Many of us know the biblical case against abortion. But are there other verses that bring a different perspective on abortion?
On the pro-life side, we note that Rebekah was told that two nations were in her womb, pointing to the personhood and potential of her unborn children (Genesis 25:21-23; see also Jeremiah 1:4-5).
Similarly, John the Baptizer leapt in his mother’s womb when Miriam (Mary) arrived, with the baby Jesus in her womb (Luke 1:39-43; see also 1:15, where John would be filled with the Spirit even from his mother’s womb).
And verses like Psalm 139:13-16 speak of how the Lord carefully knit us together while we were still in the womb.
But are there other verses that might point in another direction?
There are two main passages that often come up for discussion in this context, Exodus 21:22-25 and Numbers 5:11-31. But upon close examination, neither of them supports a pro-abortion position in the least.
Let’s look first at the passage in Exodus. In the ESV it reads (with the key Hebrew phrase in italics), “When men strive together and hit a pregnant woman, so that her children come out, but there is no harm, the one who hit her shall surely be fined, as the woman’s husband shall impose on him, and he shall pay as the judges determine. But if there is harm, then you shall pay life for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot, burn for burn, wound for wound, stripe for stripe.”
In contrast, the NRSV translates, “When people who are fighting injure a pregnant woman so that there is a miscarriage, and yet no further harm follows, the one responsible shall be fined what the woman’s husband demands, paying as much as the judges determine. If any harm follows, then you shall give life for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot, burn for burn, wound for wound, stripe for stripe.”
The question, then, is simple: Does the Torah consider the unborn baby to be a human life, in which case any harm done to the baby will be repaid in kind (as in eye for eye, etc.)? Or does the Torah consider the unborn baby to be more like a possession (say, like a cow or a lamb), in which case a miscarriage is not equivalent to murder?
There is serious debate among Hebrew scholars concerning this, and while I personally lean strongly towards the translation found in the ESV (compare the NET’s “and her child is born prematurely”), we can’t be absolutely dogmatic.
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SOURCE: Christian Post, Michael Brown