a physician to perform an abortion ... abortion is never necessary, because competent physicians, using the latest medical and surgical techniques, can preserve the lives of both the mother and the child" - Dr. John Grady (Family Review, Spring, 1981).
"Today it is possible for almost any patient to be brought through pregnancy alive, unless she suffers from a fatal illness such as cancer or leukemia and, if so, abortion would be unlikely to prolong, much less save, life" - Alan Guttmacher of Planned Parenthood, 1954 (via Allen Co. R.T.L. News, 10/81).
Dr. Joseph DiZoglio questioned a number of doctors who did abortions (including one who did 15-20,000): "...all said they have never performed an abortion that was absolutely for medical reasons ... Never means never - not one case" - (Allen Co. R.T.L. News, 10/81).
"...the reasons for therapeutic abortion (to save the mother's life) have disappeared" -Dr. John Hand, (ibid.)
"Abortion is never necessary to save the life of the mother" - Dr. Joseph P. Donnelly (ibid.).
"Medical reasons for provoking abortion are just about non-existent. In fact, no basis on pure medical grounds ever really stands up" - Dr. Bernard Pisani, Family Review, 1981.
The life-of-the-mother argument is the abortionists' last resort, but their "battering ram" is a wet noodle! The problem simply does not exist, so why should we compromise Bible principle?
Difficult decisions should treat the unborn as fully human as if it had been born. Even if exceptions did exist, they would still just be exceptions. The exception is not the rule. The rule is to be determined by Bible principles, not by alleged exceptions.
In cases of doubt, remember Romans 14:23 and have faith in God to help with our needs in answer to prayer.
The Bible teaches that the baby who has been conceived and lives in its mother's womb is a living human being, a separate and distinct person from its parents. Therefore, it has just as much right to live as any other human being. To deliberately kill it would be just as wrong as killing any other innocent human being.
Abortion is wrong, therefore, because it is a failure to love, appreciate, and care for a human baby. It is also wrong because it constitutes the deliberate killing of an innocent human being.
The Bible provides the necessary steps to solve the abortion "dilemma" for those who are willing to respect its teachings:
(1) Flee fornication.
(2) Learn to love, appreciate, and care for the baby.
(3) Learn to trust God for the strength to face any hardships life brings. Study His word, pray, and seek help from other Christians.
(4) Help others who have needs or problems caused by the birth of a baby.
(5) Speak out in defense of life. Seek to deliver those who are about to be slain (Prov. 24:11,12). Do not compromise with sin, but reprove it (Eph. 5:11; 2 Tim. 4:2-4; Prov. 28:4; Gal. 6:1, etc.).
What should a woman do if she has aborted a baby and now realizes she did wrong? She does not need to spend the rest of her life with the burden of unforgiven guilt. The Bible says abortion is wrong, but it also gives something else that humanistic beliefs cannot give: a source of true forgiveness for guilt. God will forgive if we will come to Him according to His conditions. Read and obey these passages: Rom. 1:16; 6:3,4; 10:9,10; Mark 16:16; Acts 17:30; 2:38; 22:16.
Copyright 1984, 1994, 1999, 2008, David E. Pratte
Local churches and individuals may, within limits, distribute this Bible study guide for free, but not for sale. Web sites may link to this page but not reproduce it. For details click here for our copyright guidelines.
To purchase this material in quantity in printed form, visit our publication web site at www.lightomypath.net/sales.
for God, Jesus, & the Bible
The Importance of Bible Instruction
The Consequences of Evolution
Bible Inspiration: Infallible, Inerrant, Verbal
How Can You Be Sure of Forgiveness?
God Helps Your Troubles & Problems
Suicide: Moral or Immoral?
Humanism, Atheism, & Immorality
|Bible Courses, Commentaries, Class Books | Blog | Contact Us|
|Audio Bible study recordings | Bible Articles by Email|
Links from other web sites to this page or to our
home page are welcome and encouraged:
www.gospelway.com The Gospel Way: Free Bible Study Online Materials & Guides
Scripture quotations are generally from the New King James Version (NKJV), copyright 1982, 1988 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. used by permission. All rights reserved.