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What the Bible says about abortion


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The Bible appears to be silent on the topic of abortion. 1 Author Roy Bowen Ward quotes two authors in his essay on the personhood of the fetus: 2

  • John T. Noonan (1970) said: "The Old testament has nothing to say on abortion." 3

  • John Connery (1977) said: "If anyone expects to find an explicit condemnation of abortion in the New Testament, he will be disappointed. The silence of the New Testament regarding abortion surpasses even that of the Old Testament." 4

Roy Ward finds this silence difficult to understand, because abortion was widely practiced during New Testament era in the Middle East. The Assyrians had a law concerning self-induced abortions as far back as the 12th century BCE.

On the other hand, there are Biblical passages which might be interpreted as referring to the worth of a fetus. One source states that pro-life groups have cited over 100 Bible passages in support of their position. 5The passages listed in this section appear to be the most commonly used in abortion debates.

We researched the beliefs of both religious conservatives and liberals in the preparation of this and similar essays. We use either the King James Version (KJV) or the New International Version (NIV) of the Bible, unless indicated.

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  1. What Does the Bible Say about Abortion?," at:
  2. Roy Bowen Ward, "Is the Fetus a person?" at: This is a PDF file.
  3. John T. Noonan, "An Almost Absolute Value in History," a part of John T. Noonan, ed., "The Morality of Abortion: Legal and Historical Perspectives," Harvard University Press, Cambridge MA, (1970), Page. 6
  4. John Connery, S.J. "Abortion: The Development of the Roman Catholic Perspective," Loyola University Press, Chicago IL, (1977), Page. 34.
  5. Paul D. Simmons, "Personhood, the Bible, and the Abortion Debate," at: This is another PDF file.

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Copyright 1997 to 2016 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Last update: 2016-SEP-04

Author: B.A. Robinson

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