Does the Bible consider the fetus a person?
If men have a fight and one of them causes a pregnant woman to miscarry, the penalty was a fine; if the mother was harmed, it was "life for life" (Exod. 21:22,23). While a small number of politically correct fundamentalist Bibles try to fix this verse (NIV), all of the major scholarly translations think the best way to translate the literal “goes forth” in Ex. 21:22 is with the word “miscarriage.”
- Revised Standard Version
- The American Standard
- New English Bible
- Today's English Version
- The Douay-Rheims Bible
- The Jerusalem Bible
- Numbers 5:17-31
…and the priest shall take holy water in an earthen vessel, and take some of the dust that is on the floor of the tabernacle and put it into the water.
This passage describes a method by which the husband could induce an abortion, with the help of the priest. If a husband suspected that his wife had engaged in an adulterous relationship, then he would bring her to the tabernacle and the priest would make a magical drink consisting of holy water and sweepings from the tabernacle floor. He would then have the woman drink the water while he recited a curse on her. The curse would state that her abdomen would swell and her thigh waste away if she had committed adultery. If she were pregnant at this time, the curse would certainly induce a miscarriage. There is no concern about the fate of the fetus. There was no similar magical test that a woman could require of her husband if she suspected him of adultery.
- Leviticus 27:6
If the person is from a month old up to five years old, your valuation shall be…
A child was only given a value after the age of one month; boys were worth five shekels; girls three. Below the age of one month they were given no monetary value.
- Numbers 3:15
…every male from a month old and upward you shall number.
Only male babies over one month of age were counted as persons during a census. A baby under one month of age and a fetus were not counted as a person.
- Hosea 13:16
…their little ones will be dashed to the ground; their pregnant women ripped open.
Tamar was found to be pregnant and because she was a widow, without a husband, she was assumed to be a prostitute. Her father-in-law Judah ordered that she be burned alive for her crime. If Tamar's twin fetuses had been considered to have any value whatsoever, her execution would have been delayed until after their birth. There was no condemnation on Judah for deciding to take this action. (Judah later changed his mind when he found out that HE had impregnated Tamar when she posed as a prostitute.)
2 Kings 15:16
He [Menahem, king of Israel] sacked Tiphsah and ripped open all the pregnant women. He apparently was angry that the people of Tiphsah refused to open the gates of the city. The king obviously gave no value to the life of a fetus.
- Numbers 31:17-18
Now, kill all the boys. And kill every women who has slept with a man, but save for yourselves every girl who has never slept with a man.
Moses, under orders from God, ordered the soldiers to kill every boy and non-virgin woman. Many of the latter would be pregnant so their fetus was killed too. Thirty two thousand female virgins were spared because they had value to the men. The fetuses were destroyed, because they were perceived to have no value.
- Deuteronomy 2:34
And we captured all his cities at that time and utterly destroyed every city, men, women, and children; we left none remaining;…
They exterminated all of the people, including children and the fetuses of pregnant women –- under the instruction of the God of the Bible. This is an early example of ethnic cleansing.
- 1 Sam. 15:3; see Ezekiel 9:6
Thus says the LORD… kill both man and woman, infant and suckling, ox and sheep, camel and ass.
The Bible contains over 600 laws governing everything from fabrics to how to cut a beard yet contains no law prohibiting abortion. Jesus never mentioned it. As the Oxford Companion to the Bible notes:
Biblical legislation, as in Leviticus 27:3-7, indicates that the lives of children as well as women were not valued as highly as those of adult men, while no value whatsoever was given to a child under the age of one month. There is no indication that a fetus had any status. (Abortion article, page 4)
For more information, visit http://ffrf.org/component/k2/item/15141-what-does-the-bible-say-about-abortion?-12-or-100-pack.