Conceiving / Ethics / Faith / Parenting / Politics / Thoughts

A Simple Question about Abortion

I watched this video and then I decided to do my own question asking on the subject. My family are quite conservative politically. All of them would say that abortion is murder and it should be made illegal. And since I love making things extremely uncomfortable at family gatherings, I decided to ask them a couple questions about abortion. First, I asked if they thought that abortion was in fact murder, and like I suspected all said yes. Then, I asked what should the punishment be for illegal abortions? All of them paused for a long time before answering. What amazed me is that none of them said the same punishment for murder. Most said that the mental anguish was it’s own punishment and counseling should be involved. Two said they had no idea. One understood the contradiction and said, if it were murder as she had said it was, then it should be the same, but that’s not the punishment she thought it should actually be. But none of them had ever thought of it before. I made sure to ask, and each said they had never thought about the consequences that should be enacted for those who perform them illegally. I also thought it was very interesting that even knowing that it’s a contradiction, none would subject the women to the same penalties as murder.

Isn’t that a little odd? I mean if you think it’s murder, it should be simple right? Are even the religious right conditioned to think it’s less of a big deal than it is? Where do you land on the issue and if you think it should be illegal, what do you think the punishment should be for those who do it illegally?


7 thoughts on “A Simple Question about Abortion

  1. In some situations, yes, abortion should be punished as murder. I’m talking about Kermit Gosnell, pull-out-the-kicking-and-screaming-baby-and-stab-it-in-the-neck kind of abortions. Any voluntary and unnecessary abortions (although I’m not convinced that abortion is ever “necessary”) past the age of viability, when the child is very clearly and distinctly its own entity, and might have even a chance of survival outside the womb, should be punished as murder. Both for the person who had the abortion and the person who performed it.

    I have mixed feelings about how earlier abortions should be punished. When it’s hard to draw the line between an accidental or natural miscarriage and a voluntary abortion — and sometimes it is hard the draw the line, especially with children very early in development — then it’s hard to argue that it should be punished as murder. I have read of recent cases where states tried to charge pregnant mothers with murder for doing drugs that caused the death of their fetuses, and it’s hard to make the case that the mother did that intentionally to kill her baby. For as long as there has been civilization, there have been “home remedies” designed to induce abortion, often without anyone ever knowing the woman was pregnant, if it were very early in a pregnancy — and that is a hard case to make for murder. So I think it is easiest to draw a line at the age of viability.


  2. As always, I love your questions. From a biblical perspective, a baby is a person at conception. One example contributing to this view I hold is found in Psalms 51:5, which reads: Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity and in sin did my mother conceive me. It occurs to me that in order to have a sin nature one must have some component to which that nature can be attributed. In this case that nature, I argue, is the soul. To have a soul and morality is to be human, thus, an abortion at any point is to be considered murder.

    This is not an easy view to hold, as the question of rape always comes to the table. While I cannot be empathetic toward rape victims (since I have never been a victim of such) one might think it easy for me to say that one evil (rape) cannot be covered by another evil (abortion). This assumption would be false. I cannot imagine trauma following the evil that is rape. So while I do feel that a second evil should not be carried out due to a first evil, I am highly sympathetic toward rape victims… especially considering I have two young daughters.

    Back to your question. Yes, I would agree with you that illegal abortion should be handled as a murder case. The logic follows readily despite any emotional component that may be involved.


    • And what do you make of the idea that a baby is a person when they breath the first breath? Ie. “God breathed into him the breath of life and man became a living soul.” There are many sides to the debate even biblically. Though I definitely find myself on the other side. I think it’s more important to legislate consistently, for the government anyway, but I find myself in favor of much higher restrictions though not a ban.


      • Your point is well taken. The passage you are referring to describes how God created the first human. That breath of life flows through all of us from the point it was breathed into Adam, forward. One might look at this act as the creation of the first soul. After the creation of Adam and Eve humans were no longer created, but instead were begotten (meaning procreate). Consequently, the soul is an attribute of a human at conception. The first breath of a child (as beautiful and miraculous as it is) is the first moment the physical body of the person is independent of the physical body of the mother. This contrasts with the soul, which is always independent of the mother.

        As I think about the issue it occurs to me that there is a consensus that it is morally good to act with a sense of urgency if a child even could be in danger. If a house was on fire, for example, and someone mentioned that a child might be in the house firefighters would be compelled to act as if a child was in the house – despite any doubt. Why would we not have the same sense of urgency about abortion? If a child might be a person at conception why would we not act as if it is true – despite any doubt? Seems odd to me.


        • Indeed, it’s interesting. I find the same kind of hesitation in the end of life when there is a question as to whether or not the person is still there. Like Terri Schiavo and others in that condition. There is something more than movement and even more than breath that makes the person, an individual. Nailing that something else down makes life a more complicated issue. What is our humanity? When do we gain and lose it? (Death penalty for example)

          I do find the argument that God created the first male and female as a point for anti-homosexual argument quite tiresome, perhaps I should find the use of the creation of the soul equally as tiresome. It does seem to be an emerging point with those who find themselves on the Christian Left.


  3. Interesting question. It brought to mind a passage where a particular verse is often taken out of context.. ‘eye for an eye…’

    Learning and reading Torah, God’s instructions, has been an enlightening experience.

    Exodus 21:22-25 *may* be instructive in understanding the ‘value’ of the child when determining a penalty. According to The Stone Edition of The Chumash (Torah and some commentary), without typing the page or so of commentary, the baby has value, but not to the same extent as the mother. The penalty is assessed by the court as a financial penalty.

    There is disagreement among the sages about ‘life for life’ being literal… And that only if the mother dies.. not the child.

    Something to think about…

    @ Clare. ‘Shades of grey’ is how you create a slippery slope to total immorality. Doesn’t matter the issue. The heart of humankind will eventually pursue its baser instincts. All it needs is a little justification!



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