I'm sure that most of us agree that abortion is sinful and certainly not okay...most of the time. However, I'm thinking of two rare circumstances that may be exceptions.

  1. The mother would die but the baby would (probably) live if an abortion is not performed.
  2. The mother AND the (still-living) baby would die if an abortion is not performed.

Does the Bible (or some other significant work) provide any perspective on these questions?

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    Most of us. Count me in the minority. Not that I'm surprised... :-P (No, abortion is not okay per se... everyone should do their utmost to avert it. But not by law, and not by force.) – Jürgen A. Erhard Aug 28 '11 at 3:30
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This is a difficult topic. Some biblical references would help to understand how God views an unborn child:

God views the life of a child as precious even during the very early stages of development after conception:

Psalms 139:13-16

For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. 14 I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. 15 My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place, when I was woven together in the depths of the earth. 16 Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.

God stated that a person would be called to account for injury to an unborn child:

Exodus 21:22,23

If people are fighting and hit a pregnant woman and she gives birth prematurely[a] but there is no serious injury, the offender must be fined whatever the woman’s husband demands and the court allows.

It's a very serious sin to willfully take a human life for any reason not authorized by God:

Genesis 9:6

Whoever sheds human blood, by humans shall their blood be shed; for in the image of God has God made mankind.

Exodus 20:13

“You must not murder.”

So the life of a child is very valuable in God's eyes. If a medical decision must be taken between mother's or child's life, this is up to the couple. If the doctors inform the parents that the child will be born with medical problems, this is no reason to murder the child.

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    Psalms: this is usually interpreted... this way. But I disagree. The question is: when does life start? "You knit" me means I'm not finished. I'm... being made. So, am I, or am I not yet? Inconclusive. Exodus... wow, how does that relate to abortion? Not at all. Genesis 9:6? Sure... the bible is full of pacifists, right? Obviously not. So why relate Gen 9:6 to abortion? Exodus... yeah, same as for Genesis. – Jürgen A. Erhard Aug 28 '11 at 3:28
  • @Jürgen A. Erhard - what makes "you knit" a case of "being made", rather than have been made? – warren Sep 13 '11 at 17:29
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    I think the relevant question when asking "when does life begin?" is to ask "what changes in the nature of the child from the minute before the child is born to the minute after?" The full answer is too long for a comment, but the nutshell answer is: Age, location, and dependence. But none of those things affect person-hood. A friend of mine (sarcastically) advocates abortion rights up to the age of 4. Because just as much changes between the ages of 3 and 4 as between pre-birth and birth. But by the age of 4, parents will be much more educated as to whether they wish to be parents! – Flimzy Sep 17 '11 at 17:02
  • I think you should add verse 23 to Ex.21 "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." – 2tim424 Sep 20 '11 at 18:30
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    Exodus 21 says that killing an unborn child is a civil tort, not criminal law (in modern terms). If killing an unborn child was murder, the law would specify the death penalty. Clearly, in this passage, Fetal killing is a crime against property, not a crime against life. – Chris Cudmore Nov 10 '11 at 17:13

No, and this isn't surprising considering the state of medical knowledge in Old Testament times. (And it really hadn't advanced all that much by NT times.) There was no way to diagnose that carrying a pregnancy to term would put the mother's life in danger, the way we can today with electric-powered technologies such as ultrasound imaging.

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Both situations described illustrate a lack of faith in God. I would imagine that a Christian pondering the situation would either (please pardon the generalizations)

  • not believe that God knows or is able to save their lives or,
  • not believe that the outcome of carrying the baby to term would ultimately be the best outcome for for both the baby and mother.

Romans 8:28 (NIV)
And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.

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    I would change your first bullet point to "not believe that God knows what's best"--God may use the death of the mother and/or child for His glory. – Flimzy Aug 26 '11 at 22:17
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    @Filmy - I'm interested to know: how? – monba Aug 27 '11 at 0:41
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    Great. So why bother taking medicine? Perhaps God may use the death of faith healers' customer for his glory. So far it doesn't work that way though. – user4951 Nov 22 '11 at 3:37
  • @JimThio Abstaining from medicine is not a comparable scenario because taking medicine is not sinful. Murder, on the other hand, is sinful. It is my belief and the belief of many Christians that a fetus is a human being with a soul (See other answers). Therefore, terminating the pregnancy is murder. So in this situation, the most important thing for the parents is to obey God's commands as far as it depends on them and trust that God has an overall plan. Since taking medicine is not a sin in itself, there is no reason why a sick person should turn from it. – Jeff Nov 22 '11 at 18:59

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