What does the Bible say about abortion?

First off, I know almost nothing about the Bible.

I’m sure when the Bible was written, or compounded, or translated, that abortion wasn’t even a term: not on their radar, so to speak.

So where does this all come from? Is there a passage, or sermon or something that states life begins at conception and it’s God’s will that these feeble cells be brought to life?

How, and why did this become a Christian belief?

Two parts it come to mind:

John the Baptist jumped for joy from inside the womb of his mother when Mary, pregnant with Jesus, came close, so it goes to show that there is a life which recognized a person and understands.

However in the Old Testament, if one strikes a women to cause her to miscarry, the proper punishment is a fine, while murder of a person after birth is punishable by death.

Just to add my own, which came from study, meditation on the Word and prayer, is that life doesn’t ‘begin’ so to speak, but it is a continuum from source (God). It is only the physical body that ‘begins’.

In addition to this, other verses cited by religious anti-abortionists include

No, I don’t get it either. These verses seem to me to be about God’s foreknowledge or purpose and God’s involvement in forming people in the womb, but there’s nothing there about when a person becomes a person.

Exodus 21:22-25 is the most hotly debated Biblical passage in the abortion argument. Pro-choice interpret it to mean that if a woman miscarries, her husband (!) should get a monetary compensation, but the man who caused the miscarriage should not be punished. The anti-abortion folks thinks it refers to a woman giving premature birth to a live baby.

The Jeremiah quote Thudlow mentioned above really shouldn’t be used for an anti-abortion stance. The context is that Jeremiah (a relatively young man) is talking with God, who wants him to deliver His message. Jeremiah replies that he’s too young, no one will listen, and there’s nothing special about him. God’s answer in 1:5 indicates, if anything, that Jeremiah was indeed a special case, and that God doesn’t know each-and-everyone in the womb.

Not a Christian belief, as there is considerable variance in the Protestant churches on the abortion issue. It is a belief for the Catholic church and some Protestant churches.

Abortion per se isn’t mentioned in the Bible, because effective abortifacients that didn’t risk killing the mother weren’t really a thing.

I don’t know of any sermons, specifically, but early Christian writings condemned abortion.

Cite. Again, abortion methods weren’t very effective and they were highly unsafe, but to the extent that they happened or were attempted, they were considered (mostly) as wrong.


AIUI, Scripture says nothing directly about abortion as in the voluntary procedure (that would be a bit akin to asking what the Bible says about radio or the Internet), but there are passages as mentioned that hint that the fetus is regarded as life. However, the fact that causing a miscarriage wasn’t to be punished the same as homicide suggests that a fetus was not regarded as being of equal value as a born human.

Abortion is one of those issues where science and religion switched with religionists generally taking a more scientific definition of life and non-religionists taking a more transcendental one.

It wasn’t until the 60s that Catholic teaching moved abortion from a sexual sin (essentially a crime against the body of the woman) to a capital sin (a crime against the body of the child.) What happened was that ultrasounds emerged onto the scene in the late 1950s. Prior teaching generally considered fetuses ‘unformed’ prior to quickening (the moment when a baby is first felt to kick.) The advent of ultrasound changed religious teaching on the matter and began to see the fetus as a child much earlier and as the science of conception became better understood, it pushed that time period back to conception. Non-religionists on the other hand were busy siding with second wave feminism and its emphasis on the control of sexual reproduction and how complete control of such could free women from what were seen as biological dictates that kept them at a state of disadvantage with men. Abortion was a necessary tool in that arsenal. As such, the science of independent life was discarded in favor of the more transcendent and thus arguable concept of ‘personhood.’ Rather than asking when does a fetus become a human life, the question was rephrased to a much more religious conception of when does it become embued with being a person (which is essentially an old argument for when a soul is formed, although the language of personhood rarely includes a reference to a soul, but nonetheless, that’s essentially what the argument is. When does this bundle of cells become a transcendent being with rights as opposed to merely a physical being.)

First of all, re-read your cite. Plenty of stuff there indicating that some early Church writers were okay to some extent.

Secondly, there was a well known abortifacient that made Cyrene prosperous in ancient times. Silphium apparently went extinct long ago and its identity and actual properties are not clear.

And yet for some reason these religious “laws” should extend to everyone else because…reasons?

I guess, “freedom of religion”, means we have to pass laws that do what the Bible says?

Speaking of the Bible, it wasn’t big on women’s rights.

Speaking as a Lutheran Assistant (to the) Minister, I’ve gotta poke my cynical nose in here and answer the OP with “Same thing the Bible says about homosexuality. Nuthin’.”

You may now return to a more nuanced discussion.

Maybe you could ask someone who said they should.

I don’t think your guess is accurate.


It really is as simple as this:

  • Most religions believe that murder is wrong

  • Many religions, including most Protestant sects, teach that life begins at conception (or very shortly thereafter). Ergo, abortion = murder = wrong

  • Most non-religious people believe murder is wrong

  • Many non-religious (and some religious) people believe that live begins a some point after conception but before live birth and abortion should be allowed in the interim. Ergo, abortion (to some point) /= murder /= wrong

The real debate is solely centered around when life begins. Since that is a question that science cannot precisely answer, belief takes over. Once a person forms their belief about when life begins, the question of abortion is largely answered for them.


It’s a hot button issue in the US because people will not debate the central point - when does life begin - because that is hard. Much easier to throw around smoke-and-mirror phrases like “a woman’s right to choose” and “It’s a life, not a choice”. It allows politicians to generate sound bites and stir up controversy to stay in the limelight. Much easier to inflame passions on both sides around “choice” than to lead a debate on when life begins. Politicians know that and won’t give up that power.

There is another debate to that. Where does the right of the state stop? In other words, even if the fetus is fully human life, does the state have the authority to govern ‘the realm of the womb’ and establish and bestow human rights and protections there. Or is that not under their ‘God given’ authority, and the woman is supreme there?

That is my take on my above mentioned 2 biblical stances:

1- Baby is alive and human inside the womb (John the Baptist leaping inside the womb in recognition of Jesus)

2- However the Bible does not penalize a person for the death of a fetus, just a monetary fine to cause the woman to miscarry.

In other words I see it Biblically is yes it’s a human life, no it’s is not subject to the rules and laws and protections of this world, that is a privilege given to women by God.

Scripturally we see and can say God is pro life, but yet we all die, including fetuses. God is also pro choice, He gives us free will, but only judges the intent of the heart, not the action itself. The reasons for abortion are many, and a woman can chose to have a abortion for good or bad reasons. Even reasons based on love.

IME it is often the other way around, as it is in many other decisions of the sort. First decide on a position, then figure out why.

For both pro-life and pro-choice.


The Fetus in Jewish Law

Jewish Women’s Archive

God is the world’s greatest abortionist