Pro-choice people who identify as Christian or Jewish sometimes use the supposed silence of the Bible on abortion as a reason to defend it as consistent with their faith. In this Quick Response video, Emily Albrecht explains why the Bible has plenty to say about abortion, even if it doesn’t specifically use the word.
Especially if you’re both pro-life and a Christian, you’ve probably heard the claim that the Bible never talks about abortion. Pro-choice Christians will use this supposed silence as a reason to justify abortion as consistent with their faith. But does the Bible really have nothing to say about abortion?
The first thing I want to point out is that it doesn’t necessarily matter whether or not the Bible talks about abortion. Almost all of the arguments we use and teach at ERI are secular arguments, by which we mean arguments that don’t specifically assume or reference a particular religious faith. The Equal Rights Argument, for example, is basically just as effective whether the pro-choice person you’re talking to is a Christian, Muslim, Buddhist, or atheist.
We don’t need the Bible to speak on abortion in order to know that abortion is wrong. That truth is accessible to everyone, regardless of their religious beliefs or lack thereof.
The other thing is, even if the Bible doesn’t explicitly address abortion, Christians are still able to reason from truths expressed in the Bible and apply those truths to other situations. Christians didn’t need Jesus to teach about racially integrated busing, because we know discrimination can’t be allowed if “there is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus.”
In fairness to the detractors, abortion isn’t super-specifically addressed in the Bible. The Old Testament law doesn’t talk about abortion per se, but does ban prenatal manslaughter—which is more than we can say for New York state. The Did-ah-kay, a Christian teaching document circulated within the first century AD, DOES explicitly bar abortion as a form of murder; but, especially for Protestants, that can’t prove the case because it’s not actually part of the Bible.
But here’s what the Bible DOES say. The Bible says that all human life is sacred and innocent humans are deserving of protection. The Bible says that personal identity is consistent from conception—when we are formed through God’s superintention in our mothers’ wombs—through death. This is especially shown in the case of Jesus and his cousin John, whose identities and roles as Messiah and prophet were demonstrated when neither were born.
The Bible also says that the shedding of innocent blood is forbidden. As our friend Scott Klusendorf has noted, the Bible doesn’t then need to forbid every specific method of shedding blood. The Bible doesn’t ban throwing people into shark tanks, but we can intuit that because the shedding of innocent blood is forbidden. Therefore, IF the unborn are persons, which we argue for in the Equal Rights Argument, then we cannot shed the unborn’s blood either.
Furthermore, the Bible teaches that Christians are to love all people and to care for their neighbors as themselves, and that neglecting to do that is sin. If you put all of that together, it’s clear that there’s no room to say that the Bible justifies abortion, even if it doesn’t mention it by name.