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Is There a Christian Argument to Support Abortion?

Updated on March 22, 2013
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Bob Hunter worked for Ontario Hydro for 22 years. He later became a researcher/writer for the Christian Research Institute in California.

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Biblical Support for Abortion?

The general consensus by most Christians is that if you are, indeed, a Christian, you must be against abortion. After all, it involves the taking of a human life - in fact it is nothing less than the murder of a child. However, there are professing Christians who not only believe that abortion is okay, but that there is biblical support for holding to a pro-choice stance. Do they have a point? Can abortion be defended? Let's look at some of their arguments.

The Liberal Christian Perspective

The Rev. William (Scotty) McLennan, a Unitarian Universalist minister (and self-professed liberal Christian) has written an article defending abortion. Before looking at his defense, one must point out that, by definition, a liberal Christian is an oxymoron. If someone is going to call themselves a Christian, then they must embrace the beliefs that define a Christian. To deny the deity of Christ or salvation by grace through faith, or to hold that the Bible is a book of fairy tales, and, at the same time claim to be a Christian, is like claiming to be a Buddhist while denying the existence of Buddha and rejecting all of his teachings. Such is the situation of a Unitarian, a denomination recognized not just as liberal, but as a cult as well, a counterfeit Christian organization.

Putting the above aside for the moment, what arguments does he present to support abortion?

McLennan appeals to Luke 1 when the angel visits Mary and explains that the Child she is about to give birth to was conceived by the Holy Spirit. McLennan writes:

After she questions the angel Gabriel when he firsts visits to tell her of her favor with God, and after some soul-searching, Mary makes a voluntary decision, as the Gospel of Luke puts it, to allow the Holy Spirit to come upon her, to have the power of the Most High overshadow her. Mary says: “Here am I, the servant of the Lord; let it be with me according to your word.”

The way he phrases this it sounds like the Scriptures tell us that Mary agreed to allow the Baby to live and be born rather than get an abortion, but McLennan is reading his own interpretation into this text. Mary simply acknowledges that the word Gabriel gave Mary should be fulfilled. Nothing more.

He then goes on to admit that he doesn't believe that a fetus in the womb is fully a human being.

Yet fetus as “person” or “human being” has never been a settled question within Christianity or Judaism. There are large segments of the Judeo-Christian world that, historically and currently, see the embryo or fetus as potential human life, but not as fully human until birth or until some stage in fetal development well past conception.

First of all, the scientific world would disagree with McLennan. With the development of modern technology it has become clearer and clearer that a "fetus" is fully human.

Secondly, even if there were doubt, shouldn't the Christian demand, if there is going to be an element of doubt, that if someone is going to err on the issue, it should be on the side of safety? Why take the chance that by aborting a fetus you're killing a child?

McLennan appeals biblically to Exodus 21:20 to show that abortion is no big deal.

“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 woman’s husband demands, paying as much as the judges determine.”

Sounds convincing, doesn't it? However, McLennan is sneaky about this quote. First of all, he uses the New Revised Standard Version, which is the only version that translates it this way. Secondly, he doesn't include the next verse, which makes clear what "miscarriage" in this context, means. Here is the NIV version:

“If people are fighting and hit a pregnant woman and she gives birth prematurely but there is no serious injury, the offender must be fined whatever the woman’s husband demands and the court allows.But if there is serious injury, you are to take life for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot,

Other versions translate the passage the same way. In fact, the original Hebrew reads "and hit a pregnant woman so that her child(ren) come forth, and no harm follows, the one who hurt her shall be fined." So in context, if there is a fight and as a result the woman gives birth prematurely without serious injury, there is a fine, but if there IS serious injury - or death - then the punishment is to be the same as the injury. McLennan's argument falls apart at this point because it is obvious that God places high value on a child in the womb if the death penalty is warranted if the child dies!

McLennan also appeals to Genesis 2: 7, connecting breath and human life:

“The Lord God formed man from the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and the man became a living being.”

Note, however, that this was the birth of a fully adult man called Adam, not a child who was forming and maturing in his or her mother's womb. The situation is entirely different.

McLennan also appeals to the views throughout history of rabbis and other church leaders. However, their views are irrelevant in determining truth. It is to Scripture that we must turn to in determining the biblical view on life and abortion.

These are the only Scriptures McLennan can find in his defense of abortion, and none of them support his position.

Pro-abortion demonstration in Canada
Pro-abortion demonstration in Canada | Source

More "Biblical Support" From Beliefnet

Beliefnet, has also delved into the issue of abortion and, of course, come out with support for the practice, based on solid biblical proof. Here are their biblical verses:

The Book of Exodus clearly indicates that the fetus does not have the same legal status as a person (Chapter 21:22-23). That verse indicates that if a man pushes a pregnant woman and she then miscarries, he is required only to pay a fine. If the fetus were considered a full person, he would be punished more severely as though he had taken a life.

It would appear that Marjorie Brahms Signer, the Beliefnet defender of abortion, is also equally misleading in her appeal to Exodus 21. See above section for an explanation of this passage.

This writer would continue on with Beliefnet's biblical support for abortion, but ran into a little snag - they had no other biblical support!

Biblical Support Is Lacking

Those who profess to be Christians need to take heed that if they consider Scripture to be the final word on whether they should support abortion or be against it, then support for abortion is completely lacking. This writer searched for other articles that appealed to the Bible to defend the practice of abortion but kept running into the same two or three Scriptures dealt with above.

If those same Christians want to appeal to scientific evidence that the fetus isn't a living human being, then the scientific evidence is against them as well.

Biblical support and scientific support for abortion simply doesn't exist. Scripture DOES say the following, however:

Psalm 139:13-14

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 works are wonderful, I know that full well.

Luke 1:41

When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the baby leaped in her womb, and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit.


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    • profile image

      Patty Hunter 

      3 years ago

      Well-done, Bob... you write the truth.. excellent ... from Patty

    • Angela Blair profile image

      Angela Blair 

      5 years ago from Central Texas

      Excellent article -- and very well written. Finding support for abortion in the bible is a useless task -- it's simply not there. I do know women who claim to be Christians that support abortion -- never been able to understand that at all! Best/Sis

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