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What does the afterlife look like for an aborted baby?
What happens to their consciousness (if any)?
What happens to their spirit/soul?

Since these are presumably controversial questions, I'm interested in an overview of Christian viewpoints.


Related questions

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    Is there a reason to believe that aborted babies would suffer a different fate than miscarried ones? Or any baby that dies before they're baptized (for denominations that practice infant baptism)
    – Peter Turner
    Commented Jun 28, 2022 at 20:08
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    @PeterTurner - I don't know.
    – user50422
    Commented Jun 28, 2022 at 20:29
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    This is delving into matters too deep. Such things will be judged by the Judge of all the earth.
    – Nigel J
    Commented Jun 29, 2022 at 7:29
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    Note to answerers, this is an overview question - needs multiple viewpoints to be a real answer. christianity.meta.stackexchange.com/questions/6329/…
    – Peter Turner
    Commented Aug 11, 2022 at 12:51
  • I can only answer for Roman Catholicism. Limbo is no longer a thing; the Church's answer is, "the Church can only trust [unbaptized children] to the mercy of God." vatican.va/archive/ENG0015/__P3M.HTM
    – Maverick
    Commented Oct 14, 2022 at 13:33

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Most Christian sects, rather than giving an explicit teaching on this, would tend to say that certain views are unacceptable, and others are acceptable, under their broader theological perspective.

Since I'm a Catholic, I'm arranging this according to views acceptable under Catholic doctrine and views unacceptable under Catholic doctrine. Non-Catholic sects may hold some of the views unacceptable under Catholic doctrine as acceptable, and vice versa, some sects may hold some of the views acceptable under Catholic doctrine as unacceptable.

This list will probably not be exhaustive, although I will try to cover the most common views. Please do let me know in a comment if you believe I have missed a common view.

Views Acceptable Under Catholic Doctrine

All Aborted Babies are Saved via Martyrdom

This view typically views aborted babies as "baptized by blood," that is, they are a kind of martyr. Because of their martyrdom, they are saved without having to be baptized by water. The biblical type for this road to salvation are the Holy Innocents, the children who were killed by Herod in Bethlehem. The Church holds that these babies, though they were unbaptized and had no capacity to ask forgiveness of God, were nevertheless cleansed of original sin because they were killed in hatred of the faith (Herod was trying to kill Christ by killing them). If one holds that all abortions are done in a kind of hatred of the faith (a debatable point), one could hold that all aborted babies are saved as martyrs.

Some Aborted Babies are Saved via Invincible Ignorance

The Church holds that people can be saved via invincible ignorance, which is an ignorance of one's own sinfulness and need to repent due to no fault of one's own. Owning to their stage of development, this kind of ignorance could be easily imputed to all aborted babies. Possibly, it applies to some and not all, but it is difficult to see how it could apply to only some and not others. Therefore, "some" in this view could include all, and for many people who hold this view probably does include all.

Aborted Babies are Generally Damned

Because the baptisms of infants are valid in Catholicism owing to the intention of their baptized parents, one could generally hold that miscarried children of Christians go to heaven via the baptism of desire. It follows, then, that the children of people who are aborted generally go to hell (with perhaps some exceptions), since there is evidently no baptism of desire on the part of the parents for their child. An exception to this rule could be the case of a Christian father who desires baptism for his unborn child, but who has no say in the decision to abort. Possibly, those babies whose parents who are invincibly ignorant and abort are saved via their own invincible ignorance. This is likely a minority view in the Church today, but I would be unsurprised if this kind of thinking (that before the age of reason the disposition of a parent is important to the salvation of their unbaptized child) were more prevalent in bygone ages.

Aborted Babies go to Limbo

There is a longstanding tradition that babies who die before baptism and before the age of reason don't go to heaven or hell, but to an inbetween place where they receive neither the pains of hell nor the Beatific Vision, generally called limbo. The sensus fidelium seems to be moving today towards the view that this is erroneous, and that these babies tend to be saved via one of the above mentioned methods.

Views Unacceptable Under Catholic Doctrine

Universalism

Everyone goes to heaven, at least eventually if not right away upon death. This applies to the unborn as well.

All Aborted Babies are Damned

Usually this kind of view stems from the view that no one can be saved who is not baptized. This view may exist in some extremist high-church Protestant or low-church Baptist sects. Since aborted babies (and miscarriages, still-borns, etc) are not baptized, they go to hell, too. Although Catholics believe that baptism is generally necessary for salvation, as mentioned above, there are extraordinary means to salvation as well, so a Catholic must reject this view.

All Aborted Babies are Saved as Innocent

A denial of the effects or doctrine of original sin, this view would hold that babies who die unbaptized must go to heaven because they are sinless. That is, they are not guilty of any personal sins. Therefore, they would go to heaven.

Aborted Souls are Annihilated

There is a strain of thought in some Christian groups that the souls of the damned are annihilated. Rather than suffer the pains of hell, the soul ceases to exist. I'm not sure if any do, but I could see some Christians holding the view that before a certain age, the souls of those who die unbaptized are annihilated and cease to exist. This is trivially true in the case of those who believe in Annihilationism and also hold that unbaptized babies who die are damned, but I am thinking here that perhaps one believes that the wicked are damned and suffer the pains of hell, while God mercifully annihilates the souls of those who die unbaptized, but personally innocent (that is, free from any personal commission of sin, but not from the effects of original sin).

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    "Please do let me know in a comment if you believe I have missed a common view." At the very least, there's the soul sleep/Christian mortalist view held by the other answer to this question, which can be summed up as "no afterlife until the Second Coming".
    – nick012000
    Commented Oct 17, 2022 at 20:19
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There is no supporting evidence of Afterlife in biblical prophecy. However, there is supporting evidence of resurrection at the return of Christ.

The gospel of John chapter 3 deals with the things Christ taught in this particular subject.

Christ specifically stated nobody had ever been to heaven in chapter 3, and in chapters 7,8, and 13, stated nobody would ever go to heaven where his father's throne is. We can either believe Christ or churchianity's teaching.

That yours in perfectly with revelation 21 where it says God will descend to Earth and remain on earth for all eternity with mankind.

Christ returns to earth to restore our dead soul from the grave. Classical Greek translation of aides {Hades} was with pagan theological understanding. Hades also means grave in Greek.

Biblical understanding of death is clear that there is no life after death before resurrection to eternal life/death. When Christ was in the tomb he was not alive in any form until resurrected otherwise the prophecies would have been unfulfilled and made him and God liars.

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There is no reason to assume that miscarriages and abortions have the same fate. Per prophecy, God specifically designs the spirit to fit the physical DNA, but if the physical zygote is not viable He doesn't bother. As for the aborted, God has indicated, again via prophecy, that if a woman repents of the abortion she gets her baby back. Also, on a reported near death experience I encountered on YouTube, a man reported meeting his daughter that his wife had aborted, and he encountered her as the age she would have been had she been allowed to live. Whether an aborted child is in heaven or an in-between place, though, is unclear.

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    It would be helpful if you could cite the "prophecy" that you mentioned.
    – agarza
    Commented Sep 11, 2023 at 19:51

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