an excerpt from my upcoming site update:
The book by which conservative Christian pro-lifers have espoused faith says that causing a miscarriage is not murder. The whole Pro-Life argument is predicated upon ' thou shalt not kill'
Kill what? Nothing? Not even a fly?
What does that commandment mean? Of course it means not to kill a human being in cold blood. A better translation from Hebrew would be 'Thou shalt not murder.' The Mosaic Law is merely summarized in the Ten Commandments. As it is expanded throughout the course of the Old Testament it is clear this passage is talking about first degree murder of a human being.
The Fundamentalist Christian Pro-Life theology assumes though, this passage applies to a pre-born fetus. Which is in their eyes the same as a full term human being.
But, if this is the case then why did this God not write it in His book? In Exodus it says:
"And if men struggle and strike a woman with child so that she has a miscarriage, yet there is no further injury, he shall be fined as the woman's husband may demand of him, and he shall pay as the judges decide. But if there is any further injury, then you shall appoint as a penalty life for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot, burn for burn, wound for wound, bruise for bruise." Exodus 21:22-25
So if a man accidentally kills a pregnant woman, that man should be condemned for committing murder. However, if he only kills the fetus - that is, if she miscarries - he is not condemned for murder. Clearly, then, God does not consider the pre-born fetus as being the same as a human being, in which case the Commandment of "Thou Shalt Not Kill (a human)" does not apply.
(It should be noted here that the most adamant pro-life proponents will claim 'miscarriage' means go into labor early and deliver a baby pre-maturely. However -- this seems to be a rather convenient explanation considering 'miscarry' has never in history meant delivering early.)
Job says he would have been better off to be terminated as a fetus:
"Why then hast Thou brought me out of the womb? Would that I had died and no eye had seen me! I should have been as though I had not been, carried from womb to tomb." Job 10:18-19
In Ecclesiastes, Solomon declares much of life is futile. He writes repeatedly if life is good we should be thankful. But when it's not, he makes some interesting statements:
"If a man fathers a hundred children and lives many years, however many they be, but his soul is not satisfied with good things, and he does not even have a proper burial, then I say, `Better the miscarriage than he, for it comes in futility and goes into obscurity; and its name is covered in obscurity. It never sees the sun and it never knows anything; it is better off than he.'" Ecclesiastes 6:3-5
This is a clear quality of life argument. He, like Job, makes the point that it would in some cases be better to abort than to bring a child into a miserable life. He even goes further here:
"Then I looked again at all the acts of oppression which were being done under the sun. And behold I saw the tears of the oppressed and that they had no one to comfort them; and on the side of their oppressors was power, but they had no one to comfort them. So I congratulated the dead who are already dead more than the living who are still living. But better off than both of them is the one who has never existed, who has never seen the evil activity that is done under the sun." Ecclesiastes 4:1-3
Here, the man to whom God gave the world's greatest wisdom (according to this sacred book) puts forth the idea that when life is miserable it is better to be ended or prevented.
This is a strong argument that Biblically speaking quality of a life is of paramount importance. One could even extrapolate that the Bible supports ending a pregnancy in the face of a life without quality.
But the Bible neither condemns or supports abortion at all. Fundamentalist Christian leaders use verses out of context -- in the same way done here to support abortion -- to support their views against abortion. They will, however, maintain they have the exclusive right to speak for God.
The early Christian Church at one time actually allowed the practice of abortion up to 90 days after conception. The Church followed Aristotlian principle that the 'ensoulment' did not take place until then. The belief was that a human male was ensouled after 40 days of gestation and the female after 90 days.
Seventh century CE, a series of penitentials were written by Theodore, organizer of the English church. These listed several sins, with the penance an offender must observe in punishment for the sin. Ironically "sins" which prevented conception had more severe penalties than abortion.
- coitus interruptus (withdrawal of the penis prior to ejaculation)
- oral sex or anal sex
Oral intercourse required from 7 years to a lifetime of penance; abortion required only 120 days.
In a case of a monk who had arranged for his lover to have an abortion Pope Innocent III decided the monk was not guilty of homicide if the fetus was not "animated."
In the 13th century he said the soul enters the body of the fetus at the time of "quickening" - which, according to him, was when the woman first feels movement of the fetus. After this so-called ensoulement, abortion was considered murder; before this occurred though it was a lesser offence, because it terminated only potential human life, not human life.
It is a fact that every person begins as a single cell. Oxygen and food alone are needed for it to grow into a full term human. (oh and a nice woman to be the host.) That person never existed before and will never exist again. The 46 chromosomes contained in that single cell will determine the entire physiology of the person it has the potential to become.
There is no scientific doubt that when the sperm and ovum meet to form a single cell a unique life form has been added to the bio-diversity of the planet. Previously this was the only way an individual could be developed. Cloning, however, has changed that picture.
But, the ovum was alive before. The mother, from birth, carried inside her all the eggs she would ever have the potential for carrying to term. And yet everyone agrees that the ovum is not a human life.
The father produces thousands of sperm per minute. The sperm are alive. The live until they cannot meet with an ovum. Everyone agrees that the sperm is not a human life.
Some people feel the transition to human life happens when the fetus loses its gill slits and tail and begins to "look like" a baby, or when the fetus becomes viable, (i.e. able to live outside the womb), or when its brain has developed to a particular degree. Hints of consciousness have been found in 7-month-old fetuses and measured brain-wave patterns similar to dreaming at 8 months gestation.
The medical profession appears to follow the viability criteria. Medical societies enforce regulations prohibiting abortions after (typically) 20 or 21 weeks of pregnancy. The US Supreme Court also seems to have used viability as a significant event; it allows states to prohibit abortions after viability for a wide range of reasons.
Some believe that the fetus becomes a human being only after it has been delivered and is breathing on its own. They may be reluctant to consider a fetus that is about to be delivered as human, because of the resulting "slippery slope" problem that would criminalize abortions at gradually earlier stages of pregnancy.
So... there is no compromise or easy answer.
A cell is not a full term human. If a woman decides to eliminate a pregnancy in the early stages..... It may be a sad event but it is not murder. Sad.. because it signifies a moment of what might have been had the world been a different place.
Are abortions desirable? No. Should they be encouraged? Certainly not as a means of simple birth control.
I actually researched this subject several years back and on re-reading some of the research sites realized that what i've written borders on plagiarism from the following sites(so I have a good memory!):
"Today, I believe that I am acting in accordance with the will of the Almighty Creator: by defending myself against the Jew, I am fighting for the work of the Lord.
-- Adolf Hitler (Reichstag speech, 1936)
[This message has been edited by Local Rebel (edited 09-04-2001).]