The Biblical Pro-Choice Position
In the debate over abortion, religious groups have tended to take the pro-life side. But in recent years, we have seen a number of religious groups coming forward with a pro-choice position. These include such groups as Catholics for Choice, the Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice, etc.
What does the Bible really have to say about abortion?1
As my source for the Christian pro-choice view, I took two articles available on the Internet:2 Is the Fetus a Person, by Dr Roy Bowen Ward of the Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice, and Abortion is Not a Sin, by Poppy Dixon of Adult Christianity.
The Biblical pro-choice argument -- in summary
The general argument of these two articles (and of course many other similar ones) is essentially this:
Nowhere does the Bible specifically prohibit or condemn abortion.
Furthermore, the Bible connects life with breath. As a fetus does not breathe, therefore it is not truly alive, and so it is meaningless to talk of killing it.
They go on to rebut several arguments that pro-lifers make to demonstrate that the Bible talks about unborn babies as people. They claim that in each case, the Biblical passage is better understood as referring to the unborn simply as potential people.
Finally, Poppy goes on to argue that the pro-life position is blasphemous. God gives life, she claims, when he causes the newborn baby to begin breathing. To claim that life is given through the union of sperm and egg is to claim that human beings are giving life rather than God.
Let's examine these arguments in more detail.
Being Pro-choice is firmly grounded in the Bible.
The Biblical Basis for Being Pro-Choice: Bible, abortion, Christians, religion - Beliefnet.com
Who is pro-choice and religious?
Denominations with official and long-standing pro-choice positions include the Presbyterian Church (USA), the Episcopal Church, the United Methodist Church, the United Church of Christ, the Unitarian Universalist Association of Congregations, and Reform and Conservative Judaism. These organizations have a diversity of views about abortion and recognize it as a morally complex decision that must be made by the person most affected--the woman.
Among religious groups, the pro-choice position is nuanced, recognizing that most people believe abortion--as well as bearing children-are matters for individual conscience, not government or religious mandate. Pro-choice denominations don't seek to impose their views on others or to make them law.[ They recognize that in our pluralistic society, politicians must not be allowed to impose laws about childbearing based on any particular belief about when life begins. The notion that life begins at the moment of conception is a belief held by some, but not all, religious groups.
In fact, the Bible never mentions abortion and does not deal with the question of when life begins. Genesis 2:7 (God "breathed into his nostrils the breath of life and man became a living being") refers to the specific, unique event of the creation of Adam out of the earth. It says nothing about the process of conception, pregnancy, and birth.
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. [Editor's note: Read more detailed pro-choice and pro-life analyses of Exodus 21.][/SIZE]
Christians and Jews agree that all life is sacred--the life of a woman as well as the potential life of a fetus.
[/B]Many Protestant Christians emphasize the New Testament's teaching of the priesthood of all believers, meaning that everyone has direct access to God and therefore the ability to do God's will. [/B]