What does the Bible say about abortion?

The Bible does not specifically mention the word abortion, but it has a number of significant things to say about unborn children.  These Biblical statements indicate that the unborn are persons.  Therefore, abortion is wrong since it is killing a human being.  A simplified form of our argument is the following:

Premise #1: It is wrong to murder a person.
Premise #2: The unborn is a person.
Conclusion: Therefore, it is wrong to murder the unborn.

Premise #1: It is wrong to murder a person.

There are few objections to the notion that it is wrong to murder a person.  Murder is the unlawful taking of someone’s life, while killing is the lawful taking of someone’s life.  For just a small sample of the Biblical passages forbidding murder, see Gen. 9:6; Mt. 15:19; 19:18; Mk. 10:19; Lk. 18:20; Jn. 8:44; Acts 3:14; and Rom. 1:28-29; 13:9.

Premise #2: The unborn is a person.

It is this premise which is disputed by many in our culture today.  However, the Bible clearly teaches that the unborn is a person due to the following reasons.

Possession of Personal Attributes

First, the unborn possesses personal attributes such as sin and joy.  In Psalm 51:5, David says, “Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, And in sin my mother conceived me.”  In Luke 1:44, “For behold, when the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the baby leaped in my womb for joy.”

Described by Personal Pronouns

Second, the Bible also uses personal pronouns to describe unborn children.  Jeremiah 1:5 says, “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, And before you were born I consecrated you; I have appointed you a prophet to the nations.”  Matthew 1:20-21 states, “But when he had considered this, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, ‘Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife; for the Child who has been conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit.  She will bear a Son; and you shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins.’”

Jesus: A Baby at Conception

Third, regarding the conception of Jesus, Matthew 1:20 says, “But when he had considered this, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, ‘Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife; for the Child who has been conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit.’”  The fact that the angel tells Joseph that “the Child who has been conceived” is “of the Holy Spirit” indicates that Jesus certainly was a person at the moment of conception.

Called Children

Fourth, the unborn are called children.  Luke 1:41 states, “When Elizabeth heard Mary's greeting, the baby leaped in her womb; and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit (1:44).”

Protected by the same Punishment as for Adults

Fifth, perhaps the strongest argument against abortion from Scripture is the fact that the same punishment is applicable to someone who kills or injures an unborn child as for one who kills or injures an adult.  Exodus 21:22-23 states, “If men struggle with each other and strike a woman with child so that she gives birth prematurely, yet there is no injury, he shall surely be fined as the woman's husband may demand of him, and he shall pay as the judges decide.  But if there is any further injury, then you shall appoint as a penalty life for life . . . " This strongly indicates that the Mosaic Law viewed the unborn as persons worthy of the same protection and rights as adults.

Called by God before Birth

Sixth, the unborn are even called by God before birth.  Almost echoing the prophetic commission of Jeremiah in Jeremiah 1:5, Isaiah 49:1 says, “Listen to me, O islands, And pay attention, you peoples from afar, the LORD called me from the womb; from the body of my mother He named me.”

Known Personally by God just like any other Person

Seventh, the unborn are known personally and intimately by God in the same way He would know any other person.  Describing David, Psalm 139:15-16 says, “My frame was not hidden from You, when I was made in secret, and skillfully wrought in the depths of the earth; Your eyes have seen my unformed substance; and in Your book were all written; the days that were ordained for me, when as yet there was not one of them.”  Describing the prophet Jeremiah, Jeremiah 1:5 says, “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you; I have appointed you a prophet to the nations.”

Conclusion

The Bible definitely teaches that the unborn are persons because the unborn possess personal attributes, are described by personal pronouns, Jesus is called a child at conception, the unborn are called children, are protected by the same punishment as for adults, are called by God before birth, and are known personally by God just like any other person.  Since abortion is murdering a person, abortion is morally wrong (Gen. 9:6; Rom. 1:28-29).

Sources

  • Norman Geisler, Systematic Theology.

 

 

 

 
 
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