This deals with the fundamental question… when does life begin? At what stage do we consider someone a person? As an embryo? As a fetus (latin for: “little one”)? When they are born? Because if we consider that life begins at conception, that at that point is when we are who we are then all of the other pro-abortion arguments fall away… it is the mother’s body argument, the privacy argument, the rape and incest argument all it. We wouldn’t kill a child outside of the womb for any of those reasons. So if life begins at conception those arguments fall short as well.
Greg Koukl in “Fetal Personhood: It’s Simple” states:
The fact is that human beings are persons. They are personal kinds of beings whether they are in an early stage of development or a later stage of development. That’s what a human is and it remains itself from the beginning to end. It’s very simple. It’s not hard. It’s not complex. We’ve known it for ages. This personhood argument is only 10-20 years old, since Roe vs. Wade , Frank Beckwith says. Before then there was never a personhood argument. It was introduced after Roe v. Wade to make the decision to have an abortion a little more palatable. The same thing happened with Dred Scott. He’s not a person, he’s black. He’s not a person, though he’s a human technically; but that’s just a little detail. It’s not significant.
I’d like to give some biblical underpinnings to this argument of when life begins. For those of you who do not respect the Bible’s authority on this matter I will later on look at what can be learned from medicine and science.
The first verse we can look at is at the very beginning when God created humans.
So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them, (Genesis 1:27, ESV).
We are created in His image… unlike any of the animals we are spiritual beings with eternal souls. We were created unique.
In the Old Testament Law we see:
“When men strive together and hit a pregnant woman, so that her children come out, but there is no harm, the one who hit her shall surely be fined, as the woman’s husband shall impose on him, and he shall pay as the judges determine. But if there is harm, then you shall pay life for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot, burn for burn, wound for wound, stripe for stripe,” (Exodus 21:22-25, ESV).
The word for children in this passage is the Hebrew word yelet. It is used for the unborn in this passage, but it is generally used to indicate young children. This word can also be used to refer to teens or even young adults however. There is no separate word used for the unborn. The unborn were seen as being just like any other children, but younger, (Lawrence O. Richards, Expository Dictionary of Bible Words (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1985), 156-7).
You see this with the penalty that occurs with the harm of an unborn child. They do not distinguish between born and unborn. There is no personhood argument. If the child is stillborn as a result, under OT law the person responsible committed a capital offense.
Also when Job pleas to God about the circumstances he faced he talks about God’s involvement in his life before he is even born.
Your hands fashioned and made me,
and now you have destroyed me altogether.
Remember that you have made me like clay;
and will you return me to the dust?
Did you not pour me out like milk
and curdle me like cheese?
You clothed me with skin and flesh,
and knit me together with bones and sinews.
You have granted me life and steadfast love,
and your care has preserved my spirit, (Job 10:8-12, ESV).
The thing to note is that the person in the womb wasn’t something that might become Job. This child was Job, just at an earlier stage of life.
Isaiah 44:2 says that the God who made us who formed us in the womb would help us. Psalm 51:5 says that we were “brought forth in iniquity, and in sin did (our) mother conceive (us).” Then in the Psalms we see a cornerstone passage.
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.
My frame was not hidden from you,
when I was being made in secret,
intricately woven in the depths of the earth.
Your eyes saw my unformed substance;
in your book were written, every one of them,
the days that were formed for me,
when as yet there was none of them, (Psalm 139:13-16, ESV)
God said to the prophet Jeremiah “before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you; I appointed you a prophet to the nations,” (Jeremiah 1:5, ESV). So God is involved not only with those who have been born, but also the unborn.
Randy Alcorn demonstrates personhood of the unborn in the Gospels:
In Luke 1:41, 44 there are references to the unborn John the Baptist, who as the end of his second trimester in the womb. The word translated baby in these verses is theses verses is the Greek word brephos. It is the same word used for the already born baby Jesus (Luke 2:12, 16) and for the babies brought to Jesus to receive His blessing (Luke 18:15-17). It is also the same word used in Acts 7:19 for the newborn babies killed by Pharaoh. To the writers of the New Testament, like the Old, whether born or unborn, a baby is simply a baby. It appears that the preborn John the Baptist responded to presence of the preborn Jesus
is His mother Mary, when Jesus was probably no more than ten days beyond His conception (Luke 1:41).
The angel Gabriel told Mary that she would be “with child and give birth to a son” (Luke 1:31). In the first century, and in every century, to be pregnant is to be with child, not with that which might become a child. The Scriptures teach the psychosomatic unity of the whole person, body, soul, and spirit (1 Thessalonians 5:23). Wherever there is a genetically distinct living human being, there is a living soul and spirit, (Randy Alcorn, ProLife Answers to ProChoice Arguments, Portland, OR: Multnomah, 2000, pg. 314-315).
It boils down to whether or not the unborn are persons. If the unborn can claim personhood there is no reason in the world that can justify their murder.
Originally posted on 1/24/2008 at Caffeinated Thoughts.