Religious Right Wrong on Abortion

The Religious Right often talk about how abortion is wrong because it goes against their religion. Ignoring that religious beliefs are irrelevant for legislation, it is odd that no one ever calls them on it. Their religion does not decry abortion.

The end all be all of religious debate is scripture, so I’ll talk about that first and then we’ll get to theology. I wonder what the Bible says. Well, let’s see. The only verse I could find that disapprove of abortion specifically is Exodus 21:22-25:

“When men strive together, and hurt a woman with child, so that there is a miscarriage, and yet no harm follows, the one who hurt her shall be fined, according as the woman’s husband shall lay upon him; and he shall pay as the judges determine. If any harm follows, then you shall give life for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot, burn for burn, wound for wound, stripe for stripe.”

Ah, so abortion is wrong! Not so fast; let’s take a minute and look a bit closer. It seems that this only covers an extremely small subset of abortions. This indicates that if two men are fighting and accidentally cause an abortion, then they must pay a fine. The only time actual injury is involved is if the woman is hurt. This verse seems a bit too narrow to apply across the board about abortion, but the rest are covered by “Thou shalt not murder”, right? Unfortunately, the Bible does not give a definition of murder, so we cannot tell whether the abortion of a fetus is murder. We can, however, gather some information from the above verse to make a judgement on whether abortion is murder.
Consider that this verse is the only type of abortion that is specifically called out as wrong. That could mean either it is murder (all other abortions are implied) or that it is not (this is a lesser type of abortion). The punishment, though, gives us a clue.
This case of abortion sounds like it might be an accidental death. Let’s look at the punishment for that:

“Anyone who strikes a man and kills him shall surely be put to death. However, if he does not do it intentionally, but God lets it happen, he is to flee to a place I will designate. But if a man schemes and kills another man deliberately, take him away from my altar and put him to death.”-Exodus 21:12-14

So, we can clearly see that premeditated murder calls for death, but you go free for manslaughter. The punishment for manslaughter doesn’t quite fit here. The abortion verse might also be for property damage, so let’s look at the punishment for that. I couldn’t find a verse specifically about property damage, but Exodus 22 goes on about theft. Basically, you have to pay for what you stole. In the one case of property damage (crops burned by fire), the punishment is replacing the crops.
If we look at the accidental abortion as a case of property damage (which isn’t all that unlikely in the times these laws were written), then we should expect the punishment to be restitution of the property! It’s not very feasible to just give them another fetus, so it seems reasonable that the husband (the property owner) and the court should decide a reasonable compensation.┬áIf it is indeed equal to property damage, can a man be punished for breaking his own property?

Now, how about that theology I mentioned earlier? Well, most of the RR claim that the soul is present from fertilization. That should be fairly troubling for them. Here’s why: It’s a biological fact that the vast majority of all pregnancies end in miscarriage (often without the mother even knowing she was pregnant). So, we have a predicament here. If an unborn fetus dies and it’s soul goes to Hell, then God is an immoral monster. Since God, by definition, is morally perfect, we must conclude that the soul of a dead unborn fetus goes directly to Heaven. Does that not mean that abortion is one of the most morally praiseworthy acts possible as it keeps the souls from undergoing any suffering at all and go directly to eternal bliss?

Yes, once again the Religious Right prove that they are neither.