Is There A Moral Right To Abortion

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Is There a Moral Right to Abortion? The tragedy of an unwanted pregnancy that threatens a woman's life or health existed in the ancient world as it does today. At the time the Bible was written, abortion was widely practiced in spite of heavy penalties. The Hebrew scriptures had no laws forbidding abortion. This was chiefly because the Hebrews placed a higher value on women than did their neighbors. There are, however, some references to the termination of pregnancy. Exod. 21:22-25 says that if a pregnant woman has a miscarriage as a result of injuries she receives during a fight between two men, the penalty for the loss of the fetus is a fine; if the woman is killed, the penalty is "life for life." It is obvious from this passage that men whose fighting had caused a woman to miscarry were not regarded as murderers because they had not killed the woman. The woman, undeniably, had greater moral and religious worth than did the fetus. A reference in the Mosaic law which is found in, Num. 5:11-31 indicates that if a husband suspects his wife is pregnant by another man, the "husband shall bring his wife to the priest," who shall mix a drink intended to make her confess or be threatened with termination of her pregnancy if she has been unfaithful to her husband. Aside from these passages, the Bible does not deal with the subject of abortion. Although both Testaments generally criticize the practices of the Hebrews' neighbors, such as idol worship and prostitution, as well as various immoral acts committed in their own land, there is no condemnation or prohibition of abortion anywhere in the Bible in spite of the fact that techniques for inducing abortion had been developed and were widely used by the time of the New Testament. A key question in the abortion controversy is, "When does human life begin?' The Bible's clear answer is that human life begins at birth, with the first breath. In Gen. 2:7, God "breathed into his nostrils the breath of life and man became a living being" (in some translations, "a living soul"). The Hebrew word for human being or living person is nephesh, which is also the word for "breathing." Nephesh occurs hundreds of times in the Bible as the identifying factor in human life. This is consistent with the opinion of modem medical science. A group of 167 distinguished scientists an... ... middle of paper ... ...rs. Such people should be reminded that men and women sometimes find themselves caught in situations that they feel leave them no choice, and that we all need understanding, forgiveness, and compassion. All too often a young, physically and psychologically vulnerable woman must bear the entire cal, social, emotional, and financial cost of birth while the father of the child assumes no responsibility. A young woman in those circumstances needs the acceptance, love, and compassion of her parents, her pastor, and her community. In the story of the woman who was about to be stoned because she had been caught in the act of adultery, Jesus expressed compassion and understanding when he said to the men, "Let him who is without sin cast the first stone," and to the woman, "Neither do I condemn you." Jesus was always more critical of sins of the spirit than sins of the flesh. That is why he spoke so compassionately to this woman, but so strongly to the self-righteous, legalistic men. All of us who discuss ethics must learn from Jesus that it is not laws that make people good, but love, education, active concern for are others, arid forgiveness when others found wanting.

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