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Abortion in the Bible: a Misdemeanor at Best

A tip of the pen to Damen, who writes in the Diaries today:

What makes you think your god even cares about abortion? Nowhere in the bible is abortion ever mentioned; in fact your bible even says that if a man accidently kills a woman who is pregnant and the woman dies he shall be put to death. However, if only the unborn child should die then no punishment should come to the man. You’ll find that in Exodus 21:22-25.

Sounds to me like your god doesn’t care about abortion one way or the other.

Exodus 21:22-23 [New Int’l Version] reads:

If men who are fighting hit a pregnant woman and she gives birth prematurely [or she has a miscarriage] 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.

The note in brackets is from the editors of the New Int’l Version of the Bible as an assistance to readers from translation, not my addition. This is a bit more equivocal than I think Damen implies: the death of a fetus merits a fine, kind of like an olde-time misdemeanor, and is certainly not “a serious injury.” But the death of a fetus is not comparable here to the death of an adult human, for which the punishment is death. God does NOT give fetuses and adults the same status.

Also of interest is Leviticus 27:1-8, in whch God says to Moses:

The LORD said to Moses, “Speak to the Israelites and say to them: ‘If anyone makes a special vow to dedicate persons to the LORD by giving equivalent values, set the value of a male between the ages of twenty and sixty at fifty shekels of silver, according to the sanctuary shekel; and if it is a female, set her value at thirty shekels. If it is a person between the ages of five and twenty, set the value of a male at twenty shekels and of a female at ten shekels. If it is a person between one month and five years, set the value of a male at five shekels of silver and that of a female at three shekels of silver. If it is a person sixty years old or more, set the value of a male at fifteen shekels and of a female at ten shekels. If anyone making the vow is too poor to pay the specified amount, he is to present the person to the priest, who will set the value for him according to what the man making the vow can afford.

Well gosh and crackers, it looks like the LORD doesn’t assign any value to a fetus as a person. And for another example of God’s moral code, there’s always Hosea 13:16

The people of Samaria must bear their guilt, because they have rebelled against their God. They will fall by the sword; their little ones will be dashed to the ground, their pregnant women ripped open.

Let’s put aside that God has got some control issues here he may want to consider. Someone give the Guy a beer or something and tell Him to cool his heels. But hey, God’s the Abortionist in Chief!

2 thoughts on “Abortion in the Bible: a Misdemeanor at Best”

  1. Alan says:

    Abortion as a judgment in Hosea 9:14

    NIV is used by the religious right. World Council of Churches denominations use New Revised Standard translation. Wonder why that is.

  2. Jim says:

    Well, I’m neither a member of the religious right or the World Council of Churches, so why don’t you tell me.

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