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My Take: When evangelicals were pro-choice
The author notes that evangelical Christians were once largely pro-abortion rights.
October 30th, 2012
05:54 PM ET

My Take: When evangelicals were pro-choice

Editor's Note: Jonathan Dudley is the author of "Broken Words: The Abuse of Science and Faith in American Politics."

By Jonathan Dudley, Special to CNN

Over the course of the 2012 election season, evangelical politicians have put their community’s hard-line opposition to abortion on dramatic display.

Missouri Rep. Todd Akin claimed “legitimate rape” doesn’t result in pregnancy. Indiana Senate candidate Richard Mourdock insisted that “even when life begins in that horrible situation of rape, that it is something that God intended to happen.”

While these statements have understandably provoked outrage, they’ve also reinforced a false assumption, shared by liberals and conservatives alike: that uncompromising opposition to abortion is a timeless feature of evangelical Christianity.

The reality is that what conservative Christians now say is the Bible’s clear teaching on the matter was not a widespread interpretation until the late 20th century.

Opinion: Let's get real about abortions

In 1968, Christianity Today published a special issue on contraception and abortion, encapsulating the consensus among evangelical thinkers at the time. In the leading article, professor Bruce Waltke, of the famously conservative Dallas Theological Seminary, explained the Bible plainly teaches that life begins at birth:

“God does not regard the fetus as a soul, no matter how far gestation has progressed. The Law plainly exacts: 'If a man kills any human life he will be put to death' (Lev. 24:17). But according to Exodus 21:22–24, the destruction of the fetus is not a capital offense… Clearly, then, in contrast to the mother, the fetus is not reckoned as a soul.”

The magazine Christian Life agreed, insisting, “The Bible definitely pinpoints a difference in the value of a fetus and an adult.” And the Southern Baptist Convention passed a 1971 resolution affirming abortion should be legal not only to protect the life of the mother, but to protect her emotional health as well.

Opinion: Why the abortion issue won’t go away

These stalwart evangelical institutions and leaders would be heretics by today’s standards. Yet their positions were mainstream at the time, widely believed by born-again Christians to flow from the unambiguous teaching of Scripture.

Televangelist Jerry Falwell spearheaded the reversal of opinion on abortion in the late 1970s, leading his Moral Majority activist group into close political alliance with Catholic organizations against the sexual revolution.

In contrast to evangelicals, Catholics had mobilized against abortion immediately after Roe v. Wade. Drawing on mid-19th century Church doctrines, organizations like the National Right to Life Committee insisted a right to life exists from the moment of conception.

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As evangelical leaders formed common cause with Catholics on topics like feminism and homosexuality, they began re-interpreting the Bible as teaching the Roman Catholic position on abortion.

Falwell’s first major treatment of the issue, in a 1980 book chapter called, significantly, “The Right to Life,” declared, “The Bible clearly states that life begins at conception… (Abortion) is murder according to the Word of God.”

With the megawatt power of his TV presence and mailing list, Falwell and his allies disseminated these interpretations to evangelicals across America.

CNN’s Belief Blog: The faith angles behind the biggest stories

By 1984, it became clear these efforts had worked. That year, InterVarsity Press published the book Brave New People, which re-stated the 1970 evangelical consensus: abortion was a tough issue and warranted in many circumstances.

An avalanche of protests met the publication, forcing InterVarsity Press to withdraw a book for the first time in its history.

“The heresy of which I appear to be guilty,” the author lamented, “is that I cannot state categorically that human/personal life commences at day one of gestation.... In order to be labeled an evangelical, it is now essential to hold a particular view of the status of the embryo and fetus.”

What the author quickly realized was that the “biblical view on abortion” had dramatically shifted over the course of a mere 15 years, from clearly stating life begins at birth to just as clearly teaching it begins at conception.

During the 2008 presidential election, Purpose Driven Life author Rick Warren demonstrated the depth of this shift when he proclaimed: “The reason I believe life begins at conception is ‘cause the Bible says it.”

It is hard to underestimate the political significance of this reversal. It has required the GOP presidential nominee to switch his views from pro-choice to pro-life to be a viable candidate. It has led conservative Christians to vote for politicians like Akin and Mourdock for an entire generation.

And on November 6, it will lead millions of evangelicals to support Mitt Romney over Barack Obama out of the conviction that the Bible unequivocally forbids abortion.

But before casting their ballots, such evangelicals would benefit from pausing to look back at their own history. In doing so, they might consider the possibility that they aren’t submitting to the dictates of a timeless biblical truth, but instead, to the goals of a well-organized political initiative only a little more than 30 years old.

The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Jonathan Dudley.

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Abortion • Catholic Church • Christianity • Opinion

soundoff (2,844 Responses)
  1. dglipetz

    Abortion has nothing to do with religion. It has to do with the fact that it is MURDERING A LIVING CHILD. When a car hits a pregnant woman and kills both her and the child I am sure you would all be clamoring for the driver to be charged with a double homicide. But when the responsibility for that life shifts to you, ohhh nevermind it's not reallyyyy that alive minus the whole heartbeat thing. Abortion is disgusting and an irresponsible murderous cop out by everyone involved, whether you're religiously affiliated or not.

    October 31, 2012 at 2:48 pm |
    • Huebert

      Abortion is not murder. Murder is a crime, abortion is not. See the difference?

      October 31, 2012 at 2:54 pm |
    • CGAW

      Yes, killing a child is murder. Human dead by hands of another? See that there is no difference.

      October 31, 2012 at 3:04 pm |
    • DrJStrangepork

      Abortion is murder. Premeditated ceasing of life functions. Just like capitol punishment is premeditated ceasing of life functions. We have to realize that we a kill other living things. You say it as if you are not guilty of it too. If you are a voting, taxpayer like me, you are culpable in the murder of thousands of people. How can you sleep at night?

      October 31, 2012 at 3:08 pm |
    • therealpeace2all

      @dglipetz

      Another...**Pro-Forced Gestationer** ™ I see.

      Peace...

      October 31, 2012 at 3:15 pm |
  2. Gary

    I have always believed that life begins at conception. Scientifically, I understand that when cells divide, life as we know it has started. This has always made me popular with religious leaning friends and family.

    The confusion in all of society, not just America, however, is the classification of that life and is it human. The first question should be do you believe in a soul, and second, when does life posses it. If you believe that a life without a soul can be terminated without committing a sin, then this is the most important question to the issue of abortion. If you believe that life cannot be terminated, period, then we need to address the death penalty as well as eating meat and fish. That is also life, regardless of the question of a soul.

    Some people ask these questions and think on these positions. Most listen to TV for their answer.

    October 31, 2012 at 2:47 pm |
    • Anybody know how to read?

      Meat and fish? Not more of rehashed Hinduism. Ain't the caste system itself god enough for ya?

      October 31, 2012 at 2:58 pm |
  3. badskippy

    fine – if "life" begins at conceptions, why dont you remove the fetus from the mother and see if it lives? i will answer my own questiosn – IT WON'T. until the fetus is able to live on it's own, WITHOUT the mother, it is just a parasitic lifeform that is attached to the mother. hard as that is to accept, it is the biological truth. and if GOD wanted the baby to be alive and a "person" at the moment of conception, then why didn't HE make it so it didn't live off another?

    October 31, 2012 at 2:42 pm |
    • ELR

      I agree, we would just be laying eggs...

      October 31, 2012 at 2:44 pm |
  4. real_personn

    Excellent article.

    October 31, 2012 at 2:39 pm |
  5. The Truth

    Let's take this from the top.

    America is a nation of law's designed to protect individual rights to liberty and justice for all.

    America draws a clear line between Church and State by stating "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion."

    American courts ruled on abortion allowing it up to the point where the fetus is viable to live outside the womb.

    No American has been forced to have an abortion against their will.

    The End.

    Any attempt to force religious doctrine upon others should be seen as an attempt to overthrow the government by the Churches in favor of a theocracy and should be dealt with as such.

    October 31, 2012 at 2:39 pm |
    • therealpeace2all

      @The Truth

      Well said.

      Peace...

      October 31, 2012 at 2:43 pm |
    • Gary

      Please tell me that you are in a potion where people listen to what you have to say. Very well said.

      October 31, 2012 at 2:49 pm |
    • Bikerchick777

      How many fathers have had unborn children aborted "against their will"?

      October 31, 2012 at 2:50 pm |
    • Huebert

      Biker

      Considering father's can't pregnant, I'm going to have to say none.

      October 31, 2012 at 2:59 pm |
    • Bikerchick777

      Under the law, however, the fact that a man is biologically different than a woman, makes no difference in his rights as a parent. He is bound by law to be responsible for any child that he fathers for the first 18 years of the child's life under penalty of possible imprisonment if he does not comply. But the mother has complete control over whether or not the fetus becomes a child?

      October 31, 2012 at 3:08 pm |
    • Huebert

      Biker

      "But the mother has complete control over whether or not the fetus becomes a child?"

      Considering that the fetus develops inside the mother's body, and the mother bears all of the risk of the pregnancy, yes it is ultimately her choice. If the mother has a relationship to the father then she should take his opinion into account, but the final decision is hers.

      October 31, 2012 at 3:17 pm |
  6. Anon

    Over 50% of all fertilized eggs (human beings by a conservative's standard) do not attach to the walls of the ute-rus and are flushed out during a woman's normal period. So by a pro-lifer's stance, every se-xually active woman (even married) that has had more than one period is a serial killer. Moreover, if god is killing over half of the potential humans, doesn't that make god an abortionist?

    If it's good enough for god, it's good enough for me.

    October 31, 2012 at 2:36 pm |
    • tiedtotheair

      If an egg is a person with legal rights then it should get the hell out of my body and live as a person on its own. Whatever is in my body is a part of my body and therefore none of your Goddann business. And for all you people who call yourselves prolifers? Howcan you be pro-life and sentence a REAL PERSON to death by frying them in a electric chair? You right wing extremists are such hypocritical liars...

      October 31, 2012 at 2:49 pm |
  7. Kimberly

    Life can be sustained by premature infants born as early as 23 weeks/5months gestation (sometimes 22 weeks gestation) in our state of the art neonatal intensive care centers. I have met adults who were born this early who are thriving and making great contributions to our society. Why do we save some babies because their parents want them and kill others because their parents don't? This is particularly disturbing when you begin argueing for the justification of late term abortions performed for ANY reason at the request of the mother. At what point do we receive our human rights? If non-verbal animals have rights, why do non-verbal infants not have any? There are many pro-life arguments outside of the evangelistic or catholic faith arguments.

    October 31, 2012 at 2:34 pm |
    • therealpeace2all

      @Kimberly

      So, are you a **Pro-Forced Gestationer** ? Make, *enforce* by law, a woman to carry a child to term against her will ?

      Peace...

      October 31, 2012 at 2:38 pm |
    • BobInIrvine

      When you volunteer to take care of unwanted babies, you might have a moral leg to stand on.

      October 31, 2012 at 2:41 pm |
    • Ken in MD

      Infants do have rights. Any living being has rights. The question is when is the being considered "living"? As the article states, up until the 1970s, it was defined as at birth. Politics changed that definition, not the Bible.

      October 31, 2012 at 2:46 pm |
    • Huebert

      Why do we save some babies because their parents want them and kill others because their parents don't?
      We Don't kill babies we abort fetuses. We do this at the parent's discretion because, well, who else's discretion should we follow?

      At what point do we receive our human rights?
      At birth.

      If non-verbal animals have rights, why do non-verbal infants not have any?
      They do have rights. After they are born.

      There are many pro-life arguments outside of the evangelistic or catholic faith arguments.
      Such as?

      October 31, 2012 at 2:49 pm |
    • Martin

      If you know adults who were "born this early", then the "state of the art" hasn't progressed much, has it?

      October 31, 2012 at 2:52 pm |
  8. Andrew

    Abortion is tricky, and there are verses in The Bible that support life at conception as well. The first to my mind is the Psalm that says, "I knew you before you were in the womb." Whatever you believe, an abortion is erring on the side of risk. Usually, abortion is a sacrifice to the god of convenience. And because no one can say with any absolute arguement when life begins, murder is being risked for every abortion. Let me clarify, you might BELIEVE that life starts at some point after conception and before birth, but you can't sufficiently prove it so you don't KNOW it. KK Thesis for those who study philosophy. So abortion is erring on the side of risk.

    October 31, 2012 at 2:31 pm |
    • Waarii

      Andrew,

      State it out. What side are you on? I'm on the side of life. Abortion may not be murder technically. But it's as close as you can get. I say this because murder is defined by codified law and isn't exactly what you and I think.

      What's the difference between a perfectly well human baby at birth and the one in his mother's womb just a day before? Don't give me the Baby is part of the mother's body. You and I know he is simply a little human using his mothers womb as a shelter. How cruel can you be to yank that human out of your womb and throw him into trash?

      Think about it!

      October 31, 2012 at 2:40 pm |
    • Martin

      The Bible has no legitimacy in U.S. law. Period! People who base their political decisions on their religious beliefs may be good Christiand but they aren't good Americans.

      October 31, 2012 at 2:42 pm |
    • therealpeace2all

      @Andrew

      So, in essence, it looks like you are a **Pro-Forced Gestationer**(tm) ? Let's make, *enforce* by law, a woman to carry a child to term against her will.

      Yep... that's a great idea.

      Peace...

      October 31, 2012 at 2:45 pm |
    • DrJStrangepork

      Life began on this planet millions (if not a billion) years ago. The question in human abortion is when does a fetus become a human. The article points to a Christian explanation of birth. Science has shown that nine months can be shaved off a bit. So, the religious argument of life at conception is apparently a relatively new argument.
      Pregnancy is risk. Aborting all pregnancies would be the safer argument to make for health of the mother, but a bit of a non-starter for the continued presence of the species. How about this... instead of making this a black and white issue, we leave it to the particular people involved to the respective pregnancy. That way we can each reconcile ourselves to our particular morals/beliefs.

      October 31, 2012 at 2:52 pm |
    • therealpeace2all

      @DrJStrangepork

      You Said: " How about this... instead of making this a black and white issue, we leave it to the particular people involved to the respective pregnancy. That way we can each reconcile ourselves to our particular morals/beliefs. "

      Well, as long as the current *laws* stay as they are, then we are good already. That would fit your scenario which everyone has their *choice* about what to do concerning their respective pregnancy.

      Again, keep the *laws* as they are and everyone has their *choice* to reconcile themselves with their "particular morals/beliefs."

      Peace...

      October 31, 2012 at 3:23 pm |
  9. Alex

    Do any other people out there find it odd that everyone on these comment boards feel the need to completely exagerate everything and use name calling to try to make themselves look like idiots enough to confuse people? Exactly.

    If you're republican you're a bible hugger who is completely guided by faith and is a hypocrite old rich white man.
    If you're democrat you're a minority, aethiest, tree hugging socialist.

    I just don't understand how abortion can be a choice, IF there can also be someone convicted of manslaughter for killing a fetus. (criminal kills pregnant mother, gets two counts of manslaughter).

    October 31, 2012 at 2:31 pm |
    • Kettle

      Is that you pot?

      October 31, 2012 at 2:40 pm |
    • Tom in ATL

      Perfect point. Two counts of murder when a pregnant woman is murdered but accepting the 3000 unborn babies being killed every day. It makes no sense.

      October 31, 2012 at 2:44 pm |
    • Tek

      Good point.

      October 31, 2012 at 2:48 pm |
    • Ken in MD

      So the obvious solution is to get rid of the law that makes killing a pregnant woman 2 counts of murder. That law was proposed and forced through by Conservatives as a way of defining life. Don't base whether abortion is murder or not on a law that was created to enforce that very ideal.

      October 31, 2012 at 2:53 pm |
    • DrJStrangepork

      Yes.. we all know that consistency is the first thing that is checked off the list when a law is written.

      October 31, 2012 at 2:56 pm |
  10. Mother Who Miscarried

    So....let me get this straight: My husband and I tried for years to get pregnant. When we found out we were finally pregnant, we were ecstatic and excited about our new baby. But since our baby died at 12 weeks in utero, all of you people are saying that my baby wasn't a baby and basically we should never mourn his/her death? You know, now I understand why people were so hurtful and rude while we were going through the most devastating time of our life. I am neither pro-life or pro-choice but at least I am willing to respect the opinions of others. Where has human compassion gone?

    October 31, 2012 at 2:29 pm |
    • ELR

      I am sorry for your loss. We had 3, 3 pregnancies, 3 heartbeats.... then no heartbeats and 3 D&C's. It was awful, and on the way home from the my follow-up visit the last time, there was a man standing on the corner with the picture of an aborted fetus and it just about killed me. Frankly, he was lucky I didn't run him over with my car and blame it on hormones. We have decided not to try again, and we own that decision. My point is that no one knows what is in another persons heart. I always try to remind myself that the people who are cruel don't understand, and right after that, I say a prayer that they never will. I wish you peace and the best of luck if you try again.

      October 31, 2012 at 2:36 pm |
    • The Truth

      Compassion went out the window when some people attempt to force their beliefs on others. If you believe the religious right then it was God's will that you did not carry your child to a full term and it is God you should blame for allowing a tiny baby soul to float forever in limbo, or wherever the Church has decided to house those supposed souls now. If you believe the liberals then it was nature and you should try again but there is no baby soul looking down on you. I prefer the latter myself.

      October 31, 2012 at 2:44 pm |
    • derp

      As a parent of two wonderful children I have great sympathy for you and your husband.

      However, you did not lose a baby, you lost a fetus.

      At twelve weeks a fetus is about five centimeters and 14-15 grams. It will almost fit in a shot glass. It has zero chance of surviving or developing beyond it's limited development state outside the womb. It is shorter than my pinkie finger. It has barely progressed beyond zygote.

      I'm sorry for you loss. I hope that you and your husband can ultimately have a child.

      But lets not mix up terms here. That is what the anti choice movement has strategically done for three decades now to muddy the waters, create emotion, and try to force this debate away from scientific fact.

      You lost a fetus, not a baby.

      October 31, 2012 at 2:45 pm |
    • fred

      Nobody said any of that MWM. Your loss is tragic, but you are taking things out of context and applying what is being said in a way that offends you.

      October 31, 2012 at 2:45 pm |
    • George

      Mourning or not is your choice. Frankly, nature stopped the growth of the fetus because it had defective genes. Thats why most of the natural fetus deaths occur. You should be happy that the fetus growth was stopped before it materialized into a stand alone defective baby.

      October 31, 2012 at 2:46 pm |
    • ELR

      Note the words sympathy not empathy, I just said my prayer again.

      October 31, 2012 at 2:48 pm |
    • therealpeace2all

      @Mother Who Miscarried

      So *very* sorry for your loss.

      Please read the postings by, @derp, @fred, @George, @The Truth

      As it looks like you have some very large g-aps in your world-view and understandings.

      Again, sorry for your loss.

      Peace...

      October 31, 2012 at 2:50 pm |
    • Tek

      A new born baby left on it's own has no chance of survival. Many with disabilities left on their own have no chance of survival. Your logic is flawed.

      October 31, 2012 at 2:50 pm |
    • Zeus

      Mother, sorry for your loss. No one should be saying not to morn your loss, but your baby was not a viable individual. That doesn't mean you should not love it any less, but realize that biology and feelings rarely meet on level ground. The issue is that the religious zealots of this country attempt to force their way of thinking down America's throat by using invalid and much to often incorrect rhetoric. You loved your baby because of what it could be and what it meant to you, not because of what it was. That is beautiful and the essence of faith. What I and others are attempting to point out is that life has a definable and quantifiable beginning and conception is not the beginning. This has been proven over and over again and even the bible indirectly states that this is not the beginning of life. People believe what they want. It's the way it is.

      October 31, 2012 at 2:52 pm |
    • Tom in ATL

      @derp - you're incredibly naive. Every rational human being knows that a baby was lost. Its heart is beating. Its hands and fingers are visible. Its eyes are forming. Of course it can't survive on its own, it's still in its mother's womb. But life is created. And it is created by GOD. There's no man or woman alive who has the right to take it away. Only GOD can take it away. After you've breathed your last breath and you're face to face with the GOD of all creation, your excuse of 'it's a fetus' will guaranty your eternal destiny.

      October 31, 2012 at 2:53 pm |
    • Bikerchick777

      Very, very sorry for your loss. I lost a perfect baby at 36 weeks in utero due to a complete separation of the placenta. There was no "genetic abnormality" simply an inability for my body to adequately support the baby in utero. Not all miscarriages or stillbirths are due to a problem with the baby. To my mind, a mother knows that she is carrying life and babies do have souls. I truly believe that someday, I will be reunited with my little girl one day in heaven and you also will get to "meet" your children someday in the hereafter.

      October 31, 2012 at 2:55 pm |
    • Mother Who Miscarried

      Whatever people's opinion are regarding pro-choice or pro-life, if I see someone in mourning and find out they suffered a miscarriage, I would offer them help and support. You believe it is a fetus- I believe it is a baby. Regardless of opinion, if I was one of your family, would you tell me to suck it up because I lost a fetus and not a baby? How nice and Thank you!

      October 31, 2012 at 3:01 pm |
    • Mother Who Miscarried

      Thanks ELR and everyone else who understands. I appreciate it.

      October 31, 2012 at 3:10 pm |
    • Mother Who Miscarried

      and I am sorry to hear about your losses as well.

      October 31, 2012 at 3:26 pm |
  11. Primewonk

    From 2000 to 2006 the religious right (oxymoron) had the perfect storm. You nutters owned the White House, Senate, House, and Supreme Court. Yet you did nothing to ban abortion or overturn Roe v Wade.

    Can you figure out why?

    [Hiint: it's because you nutters are being played by your puppetmsters.]

    October 31, 2012 at 2:27 pm |
    • Alex

      So blowing a budget isn't equivalent to getting a liberal hand shoved up your ass?

      October 31, 2012 at 2:32 pm |
    • Tom in ATL

      The issue is much bigger than Roe v. Wade or your political parties. It's a moral issue of the highest regard. GOD creates life. Period. For you to take human life is a direct assault on GOD. You will be held accountable. It's that simple. Your eternity is at stake. For those who have committed the barbaric practice of aborting a baby, there's time to ask GOD to forgive. And He does. He loves you more than that awful crime. He protects the baby that was aborted. He will accept you if you ask Him into your life.

      October 31, 2012 at 3:01 pm |
    • Primewonk

      Apparently Alex is an ignorant tea bagger who lacks the ability to understand what I wrote. Why the need to try and move the goalposts, Sparky? Why not simply answer the fucking question? Again, from 2000 to 2006, the religious right (oxymoron) owned all 3 branches of the federal government. Why did they do absolutely nothing to ban abortion or overturn Roe?

      And apparently Tom is a fundiot nutterwho thinks we are a theocracy. Sorry Tom, but we are not a theocracy. Neither your version of a ggod, nor any version of any god has standing in our secular laws. But, like Alex, you ignored the fucking question. You ignorant cretins had 6 years. You did nothing.

      Neither of you morons seem to have a freaking clue as to how or why you are being played by your puppetmasters.

      October 31, 2012 at 3:14 pm |
  12. Mike

    Quoting the bible. hahaha. Quote something or read something meaningful instead of a bunch of mumbo jumbo written by ancients who were looking to grab power from emperors ans kings......god schmod.

    October 31, 2012 at 2:26 pm |
    • Alex

      I'd rather be on the wrong end of believing in God than not. You can't prove god doesn't exist, so why try to convince others? Don't try to bring people down with you Mike. I'll pray for your soul.

      October 31, 2012 at 2:34 pm |
    • Waarii

      Angry at G-d? Why angry at soemthign that doesn't exist? lol

      October 31, 2012 at 2:35 pm |
    • George

      @Alex: We can't prove that gods (plural because every king and religion had their own personal God) do not exist but we can definitely prove that you are stupid.

      October 31, 2012 at 2:47 pm |
    • derp

      "You can't prove god doesn't exist"

      So you believe in aliens, bigfoot, leprechauns and unicorns?

      October 31, 2012 at 2:48 pm |
    • Zeus

      I believe in the spaghetti monster and he can kick your gods butt. In fact if you don't believe in my God, the almighty spaghetti monster you will burn in hell for all eternity.

      Prove me wrong!

      October 31, 2012 at 2:55 pm |
  13. sam

    Is is better to have a child born and suffer terrible abuse in some families or a debilitating and painful disease than to be aborted before it can understand pain?

    October 31, 2012 at 2:26 pm |
    • Waarii

      Sam,

      Then why are your parents lettign you suffer a debilitating condition called apathy, cruelty and utter psychopathy?

      October 31, 2012 at 2:34 pm |
    • Tek

      You may experience suffering in your future so you should just end it now.

      October 31, 2012 at 2:45 pm |
  14. Not a bible thumper, but

    Per the author...."But according to Exodus 21:22–24, the destruction of the fetus is not a capital offense… Clearly, then, in contrast to the mother, the fetus is not reckoned as a soul.”

    It really states, "If people are fighting and hit a pregnant woman and she gives birth prematurely[a] but there is no serious injury, the offender must be fined whatever the woman’s husband demands and the court allows"

    The author is taking the leap, by saying that since the accident caused a miscarraige, it is ok to have abortions. I mot agree abortions are not good. it just depends, up to what point, to do you think anabortion is ok. 1 day, 1 week, 1 month, 7 month, 1 day prior to birth., etc...

    It is apparent that the aborted fetus is not considered the same as a living human being since the resulting punishment is not a capital offense(automatic death). But, it is clear that abortion is not permitted, as the punishment can be anything that the husband or local authorities wishes.

    Psalms 139:13 – For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother’s womb.

    October 31, 2012 at 2:26 pm |
    • Wes Scott

      So, if I write a book today in which I state that God said to kill all Christians because they are evil personified, then people 1,000 to 2,000 years from now are supposed to regard that as God's literal word and kill all Christians?

      It is a lie and a fallacy of reason to claim that the Wholly Babble is the "divinely inspired word of god." The Old Testament is merely a redaction of the Jewish Torah and the New Testament is a collection of selected writings chosen by the Holy Roman Church from among many such writings of the times to create their own answer to the Torah and their need for a new religion.

      Science says that life begins when a fetus reaches viability – its ability to survive outside the womb after separation from the umbilical cord. I trust science. I do not trust religious nuts with a personal agenda, especially when it comes cloaked in a Taliban-style aggression that wants to kill all who don't agree with its philosophy.

      October 31, 2012 at 2:43 pm |
    • Ben

      You do realize the author of this article was quoting Bruce Waltke, of the Dallas Theological Seminary right? It goes to show that the religious "right" take whatever interpretation that's convenient for them at the particular time.

      October 31, 2012 at 2:50 pm |
    • Tek

      That's a very thoughtful response to this difficult topic.

      October 31, 2012 at 2:53 pm |
    • Tom in ATL

      @Wes Scott - what about the thousands of people who saw and heard Jesus alive after he was crucified? Many of those writings support this, not just the Bible. Think for a minute how and when this lie and fallacy could have been introduced into culture. Was it in 50 AD, 1200 AD, or closer to 2000 AD? Don't you think people of whatever era would have known better if someone threw out a collection of writings that had no truth whatsoever in them? The writings are true! There are no secrets in the Bible. Jesus is who He said He is. He is the living GOD and He will come again. You still have time to reconsider your position. Start by reading the Bible for yourself. Start in the book of John. GOD will use it to transform your life forever.

      October 31, 2012 at 3:23 pm |
  15. Kira Valentine

    If you truly are concerned about saving the unborn or preventing abortions, then you should be wholeheartedly and doggedly fighting for readily available and affordable contraception. It is by-far the hugest way to slash abortions and all the data backs up that assertion. To boot, contraception provides a huge reduction in the occurrence of 'natural' abortions, where the embryo fails to implant in the uterus. I know that facts, data, statistics, and science won't have much of an effect on those who reside in the reality-challenged sphere. Before you spout Bible passage at me, I challenge you to read this essay first and THEN respond with viable arguments backing up your position:
    http://www.patheos.com/blogs/lovejoyfeminism/2012/10/how-i-lost-faith-in-the-pro-life-movement.html

    October 31, 2012 at 2:23 pm |
  16. reggiemcveggie

    i'm not a huge church goer but am able to decide abortion is awful. you can hear the heartbeat around 8 weeks. the fetus is alive. unfortunately has no value in our world.

    October 31, 2012 at 2:21 pm |
    • Nobody N. Particular

      Idiotic statement, there are numerous cases where a heartbeat is heard, but the fetus still dies, its called miscarriage and it happens frequently enough. So does that mean that God is a murder since he allowed the unborn to die before it was born? Please these arguments are stupid to the extreme, life begins AT BIRTH, not conception since there is no guarantee that a child that is conceived will be born.

      October 31, 2012 at 2:34 pm |
    • Alex

      Nobody, so with that logic, there isn't any guaruntee that you'll live until tomorrow, so you're not a living human.

      October 31, 2012 at 2:36 pm |
    • fred

      Alex

      You suck at logic

      October 31, 2012 at 2:51 pm |
    • Tek

      Nobody N. Particular
      There is a difference between a living thing with a heartbeat dying of natural causes and being killed intentionally. With your 'logic' it would be ok to kill any living thing with a heartbeat. I challenge you to define life and then prove that it begins at birth.

      October 31, 2012 at 2:58 pm |
    • Wes Scott

      Reggie, I wouldn't sweat not going to church very often – most "devout Christians" don't attend church all that often, either. They don't even know what they supposedly believe in. To them, the bible says whatever they want it to say regardless of how inaccurate that might be.

      October 31, 2012 at 3:06 pm |
    • Rob

      The real question is this: Is life in the heart (when a heartbeat can be heard) or is it in the head (when the newborn can actually think/feel/comprehend)? Is "killing" a fetus that doesn't know that it is "alive" wrong? Are you really "alive" if you cannot comprehend what "alive" is?

      October 31, 2012 at 3:14 pm |
    • Rob

      BUT, does a heartbeat necessarily mean something is alive? We kill insects every day, and they have hearts (sometimes 2). Why is that acceptable? We don't see a direct cause/effect of emotions coming from an insect. We all agree that hitting/killing dogs is wrong. Why? Because when you hit a dog, it responds with an action full of emotion that we can relate to. When killing an insect, you may see the bug move around rapidly but you don't get a reaction that would relate to mammals (yelping, crying, etc).
      Putting those emotions aside, a fetus has more in common with a parasite than it does a human in the early stages. The fetus cannot think/comprehend/or even voluntarily move (until the second trimester-the moving part anyways) and just extracts nutrients from it's host (or mother)to "live". Then there are the religious people who believe that by aborting, you are killing a soul. This reminds me of the saying "If a tree falls int he woods and no ones around to hear it, does it still make a sound?". Does a fetus have a soul if it cannot comprehend what a soul is? Your consience = your soul. In order to have a consience, you must have a certain amount of brain functionality. It a soul was determined by a beating heart, there wouldn't be any more room in heaven because it would be crowded with.....well, insects.

      October 31, 2012 at 3:37 pm |
  17. Doc Vestibule

    Let's have a though exercise and shift perspective a little bit.
    Imagine an 18 year old, developmentally disabled person, incapable of making rational decisions.
    They are hooked to a feeding tube and respirator in order to keep them alive.

    Should the parent or the government make the decision as to whether or not to pull the plug?

    October 31, 2012 at 2:21 pm |
  18. A Felony Argument

    Take religion out of the argument all together. If someone can be charged with felony manslaughter/murder for causing the death of an unborn fetus (Google:"Man charged in Death of unborn child"), how does the same charge not apply to someone seeking an abortion? Whether by choice, accident, or malice the result of either situation is the death of a fetus, so we as a society either decide that its wrong to end that "life" or its not. But we should not get to pick and choose. Abortion is no different than Assisted Suicide. It is a person making a decision about their body and right to life within their body without the physical means to personally end that life. So we have decided that women have the right to choose life for a fetus that they are responsible for, but that same woman is not afforded the same choice when it comes to her own life (in a non-pregnancy situation). And those assisting in one event are within the law and the other are criminals.

    October 31, 2012 at 2:20 pm |
    • derp

      You may want to google "viability".

      October 31, 2012 at 2:52 pm |
    • Ken in MD

      Your hypothesis is based on circular logic. In truth, the law that says killing a pregnant woman is 2 counts of murder was one proposed and passed by Conservative lawmakers as a way of defining life. You can't say that the law defends that killing a fetus is murder, when the law was written specifically to define a fetus as life.

      October 31, 2012 at 3:13 pm |
    • Nobody N. Particular

      Those laws were created to provide a backdoor to making abortion illegal, there are politicians who are making the same claims you did. They (and you evidently) are full of cr@p, since as I mentioned before, being conceived doesn't necessarily mean live birth, are we going to go after mothers who may have unintentionally harmed their children which led to miscarriages (i.e. smoking or drinking while pregnant)?

      October 31, 2012 at 4:00 pm |
  19. Lamb of dog

    I can't wait for the day people stop letting a book written by a bunch of ancient men run their lives. It is crazy how many nut jobs refer to an ancient text to base all of their life decisions.

    October 31, 2012 at 2:19 pm |
    • Tammy

      and one key word is "MEN". Men and politics have now right to tell a woman that she must carry a child full term.

      October 31, 2012 at 2:34 pm |
    • Waarii

      Tammy,

      What makes you think that you shouldn't carry a child full term. Tell us what authority you have over a child? What makes a difference between your already born child and the unborn one? Both depend on you for their life. So give us a good reason why you should end a flickerign life. Forget what you've been told by politicians or pastors.

      October 31, 2012 at 2:44 pm |
    • Tek

      Tammy, everyone in society has a right to voice their opinion and influence the government to do what is right. What about men who speak out against abuse against women by other women? Should they keep their opinions to themselves?

      October 31, 2012 at 3:02 pm |
    • pc&si

      W, first you charge Tammy to tell you what authority she has over a child, and then you assert that a fetus depends on its mother. I'd say that's a pretty good indicator of authority.

      A woman must have autonomy over her own body. Period.

      October 31, 2012 at 3:08 pm |
    • Ken in MD

      @Waarii, she's not claiming authority over a child. She's claiming authority over a fetus, which the law allows. The difference between her already born child and her unborn fetus is that one is alive and the other is not. Just because you want to define a fetus as a child doesn't make it so.

      October 31, 2012 at 3:16 pm |
  20. James

    Is Jonathan Dudley a faithful Christian?

    October 31, 2012 at 2:18 pm |
    • KBatch

      I am, and I believe exactly as he does–for evangelicals, this has been solely a political issue that Scripture is selectively used to support. The 'I knew you when I wove you in the womb' chapter says nothing like, "and woe to anyone who would take you from a womb for he commits murder," or something of that nature. Feminists look at that as a beautiful chapter on the female side of God since weaving is associated with weaving.

      October 31, 2012 at 2:45 pm |
    • KBatch

      I meant, "weaving is associated with women."

      October 31, 2012 at 2:47 pm |
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The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.