RE:QUESTA space for resources to help RE teachers and their students explore the Christian faith
Lat Blaylock, Editor, RE Today
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Christian Attitudes to Abortion
Arguments for and against
Abortion is the deliberate termination of a pregnancy to stop a child from being born. It is an issue that Christians have different views on. Christians form their beliefs depending on the church denomination that they belong to and/or their personal interpretation of the Bible's teaching on the sanctity of life.
Arguments Against Abortion
Some Christians - for example, Roman Catholics - are strongly against abortion. They believe that the taking of life is wrong, regardless of the circumstances. These Christians are pro-life and believe this because:
- Life is a gift from God, therefore it is sacred and holy. You can find out why they believe this by clicking here.
- Life begins at conception, the instant fertilisation takes place.
- Each person has value regardless of their quality of life. A child may be born with a disability, but their life is still valuable and important.
- God has a purpose for everyone, therefore to take away their life is a sin against him.
- The Bible teaches that the taking of life is wrong. The Ten Commandments teach, 'You shall not murder.' Exodus 20:13.
- In 1968, Pope Paul VI stated that abortion was unacceptable in the Humanae Vitae: 'All direct abortion, even for therapeutic reasons, are to absolutely excluded as lawful means of regulating the number of children.'
Arguments For Abortion
However, other Christians - for example some who belong to the Church of England - hold different views. These Christians are pro-choice and may feel that abortion is the 'lesser of two evils.' They believe this because:
- When Jesus was asked what the greatest commandment was, he answered ‘Love God… and love your neighbour as yourself.’ (Matthew 22:37-39). Every other law, Jesus explained, hung on these two key principles. Some Christians choose to let this argument determine their beliefs and actions. In any given situation, the most important question is ‘What is the kindest and most loving thing to do?’ Making a woman have an unwanted baby is, some might argue, an unkind thing to do, particularly if she has been sexually assaulted or the baby is severely disabled.
- Medical technology has progressed and now babies with disabilities can be identified. If a baby has a disability that would give him or her a difficult life, it might be the kindest thing to do.
- If the mother's life is at risk, it is the best option, particularly if there are other children in the family.
- Nobody is sure when life begins. Life might begin after conception, at some point during the pregnancy.
- God gave everybody free will, therefore, if someone wishes to have an abortion, they should be allowed to. It's their choice.
- In 2011. the Church of England stated, 'The Church of England combines strong opposition to abortion with a recognition that there can be strictly limited conditions under which it may be morally preferable to any
available alternative. This is based on our view that the foetus is a human life with the potential to develop relationships, think, pray, choose and love.' These 'limited conditions' might include a mother's life at risk or severe disability detected in the baby.
Christians will sometimes apply the principles of situation ethics, with each case being evaluated depending on the individual's circumstances.