The Biblical Basis for
Being Pro-Choice

The Bible never mentions abortion, but it does offer support for choice.

The 30th anniversary of Roe v. Wade, the U.S. Supreme Court decision legalizing abortion, created a huge amount of misinformation about the nature of being pro-choice. Starting with President Bush's proclamation of National Sanctity of Human Life Day, the purpose seems to be to portray those who are pro-choice as godless and heartless. But being pro-choice is firmly grounded in the Bible.

Who is pro-choice and religious? Denominations with official and long-standing pro-choice positions include the Presbyterian Church (USA), the Episcopal Church, the United Methodist Church, the United Church of Christ, the Unitarian Universalist Association of Congregations, and Reform and Conservative Judaism. These organizations have a diversity of views about abortion and recognize it as a morally complex decision that must be made by the person most affected--the woman.

Among religious groups, the pro-choice position is nuanced, recognizing that most people believe abortion--as well as bearing children-are matters for individual conscience, not government or religious mandate. Pro-choice denominations don't seek to impose their views on others or to make them law. They recognize that in our pluralistic society, politicians must not be allowed to impose laws about childbearing based on any particular belief about when life begins. The notion that life begins at the moment of conception is a belief held by some, but not all, religious groups.

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In fact, the Bible never mentions abortion and does not deal with the question of when life begins. Genesis 2:7 (God "breathed into his nostrils the breath of life and man became a living being") refers to the specific, unique event of the creation of Adam out of the earth. It says nothing about the process of conception, pregnancy, and birth.

The Book of Exodus clearly indicates that the fetus does not have the same legal status as a person (Chapter 21:22-23). That verse indicates that if a man pushes a pregnant woman and she then miscarries, he is required only to pay a fine. If the fetus were considered a full person, he would be punished more severely as though he had taken a life. [Editor's note: Read more detailed pro-choice and pro-life analyses of Exodus 21.]

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Marjorie Brahms Signer
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