It is unnecessary to point out that Christians generally draw heavily to the bible for guidance in all matters, however since there is little consideration of the issue of abortion itself in the bible, this leaves it open for various opinions to be made from indirect quotations. For example, anti abortionist Christians will quote those passages which state the sanctity of life and or the prohibition of murder: ‘Then God said “let us make man in our image, in our likeness”… so God created man in his own image, in the image of god he created him; male and female he created them’. (Genesis 1:26-27)
The strongest biblical evidence used against abortion is the prohibition to commit murder. (Exodus 20:13) Christians against the idea of abortion believe that the embryo/foetus is human and should be given full human rights. Anyone taking away its life is committing an act of murder and are putting themselves on a level with God who alone gives life and takes it away. Christians who wish to argue against abortion on the basis of the bible use a number of verses which teach that God knows and plans the life of a child before they are even born, such as, “you created every part of me; you put me together in my mothers womb… when I was growing there in secret, you knew that I was there. You saw me before I was born.” (Psalm 139:13-15) From this it is argued that God knows each human and has a plan for each of us that is shaped and formed in the mind of God even before we are born. Roman Catholics argue that human life begins at conception and so abortion is wrong because it would be committing a murder.
Pro choice Christians in return point out the absence of teachings on abortion. They consider that the quotations above are situation/person specific.
However there is one passage in the bible that seems to touch specifically on the idea of abortion. In Exodus 21:22-25 we read: “If men who are fighting, hit a woman, and she gives birth prematurely but there is no serious injury, the offender must be fined whatever the woman’s husband demands and the court allows. But if there is serious injury, you are to take life for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, burn for burn, wound for wound, and bruise for bruise.”
The interesting point here is that only if the woman dies from her injuries, murder is deemed to have taken place. The premature birth (or abortion) of the baby is not condemned by the maxim “do not murder” given a few verses back in Exodus.
Roman Catholics do not believe in abortion in any circumstances. This is based largely on the views that human life is sacred from the moment of conception to its natural end. They believe “thou shalt not kill” as the primary reason for the condemnation of abortion. Roman Catholics also believe that abortion is wrong as they see it as a form of contraception – which in itself is against Roman Catholic teachings. The use of abortion for a Roman Catholic woman is non-negotiable, it is never right, even in circumstances such as rape. However if the woman is in any physical or mental danger because of the pregnancy, then abortion becomes acceptable, largely because of the conflict of the sanctity of the mother’s life against that of an unborn foetus.
The Church of England is reluctant to take such a hard view as Roman Catholics in the abortion debate. The church recognizes that there may be certain situations where abortion may seem more appropriate than carrying on with the pregnancy. For example if a woman was raped, then it may be felt right to terminate the pregnancy. Like the Catholic Church, protestant churches accept abortion when the life of the mother is at risk of her being pregnant. Most Protestants have no concrete view on when life actually begins in the foetus.
The Methodists strong belief in the sanctity of life means that abortion is disapproved of strongly, however like the other churches, if the mother’s life is at risk, mentally or physically, then the Methodists share the view that abortion would be allowed, along with medical advice.