Answering the Theological Case for Abortion Right

Because of its legal, moral, and religious position, abortion has evolved as one of the most controversial and intensely emotional topics in the modern world. The pro-choice and pro-life movements, which support the right of women to terminate a pregnancy and the embryos' or rather the fetus' right to life, respectively, are at the forefront of the debate (Alcorn). For decades, the two movements have been actively involved in efforts, particularly in the mainstream media, to sway not only public opinion but also legal backing. In most global nations, the debate has turned into a legal and political issue with these nations such as the US, actively supporting the anti-abortion campaigners that seek to either enact, expand or maintain the already existing anti-abortion laws.

Description of the Topic

Abortion is termed as the acts of terminating a pregnancy which usually occurs during the first 28weeks after conception. In medical contexts abortion is termed as induced abortion, this type of abortion is commonly distinguished from what is termed as a spontaneous abortion referred to as a stillbirth or miscarriage. Some of the concerns that have over the years been raised concerning abortion include, the mother’s and the child’s rights, the morality and ethics behind abortion, and whether or not a fetus or embryo can be considered as a human being.

The issue on the morality of abortion is a very critical issue of concern as it directly affects both the lives of the mother and that of the child. Concerning the child, one of the rights affected by the moral concern is the inherent right to life. On the other hand, for the mother, some of the rights directly affected by the issue include the right to life; when the child puts the mother’s life in danger, and the right to autonomy or as commonly termed as self-determination. The autonomy right entails having the power to make’s one’s choices and decisions. Other rights affected by moral issue include freedom from inhuman, cruel and degrading treatment, right to both health and healthcare, freedom from conscience inclusive of religion, and also right to liberty.

Analysis of the Problem

For decades, the debate on the molarity of abortions has been based on philosophical, theological ethics arguments which support or refute either side of the argument. The theological perspective to a great extent supports pro-life; however, some of the theologians support abortion. The article, “Answering the Theological Case for Abortion Rights: The Bible” argues that, while the Bible is somewhat silent on the issue of abortion, it, however, does not condone the act in accordance to the scriptures and as a result abortion is immoral. According to the article, some of the scriptures that affirm the unborn child’s humanity include the Luke gospel. In the New Testament, Luke’s gospel applies the term “baby” as well as “child” consistently to describe John the Baptist before his birth, thus in Luke: 1:41 & 1:44 which states “ The “baby” leapt in Elizabeth’s Womb” (Answering the Theological Case for Abortion Rights: The Bible). Later in chapter 2:12:16 the terms baby is also used to refer to Jesus soon after his birth; therefore, Luke’s application of the term baby for pre-born John the Baptist is of great importance

Another support of the argument is the fact that many scriptures also talk about God knowing the unborn and endows each of them with a special purpose even before being born. Some of these scriptures include Gal. 1:15 where the apostle Paul states that he was “set apart in the womb” for serving Christ,” the author argues that this cannot happen if a fetus was mere tissue (Answering the Theological Case for Abortion Rights: The Bible). While these articles are not exhaustive, the scriptures to a great extent treats the unborn child as a human being. Concerning this, in Exodus 20:13- the scripture states that no individual has the rights to kill; therefore, it forbids killing which can be translated to abortion (Alcorn).

According to the article “Breath is life: Defending abortion from a liberal Christian perspective,” Rev. William Mclennan, a professor in Stanford argues that abortion cannot be considered as immoral since personhood or human life only begins after birth (Mclennan). According to Mclennan, this is supported by St. Augustine’s adoption of the Aristotelian belief that a fetus only has a soul only from forty to ninety days, thus after conception. Moreover, according to Saint Jerome, until the fetus acquires shape which includes having external features such as limbs, abortion is not considered as killing; hence, it is moral (Mclennan).

Mclennan’s theological perspective is also supported by Richard’s A. McCormick S.J. who also argues that abortion is a moral thing; particularly for the woman, as the fetus cannot be considered as a human before the fusion of the soul which only takes places at birth (Burns, 36). According to the article, another famous theologian that argues on the morality of abortion is Martin J. Buss, a professor in Chicago School of Divinity; Buss argues that abortion is not immoral since humanity is reached only when embryos develop language. Hence, an embryo is less important than a human being and therefore, the woman’s life, health or needs should be considered first (Burns, 39).

The issue of whether abortion is a moral or rather immoral act has been a subject of interest to many philosophers. Among these philosophers is Mary Elizabeth Williams who argues that even though a fetus can be considered as a human life; however, a fetus does not possess equal rights to those of a woman; therefore, abortions are not immoral. Another philosopher that views abortion as moral is Judith Jarvis Thomson who argues that abortion is morally permissible. She argues that despite an unborn fetus having the inherent right to life, the child does not have any rights over the woman's body (The Ethics of Abortion). Thomson thereby, supports the notion of abortion, however only under special circumstances. Like Judith Thomson, Marry Warren in her article “On the Moral and Legal Status of Abortion,” states that abortion can be considered as morally permissible at any particular stage during the pregnancy (The Ethics of Abortion).

However, other philosophers such as Don Marquis in his article, “Why abortion is immoral” argues that one of the reason why abortion is immoral is based on the effects the act of killing has, not on the woman, but rather on the unborn child. Some of these effects are such as the deprivation of life experiences as well as a future.

Normative Argument

While the issue on the morality of abortion remains contentious, this moral question should be addressed through the Utilitarianism theory. According to the theory, a moral action is that which produces the greatest good for many people, hence, an evaluation of whether or not the unborn fetus promotes happiness over pain is of essence. Concerning this, some of the legal considerations for an abortion can include, but not limited to pregnancy resulting from either incest or rape, endangerment to the mother’s life as well both physical and mental health, unwanted pregnancy. Other instances where abortion can be considered are such to prevent the birth of a child with severe congenital disabilities or rather medical conditions.

Works Cited

Alcorn, R. “Abortion”. Ligonier Ministries, (2013). Assessed, (30th November, 2017).

“Answering the Theological Case for Abortion Rights: The Bible”. Priests for Life, (n.d.). Assessed, (30th November, 2017).

Burns, D. “Abortion Law: A Theological Perspective”. Wilfrid Laurier University Scholars Commons @ Laurier, (2012). Pp. 92

Mclennan, S. “Breath is life: Defending abortion from a liberal Christian perspective”. UU World (2009). Assessed, (30th November, 2017).

“The Ethics of Abortion”. California State University Sacramento, (n.d.) Assessed, (30th November, 2017).

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