What Does the Bible Say About Abortion?


Today’s entry is an article written by Stephen Wagner and is featured in the HCSB Apologetics Study Bible for Students. With the release of October Baby this weekend, I thought it would be helpful to provide my readers with a solid biblical case for life should they encounter the need or opportunity to share what the Bible says about abortion. I pray this is helpful.

"The Bible doesn’t say anything about abortion, so women have the right to choose.” That’s a favorite argument from politicians who want to keep abortion legal, but is it true that the Bible is silent on abortion? No, it isn’t.

The next time someone tells you otherwise, ask this question to make things clearer: “Do you mean that the Bible doesn’t mention the word ‘abortion,’ or do you instead mean that the Bible doesn’t give us a moral command that applies to the abortion issue?” This is an important distinction to highlight.

After all, it’s true that the Bible doesn’t say, “Don’t have an abortion.” Then again, it also doesn’t say, “Don’t throw your children in dumpsters.” Yet, in Exodus 20:13; Deuteronomy 5:17; and Matthew 19:18-19, the Bible offers a command that applies to both situations: Do not murder (where “murder” means not to kill innocent humans). 

Before we can say with confidence what the Bible says about abortion, then, we must answer a prior question: Is an unborn child human? To paraphrase Greg Koukl, a Christian apologist and radio talk show host, if the unborn is not a human being, then the Bible doesn’t speak to the abortion issue and you don’t need to make an argument to justify it. But if the unborn is a human (and the Bible seems to make this clear in Ps 139), the Bible speaks clearly about abortion and no argument can justify abortion.

Put another way, if the unborn is human, then “Do not murder” is a command that applies equally to murdering an adult or dismembering an unborn human through abortion. You can make a case that the unborn is a human by appealing to the Bible, but since many people don’t believe the Bible is true, I suggest being ready to make your case by using three other types of evidence.

First, use pictures of unborn babies developing in the womb and pictures of the abortion procedure to clarify the realities involved in the abortion debate. Since most people are visual learners, this tactic is critical.

Second, use scientific evidence to show that the unborn are living, whole members of the human species. If the unborn child is growing, how could she not be alive? And if she has human parents, how could she not be human? This living human isn’t a disordered mass of tissue or a functional part of the mother’s body. She’s a whole organism integrating her own functional parts. Biologically, she’s a human.

Third, use philosophical reasoning to show that the biblical command “Do not murder” applies to all human beings. Unborn human beings differ from the rest of us in only four ways: size, level of development, environment, or degree of dependency. Note how newborns, disabled people, and many other already born human beings also differ from able-bodied adults in each of these ways, but we still recognize that they share the same human nature as the rest of us.

These differences are irrelevant to value or qualifications as human, and so we should respect the unborn human being just like we would any other human being.

Posted on March 20, 2012

With nearly 40 years of ministry experience, Thom Rainer has spent a lifetime committed to the growth and health of local churches across North America.
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  • Biblical fact checking is as important as political fact checking. You would be surprised to know that contentious views about abortion are not conveyed in scripture. What the Bible says about abortion has never been included in the debate. The worsening arguments over abortion only set aside the message of God’s love. The following article is based on scriptural facts about abortion not religious faction and fiction.
    How scripture defuses the abortion debate – bit.ly/CLLonAbortion

  • Christine Barney says on

    It grieves me so. All of this arguing about abortion, whether it is OK or not OK. Whether women have a right to murder their own flesh and blood. I know that we all see things differently but how anyone can justify the brutal dismembering of an innocent human being is beyond me, and so are the arguments. I was marching and protesting against the legalization of abortion back in the early 70s. I will never forget one woman’s speech. “Today, they call it a product of conception, a mass of cells and tissue. But if abortion is made legal, the day will come when they say, yes, we know it is a human baby and we don’t care!” I think of her words often especially when I hear the endless debates. Everybody knows it is wrong to kill the unborn but many don’t care and that is what grieves me. They don’t care. That shows the level of depravity covered up by fancy words, and endless arguments. It is only by God’s Grace that He doesn’t destroy us all for the shedding of innocent blood. Forgive us Lord.

  • Agbawodikeizu, Emma. Chibueze says on

    Why are we busy arguing about abortion, if it is in Bible, if it is right? My question is the wromg thing boldly written in the Bible like fornication and adultry which results into pregnancy, have people of the world accepted the injuction. The law against illegal sexual expressions which its Gods end view point is pregnancy the new generation churchs makes it more difficult by wrong interpretation of GRACE cancelling LAW. Agains this issue of accepting abortion as right is not far fetched. First, Bible said the gods of this world has blind the eyes of men,until gospel light illuminate one he/she remains blind no matter the level of education/civilization. So preachers has a loty job, may God bring the fire of revival again

  • Ok… Here goes “Pastor Broken Record” again…
    I think the reason I am mostly irrelevant to most, is because my thought processes are too “long term” for most folks.
    In today’s Anonymous, disposable, high-speed broadband access, drive-thru, instant gratification society, things like children are much too long term a commitment for too many folks.
    My suggestion, (besides yesterday’s comment) would be to promote more of an “retro” return to the days of our youth (us pre 1975 born folks).
    So many children have become rather jaded and basically “desensitized” by the introduction of the television, computers, and video games being their pseudo parent.
    What happened to the days when kids bugged their parents relentlessly to “go outside and play”? How do we turn all of America around? How do we get everyone’s children away from the high speed access of life, slow them down, and get them to feel real feelings like pain and pleasure?
    Pain and pleasure have become so “virtual” now, that it makes the child see “reactions” to their actions, as something that carries no real weight, because it doesn’t involve a real world feeling.
    My best guess is the expansion of VBS in the community, with a focus on teaching children to make more long term plans in life. The whole social media, networking, get rich quick, self help, short term goals model of success is being passed on to our children, and that puts the blame right back in our lap.
    Expanding VBS to a year around institution seems like a viable inroad to not only spreading the Gospel at the most grassroots of venues, but it also gives us a chance to get kids away, and keep them away from the disposable lifestyle.
    We all know that many secular parents use VBS as a babysitting service to do their job for them, so why not exploit that? If folks want to let the folks who are interested in changing the world for the better, raise their children for them, then why not? Yes, it promotes the laziness of shirking “personal responsibility”, but in return, we can teach the upcoming generation we are “babysitting”, that personal responsibility is the desired characteristic to be cultivated in life. We are simply cleaning out the old, and replacing it with the new.
    Again, it isn’t going to show us the instant results we are trained to seek, but we as well need to get off that same destructive model, and start putting the focus back on the long term.
    Children, not adults are the answer to all of the adult problems of life…
    Maybe the time has come for the Church to take second look at Matthew 19:14 “Then Jesus said, “Leave the children alone, and don’t try to keep them from coming to Me, because the kingdom of heaven is made up of people like this.”(HCSB) and re-exegete it, we are obviously missing something in the translation…

  • Bruce H. says on

    Abortion has more of a negative affect on the Christian for other reasons than just murdering a baby. Some would say that life begins a conception. I’m sure we say that because of the humanist concept of reproduction. It clearly states in Scripture in many places about God’s foreknowledge of us, even knowing us from the foundation of the world. Here, God is telling Jeremiah that he was known by God before conception.
    “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you; Before you were born I sanctified you; I ordained you a prophet to the nations.” Jeremiah 1:5
    The real tragedy of abortion is that it tries to violate the very purpose and design of God.