What Does the Bible Actually Say about Abortion?

While the word abortion is not explicitly mentioned in the Bible, it did not exist as a medical procedure in biblical times. As many Christians view abortion as murder, the Bible explicitly condemns killing others, especially the innocent. 

GodUpdates Contributor
Updated Apr 15, 2024
What Does the Bible Actually Say about Abortion?

With the Dobbs decision returning abortion regulation to state control, discussions about the issue have intensified. Central to the debate is whether the Bible addresses abortion. Typically, those on the pro-life side reference the biblical command "thou shalt not kill" (Exodus 20:13; Deuteronomy 5:17), as well as other scriptures that mandate punishment for intentional killing (such as Leviticus 25:21), to argue that abortion is equivalent to murder. They often refer to a fetus as an "unborn child," emphasizing the Bible's stance against killing, its teachings on the sanctity of life, and the consequences it lays out for actions leading to miscarriages. From these references, it is apparent that the Bible does not support abortion and, in fact, appears to condemn it.

What does the Bible say about abortion? Is abortion in the Bible?

Although the Bible never explicitly addresses the topic of abortion, multiple instructions in Scripture make it evident what the biblical view of abortion is.

Founded on the Bible’s prohibitions against killing, teaching about the sanctity of human life, and its retributions for negligence that leads to miscarriages, it is evident that the Bible does not condone abortion and even condemns it.

Key Bible Verses about Abortion:

"For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother's womb. I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well." (Psalm 139:13-14)

"There are six things that the Lord hates, seven that are an abomination to him: haughty eyes, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blooda heart that devises wicked schemes, feet that are quick to rush into evil, a false witness who pours out lies and a person who stirs up conflict in the community." (Proverbs 6:16-19)

Abortion in the Bible: Table of Contents

What the Bible Says About Abortion

The word abortion is not explicitly cited in the Bible, and it was not as prevalent in biblical times as it is now. As many Christians view abortion as murder, the Bible explicitly condemns killing others, especially the innocent. It is considered the killing of a human being created in God's image because He values human life. Jeremiah 1:5 tells us that God knew us before He formed us in the womb. 

When Does the Bible Say Life Begins?

The Bible has a great deal to say about the value God puts on life and even when life begins. King David illustrates this most beautifully in Psalm 139:

For You created my inmost being; You knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise You because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Your works are wonderful, I know that full well. My frame was not hidden from You when I was made in the secret place, when I was woven together in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in Your book before one of them came to be.

Without the benefit of ultrasounds and modern science, David penned these words that our hearts instinctively know. Life is life. It is precious, whether one day or 100 years on this earth. Even within the womb, God sees life, values it, is the author, and has ordained all the days of its life just like he has with each of us.

Jesus reaffirmed his position, the value of life, and even children by coming into the world through a young, unwed teenage girl named Mary. In those days, an unwed, pregnant woman could be put to death in the eyes of the law. Another passage about life references Mary’s cousin Elizabeth, when she became pregnant in her old age. While John was still in the womb, he revealed his personality when he lept for joy at the sound of Mary’s voice.

The same New Testament Greek word “brephos” is used to describe John’s inter-uterine joy (Luke 1:41), the baby Jesus (Luke 2:12,16), and the children approaching Jesus during his ministry (Luke 18:15). The Bible has dozens and dozens of scriptures referencing the value of life.

This is what the LORD says — your Redeemer, who formed you in the womb: I am the LORD, the Maker of all things, who stretches out the heavens, who spreads out the earth by myself. (Isaiah 44:24).

Know that the Lord is God. It is he who made us, and we are his, we are his people, the sheep of his pasture (Psalm 100:3).

Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart; I appointed you as a prophet to the nations (Jeremiah 1:5).

But when He who had set me apart before I was born, and had called me through His grace (Galatians 1:15).

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ for giving us through Christ every possible spiritual benefit as citizens of heaven! For consider what he has done — before the foundation of the world He chose us to become, in Christ, His holy and blameless children living within His constant care (Ephesians 1:3-4).

Is Abortion a Sin?

The Bible does not clearly state abortion as a sin. However, Psalm 106 reiterates the history of the nation of Israel, their dabbling with child sacrifice, and how costly that was for them because of how abhorrent it is to God. Then in Jeremiah 32, we see God again, rebuking the nation, Israel, for sacrificing their children to the God of Moloch. The false God, Moloch.

And he says something that never entered my mind. Abortion is unthinkable to God. I’ve had people say to me, “Well, the Bible’s silent on abortion. So it’s just a matter of moral conscience for women.”

While abortion is not included in Mosaic law, the death of an unborn child is referenced in Exodus 21:22-25, and the abuser is penalized and fined for harm caused. This implies the value of life that the entire Bible testifies, is applicable to the life developing in the mother's womb. Psalm 139:13-16 speaks of God’s involved role in our creation and formation in utero:

"For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place, when I was woven together in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be" (Psalm 139:13-16). 

Scripture emphasizes this principle consistently. You'll also find through the whole of scripture, that Israel devalued their children again and again, and they paid a very high price every time.

Bible Verses About Abortion

Genesis 1:27 - “So God created man in His own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.

Job 33:4 - “The Spirit of God has made me, and the breath of the Almighty gives me life.”

Psalm 119:73a - “Your hands made me and formed me.

Job 10:11-12 - “You clothed me with skin and flesh, and knit me together with bones and sinews. You have granted me life and steadfast love.

Isaiah 44:24 - “Thus says the Lord, your Redeemer, who formed you from the womb: ‘I am the Lord, who made all things, who alone stretched out the heavens, who spread out the earth by myself.'”

Jeremiah 1:5 - “Before I formed you in your mother’s body I chose you. Before you were born I set you apart to serve me. I appointed you to be a prophet to the nations.

Luke 1:15 - “He will be filled with the Holy Spirit, even from his mother’s womb.

pro life bible verses

Top Abortion Quotes

  1. “In biblical terms, the sanctity of human life is rooted and grounded in creation. Mankind is not viewed as a cosmic accident but as the product of a carefully executed creation by an eternal God. Human dignity is derived from God. Man as a finite, dependent, contingent creature is assigned a high value by his Creator.”—R.C. Sproul

  2. “The Bible makes it clear that God sees the unborn infant not as a piece of superfluous biological tissue, but as a person created by Him for life.”—Billy Graham

  3. “God sanctifies human life. Every beating heart matters to God. Whether that life is in the womb of a mother, the cell of a prison, the hallway of a convalescent home, or the corner office of a Wall Street high rise, that life is holy to God.”—Max Lucado

  4. Psalm 139 is perhaps the quintessential text for discussing the sanctity of life. In this psalm, David praises God for his creation in his mother’s womb. Theologically, this psalm leaves no doubt that the child in the womb is a human being, with days ahead of him already marked out by God. Our God is deeply and actively involved in our creation. Theologically, life begins at conception.”—Matt Chandler

  5. “From conception to our final breath on this earth, all life is a sacred gift from Almighty God. It must be cherished in our hearts and protected through our actions, both in our capacity as individuals and also through our laws and policies as a nation.”—Dr. James Dobson

  6. “Every human life is precious. Unborn life is precious. Children with special needs are precious. Aging parents are precious—even when they don’t remember because they’re suffering dementia, they’re still made in the image of God. Children or parents who are non-verbal, those in a wheelchair, and those who are completely dependent upon you or doctors are precious. All of life matters to God. If we have our eyes open, we can see this in even the most surprising places in the Bible, like in the lex talionis of the Mosaic law. You see it in imago Dei. You see it in the incarnation where God entered the world as a helpless babe.”—Kevin DeYoung

  7. “The Scriptures tell us that humans are made ‘in the image of God’ (Genesis 1:27). Because we are made in His likeness, we have a tremendous capacity to participate in God’s ongoing work of creation by imagining, inventing, building, farming and a million other creative expressions. Best of all, He invites us to marry and receive the gift of children also formed in God’s image.”—Kurt Bruner

Does Murder Include the Unborn?

Strong evidence can be found that God believes the lives of the unborn are to be protected and ending them at the hands of abuse would be considered murder. The only Biblical reference to the death of an unborn child is one of the Mosaic laws that referenced a miscarriage due to abuse: If a woman has a miscarriage as a result of a fight, the man who caused it would be severely punished up to death.

If men strive, and hurt a woman with child, so that her fruit depart from her, and yet no mischief follow: he shall be surely punished accordingly as the woman’s husband will lay upon him; and he shall pay as the judges determine. And if any mischief follow, then thou shalt give life for life, Eye for eye, tooth for tooth (Exodus 21:22-25).

Friends, our humanity is given. It is not earned. For those who say anyone gets to decide when life is a life is to play God. Only He alone has the authority.

Is Abortion Wrong if the Mother's Life is at Risk?

This crisis is incredibly rare. GotQuestions provides quotes from renowned biologists and doctors in fertility study, sharing:

"Dr. Landrum Shettles, a pioneer in the field of in vitro fertilization, wrote, “Less than 1 percent of all abortions are performed to save the mother’s life” (Landrum Shettles and David Rorvik, Rites of Life, Zondervan Publishing House, 1983, p. 129). Dr. Irving Cushner, Professor of Obstetrics at the UCLA School of Medicine, when testifying before the U. S. Senate, was asked how often abortions are necessary to save the life of the mother or to preserve her physical health. His response: “In this country, about 1 percent” (testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee’s Subcommittee on the Constitution of the United States on October 14, 1981, quoted in The Village Voice, July 16, 1985)." (GotQuestions)

When this dilemma does occur, it creates a conscious choice between two equally precious lives. If the unborn child lives, the mother dies, and vice versa. In some cases, both will pass. Who can say that this woman – a woman who may be someone else’s mom, wife, or daughter – should die in this situation? Obviously, there is no painless solution. Either option carries heartbreaking and regrettable outcomes for each person involved.

It's crucial to approach these discussions with a profound understanding of the complexities involved and a commitment to empathy and compassion. While the sanctity of life remains a paramount value, the acknowledgment of exceptional circumstances where the life of the mother is at risk reflects a compassionate interpretation of Biblical doctrine, grounded in the imperative to love and protect life in all its forms.  

Scripture emphasizes the sanctity of life as a foundational principle, but there is a recognition that real-world situations may demand a measured and compassionate response. In cases where a mother's life is in jeopardy during pregnancy, the prevailing view among many Christians is that, under such dire circumstances, abortion may be considered a morally justifiable and even necessary choice.

Advice For Those Who Have Had an Abortion

Perhaps you have a friend who has had an abortion, or perhaps you have. I don’t know your story; I don’t know your circumstances, but I do know this: Jesus isn’t shocked by abortion. He knows everything about you and wants to take the shame and insurmountable pain off your shoulders. He wants to wash you in grace and set you free.

When Jesus receives you, you are united with him. He goes to God on your behalf. And do you know what our mighty Father God says? “You have been crucified with Christ — you’ve already been through judgment — you are now hidden in Jesus. You are my child in whom I am well pleased.” You are fully known and loved by God.

And the beautiful part? Your child is waiting for you. He or she is with Jesus, and when she asks when she will get to see you, Jesus simply replies, “Tomorrow,” because one day in his courts is 1,000 years on this earth.

If you have had an abortion, find a friend you can trust and open up about your story. Look for a biblical counselor and join an abortion recovery group if there is one in your area. You are not alone, and someday God could use your story to free another woman. Who the Son sets free is free indeed.

Talking to People about Abortion

Crosswalk.com: Is the Bible silent on abortion? - Kim Ketola from crosswalkquestions on GodTube.

Related Podcast:

Note: The views expressed in the podcast are those of the speakers and may not necessarily represent the views of Christianity.com, its writers or staff.

Further Reading:

Personhood, Grace, and the Sanctity of Human Life

What Ever Happened to Jane Roe?

5 Prayers for Women after Roe v. Wade Decision

Abortion in the Bible

What Is the Christian Perspective on the Roe v. Wade Decision?

Photo Credit: ©iStock/Getty Images Plus/petrunjela

Heather Riggleman is a believer, wife, mom, author, social media consultant, and full-time writer. She lives in Minden, Nebraska with her kids, high school sweetheart, and three cats who are her entourage around the homestead. She is a former award-winning journalist with over 2,000 articles published. She is full of grace and grit, raw honesty, and truly believes tacos can solve just about any situation. You can find her on GodUpdates, iBelieve, Crosswalk, Hello Darling, Focus On The Family, and in Brio Magazine. Connect with her at www.HeatherRiggleman.com or on Facebook.  


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