Several Protestant denominations take an official position on abortion that it can be acceptable under certain circumstances, and that in those circumstances the choice can be made by the woman.

Views on those circumstances differ, but can include cases where the mothers life is in danger, or the baby will be severely deformed, or is the product of rape or incest.

Still, some people who claim to be Christians believe that abortion is acceptable even when it is unnecessary for any reason (when the life of the mother is not at risk, and the baby is completely healthy and there was no rape or incest).

This other question asks for the biblical basis for the immorality of abortion.

What specifically is the biblical basis for the claim that abortion is NOT immoral, as many other Christians claim it to be, when it is purely elective?

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    I would welcome evidence that these denominations, or any others, hold to the view that abortion is always a valid moral choice. I know for a fact that some of the ones you cite do not believe that. Jan 4, 2013 at 17:49
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    One of the problems with the abortion debate is a tendency to assume that everyone is either 100% against abortion in all cases or believes that it is 100% allowable in all cases. The label "pro-choice" plays into that tendency, and I dislike it applied to groups that have a more nuanced view. Jan 4, 2013 at 18:03
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    I don't think there is such an argument to be made. The best you can really come up with is that abortion is not murder, but even if you interpret the verse @AffableGeek references in that way, the perpetrator is still fined, which means he did wrong, and the action is therefore immoral.
    – kurosch
    Jan 4, 2013 at 19:21
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    @kurosch: That's why the question is misleading. No church claims that all abortion is morally acceptable. However, some churches recognize that in some circumstances, a pregnancy could harm or even kill the mother. In those cases there is more than one life that needs to be protected, and the family has a responsibility to weigh the risks and make a choice. Jan 4, 2013 at 19:43
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    I don't think the recent edits help, and arguably make it worse. Abortion is always an elective act. The question you're trying to get at hinges on both the motive for the act and whether or not the act is murder. The biblical argument you are searching for doesn't exist, at best you'll find a loophole.
    – kurosch
    Jan 7, 2013 at 16:23

2 Answers 2


I personally disagree with this analysis, but typically, if a biblical basis is given, it is this:

Exodus 21:22 - 23

22 “If people are fighting and hit a pregnant woman and she gives birth prematurely[e] but there is no serious injury, the offender must be fined whatever the woman’s husband demands and the court allows. 23 But if there is serious injury, you are to take life for life, 24 eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot, 25 burn for burn, wound for wound, bruise for bruise.

The crux of the matter here is verse 23. The question is, does the "serious injury" in verse 23 refer to the child or the woman. Pro-choice Christians argue that the "serious injury" only applies to the woman - not to the baby who is born prematurely. And, the prematurely suggests that the child does not survive in the medical conditions of the day. If this is the way it is supposed to be read, this implies that the unborn child is property (and hence there is restitution) and not a full live human being. If life for life were demanded, it would be far less ambiguous.

That said, in the church where I pastored, I got roundly criticized for "politicizing my pulpit" when I recounted the story of how the Roe in Roe v. Wade eventually came to renounce her views. My congregation thought this to be a matter of personal conscience, and not a theological one. (Did I say I was a pastoring a very liberal church?) I suspect most Christians who are "pro-Choice" arrive at the position first, then seek to find Scripture to back up the position.

  • Doesn't that passage indicate that the child is merely born prematurely and is unharmed?
    – Narnian
    Jan 4, 2013 at 17:49
  • That's the crux of the matter - I should have followed the footnte. The question is, does the "serious injury" in verse 23 refer to the child or the woman. Pro-choice Christians argue that the "serious injury" only applies to the woman - not to the baby who is born permaturely. And, the prematurely suggests that the child does not survive in the medical conditions of the day. Again - I don't actually buy this reasoning - I'm just trying to give the case. Jan 4, 2013 at 17:58
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    That is the traditional interpretation of the passage. The modern interpretation is very modern indeed. (And I suspect that most Christians who are anti-choice arrive at the position first, then seek to find Scripture to back up the position. The historical evidence suggests this.)
    – TRiG
    Jan 4, 2013 at 18:37
  • @TRiG I suspect you are correct as well. :) I don't know if you're shocked to see me say this or not, but I'm willing to admit when I'm going to scripture a priori or post... Jan 4, 2013 at 18:43
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    I disagree that this is the normal biblical basis. The normal biblical basis is simply that there is nothing explicit in scripture prohibiting abortion. Jan 4, 2013 at 19:31

The Presbyterian Church of the USA is one of those that holds that abortion is not always immoral. It certainly doesn't hold that abortion is "morally acceptable" or "NOT immoral" in the general case.

Some quotes:

We affirm that the lives of viable unborn babies—those well-developed enough to survive outside the womb if delivered — ought to be preserved and cared for and not aborted. In cases where problems of life or health of the mother arise in a pregnancy, the church supports efforts to protect the life and health of both the mother and the baby.

The considered decision of a woman to terminate a pregnancy can be a morally acceptable [implying that it is sometimes not morally acceptable - ed], though certainly not the only or required, decision. Possible justifying circumstances would include medical indications of severe physical or mental deformity, conception as a result of rape or incest, or conditions under which the physical or mental health of either woman or child would be gravely threatened.

The strong Christian presumption is that since all life is precious to God, we are to preserve and protect it. Abortion ought to be an option of last resort

Abortion is unfortunately one of those subjects where there is a tendency to assume that there are only two possible extreme views, and that there is nothing in between.

The basis for this position is given on the page referenced above:

...there are no biblical texts that speak expressly to the topic of abortion, but that taken in their totality the Holy Scriptures are filled with messages that advocate respect for the woman and child before and after birth.

  • I'm not making that false premise, as I thought I noted above.
    – Narnian
    Jan 4, 2013 at 18:13
  • I think it might be an idea to edit the question then. It certainly read like that to me. Jan 4, 2013 at 18:16
  • Agreed... How's that?
    – Narnian
    Jan 4, 2013 at 18:22
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    You still seem to be giving the impression that the Presbyterian church considers abortion an acceptable choice that a woman might make in all cases. It doesn't believe that. May I recommend removing the words "pro-choice" from the question. They are not used by the church, and it is a loaded term. Jan 4, 2013 at 18:27
  • How about that? I just removed the list of churches.
    – Narnian
    Jan 4, 2013 at 18:31

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