As a new escort, Tim and Scott (the crucifix guy) told me abortion was murder. “Where,” I asked, “does it say that?”
Tim said, “The Ten Commandments-thou shalt not kill!” It’s in Exodus Chapter 20.
But does the killing of a fetus constitute murder, as in a breathing person? The answer is in the next chapter, Exodus 21: 22-25, it is the only passage in the Bible that deals specifically with the act of causing a woman to abort a pregnancy. And the penalty for causing the abortion is not what the protesters want us to believe:
“And if men struggle and strike a woman with child so that she has a miscarriage, yet there is no further injury, he shall be fined as the woman’s husband may demand of him, and he shall pay as the judges decide. But if there is any further injury, then you shall appoint as a penalty life for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot, burn for burn, wound for wound, bruise for bruise.”
Clearly it says that the loss of the fetus is punished by a fine. Causing the death of the woman was a capital crime-murder.
Brian Elroy McKinley says about Exodus 21: 22-25:
“This is a very illuminating passage. In it we find a woman losing her child by being stuck by men who are fighting. Rather than it being a capital offense, however, it is relegated to a civil matter, with the father-to-be taking the participants to court for a settlement. But, as we read on, if the woman is killed, a “life for a life,” then the men who killed her shall be killed. Some have claimed that the life for a life part is talking about the baby. But from reading the context we can see this is not true. It also states a tooth for a tooth and a burn for a burn. Babies don’t have teeth when they are born, and it is highly unlikely a baby will be burned during birth. It is pretty clear that this part refers to the mother. Thus we can see that if the baby is lost, it does not require a death sentence — it is not considered murder. But if the woman is lost, it is considered murder and is punished by death.”
Some fundamentalists have argued that it includes causing the death of the fetus and the fine was for causing premature birth. Baloney. Premature babies almost never survived in a world without modern medicine. Premature birth was a virtual death sentence.
Again, quoting Brian Elroy McKinley:
“It’s important to note that some anti-abortion lobbyists want to convince us the baby in this passage survived the miscarriage. They point to the more “politically-correct” translation they find in the New International Version of the Bible. There it translates the term “miscarriage” into “gives birth prematurely” (the actual words in Hebrew translate “she lose her offspring”). While this may give them the warm and fuzzy notion that this verse might actually support their cause if maybe the child survived, it is wishful thinking at best. In our modern era of miracle medicine only 60% of all premature births survive. Three thousand years ago, when this passage was written, they did not have modern technology to keep a preemie alive. In fact, at that time, more than half of all live births died before their first birthday. In a world like that, a premature birth was a death sentence.”
There really isn’t any verse it the bible which specially mentions abortion. All the pro lifers have are passages taken out of context, like Deuteronomy 30:19 which says:
“I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing,: therefore choose life, that both thou and thy seed may live.“
But the chapter is about the Israelites being exhorted to choose the God of the bible and his laws for the well being of themselves and their descendants. It is not about abortion at all.
The familiar billboard “Before you were formed in the womb I knew you” is about the prophet Jeremiah-the rest of the verse is “and before thou camest forth out of the womb I sanctified thee, and I ordained thee a prophet unto the nations.” They further muddy the water with an image of Jesus, as if he is being quoted several centuries before he was born.
Other bible passages are similarly taken out of context by the pro life movement.
Whether abortion is right or wrong, justified in some circumstances or none is not treated anywhere in the bible. People make the inferences they want to make and pretend to find what they are looking for in the bible with a few twists and turns.
Brian Elroy McKinley, who I have already quoted, is a former fundamentalist. He has an excellent website on this subject at elroy.net/ehr/abortion.htm/His essay “How to Fight the Religious Right” is well worth reading.
Before there was the abortion controversy, there was the prohibition movement. They subjected the bible to the same kind of selective interpretations and distortions. There are people today who claim Jesus did not drink wine but grape juice. Kept from fermenting in a biblical refrigerator? Grape juice at room temperature IS wine in just a few days. The bible does sometimes condemn drunkenness, but has many passages which accept drinking as normal. For many years to this day preachers told their congregations that drinking was sinful and would send them to hell. Most of Kentucky is dry, that is Prohibition still exists 77 years after it was repealed nationally. I asked the son of an alcoholic in a dry county if he knew of any instance where prohibition saved a drunk from himself. He couldn’t think of any.
Outlawing abortion will not end it. Turning the uterus police loose on the women of America is far more likely to end the ambitions of the fundamentalists to rule this country than to end the practice of abortion. Fundamentalist religious fervor in America is not constant or inevitable in our history and attacking women’s rights may be their undoing.