Letter: What does Bible say about abortion?

 
Updated 6/27/2022 6:04 PM

As a pastor, church members ask my theological take on the Supreme Court opinion overturning Roe v. Wade. Does the Bible forbid abortion? On this we can all be clear: There is no such prohibition. There is no commandment, "Thou shall not abort." Jesus utters not a word about abortion. Silence permeates the rest of Scripture on this issue.

Of course, motivated readers can cherry-pick passages.

 

Jeremiah 1:5 states that God knew the prophet in the womb. Some Christians use this verse as reason to prohibit abortion. It's a flimsy argument. Presumably God knows all life before its creation, including the lives of plants and animals. If God's omniscience entails moral obligation, then Americans also need to change their eating habits.

Exodus 21:22-25 punishes offenders who harm a pregnant person and cause a miscarriage. These lines too have been repurposed to prohibit abortion. But the conclusion does not follow. Harming a pregnant person and causing an unwanted miscarriage is very different from a person making choices about their own health and body.

Scripture simply does not address the moral implications of abortion. But it does advocate for the wellbeing of one's neighbor. This theme saturates Jesus's teachings and the prophets' utterances.

Overturning Roe imperils the lives of many Americans, and especially the poor and marginalized. Some will almost certainly die from botched operations and forced pregnancies. New laws enacted under the pretext of protecting life will likely cause death and misery.

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The Supreme Court opinion thus violates the spirit of the Gospels, if not the letter.

Lucas Hergert

North Shore Unitarian Church

Deerfield

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