Much of this is copied/pasted from another thread in Free Speech Atheists, but it comes up often enough I wanted to get it out on the main forum.
Best as I can tell, nearly every opponent to the right to choose cites that the bible condemns abortion, when in fact not one word of it does.
This is a EXCELLENT resource as they seem to me the best combination of thorough and relatively unbiased of any entity I've found when researching religious topics. Philosophically it's always dangerous to state a negative ("The bible does NOT say...") when it comes to a source so large and with so many incarnations. But I've put this challenge to many a Xian and have yet to be pointed to a biblical verse that clearly states, "Abortion is wrong."
Where they seem to get the anti-abortion idea is in taking a passage that says X and inductively assuming it must mean Y using unfounded assumptions. E.g.; A favorite of the Xians is from Isaiah stating that God knew your name before you were born (or even conceived, fueling the argument that an egg/sperm is also a potential sperm and therefore birth control or masturbating to the point of ejaculation are also tantamount to abortion/murder):
Given: God knows each person's name before he/she is born/conceived.
Assumption: Only people have names.
Assumption: It is immoral to kill innocent people.
Conclusion: It is therefore immoral to kill a fetus or waste an egg/sperm.
The problem is in the assumptions.
- Given both common sense and the Ancient Hebrew very loose concept of linear time, the most logical translation of the verse is that God sees the future, not that you are literally a person in sperm state.
- Even if we do take the assumption that fetuses are people, we can point to lots of biblical verses where innocent people are killed for the prosperity of another. In this case, the interest of the mother.
- Read the bible. Just because God knows your name doesn't mean he wouldn't be happy to kill you.
- Using the God-knows-your-life-plan logic (found in other verses as well), God must also therefore have known that I was going to abort the pregnancy. Therefore, the abortion was part of my my fetus' life-plan. How dare you question or interfere with God's plan!
Additionally, as with many languages compared to English, both Ancient Hebrew and Ancient Greek really had no separate words for fetus/newborn/infant/toddler/child. One word covered it all and the differentiation comes out of context. But it's easy to take that translation and say, "See? They use the same word to describe a fetus as to describe an 8 year old, so they must consider them of same value."
With far too many passages to cite, here are a few of my favorites (the first two because I especially love using verses the Xians are well familiar with and defend to the death):
Genesis 2:7 - You become a person at first breath.
God makes Adam from the Earth and gives him breath, at which point Adam's soul comes into being. It's a long held belief of the Ancient Hebrews that you start getting your first human rights at the moment of first-breath based largely on this popular element of the Genesis creation story. And Xians love to stand by their creation story as the final truth. (If you really want to mess with their minds, take the logic from the Isaiah God-knew-your-name conclusion that the very ingredients of a person (egg/sperm) are sacred and harming them is equal to harming a child. Therefore, the earth itself is the egg/sperm from which God created Adam. Therefore, we'd damn well better stop polluting and destroying the Earth).
Noah's Flood - Kill everything for convenience sake.
God is omnipotent and therefore could have just killed the bad people when much of the world had gone bad. Instead he chose to kill the bad people along with the innocent men, women, children, infants, fetuses, eggs, sperm, kittens, puppies, butterflies and bunny rabbits. Wonderful children's story.
Exodus 21:22-23 - Clear difference between harming a fetus versus the person.
Both refer to one man fighting with another man and accidentally hurting the woman in the process. If the woman survives but miscarries, you owe the male members of her family money as compensation. Verse 23 says that if the woman herself dies as a result, you are executed as punishment. This does give some (monetary) value to the fetus, but clearly not the same value of personhood.
Numbers 5:12-31 - How to force an abortion upon your wife if you suspect adultery.
This passage, while not giving details, refers to a custom where indeed someone would make a medicinal drink designed to induce miscarriage. I suppose you could throw the Xians a bone and say, "Yes, it is against God's Will for a woman to choose to terminate. The decision to abort is up to her husband."
Hosea 13:15-16 - In war, take extra care to rip open the wombs of pregnant women.
Not just implying that pregnant women are killed (and fetuses aborted) like in Noah's flood, but God makes a point of it.
Ecclesiastes 4:1-3, 6:3-5, Matthew 26:24 - Better off not being born if your life would otherwise be hard or miserable.
Overall the bible does recognize fetuses as 'potential' persons. But consider the multitudes of passages which give very low regard to the lives of children and infants (including the approval of child sacrifice). Fetal worth is then regarded as even lower than that.