Recently my home state of Alabama passed the most restrictive abortion law in the nation to date. I wanted to ask you if we as Christians can allow abortion. Many well-meaning people have differing opinions on this, as there are some morally difficult cases. For instance, while there are not that many cases of rape-induced pregnancy or cases of women whose lives are endangered by pregnancy, there are women who have experienced this. What do we tell women who have been raped or whose lives are in danger? Should they be forced to carry the child for 9 months or possibly give up their lives? If we can’t make that argument then it is possible that the procedure of abortion can’t entirely be done away with. I myself am struggling with this because as a future health professional I may one day come into contact with a situation like this. What should believers who work in healthcare say and do?


We Christians do not either allow or disallow abortion, because we do not run governments and we do not make the votes in the legislatures or in the courts. Whether we would or would not “allow” abortion, it seems to me, is irrelevant because it is not up to us. Here is the problem. This is a political issue and we, as believers, do not control the political world. Politics is of the world. What happened in Alabama is more about politics than anything else, in my opinion.

Of course, if you are an American, then you may have the right to vote on this question, but we need to realize that we are not the deciders. We are part of a culture and a society which is not particularly Christian. Even if it were, our weapons are not of this world, and politics is always of the world.

When given the opportunity, I would vote to make abortion illegal. Personally, I believe that it is murder, and, whether one is a Christian or not, murder is not something that any society should support.

But here is the problem. There is no “Christian” political party. We do not get to vote straight up on abortion. Instead, we vote for candidates with various positions on this question, but there are many other issues that we care about. The politician who is against abortion is also a supporter of the rich against the poor and who at times opposes justice to women, people of color and to those from outside our country. Those who seem to care about the environment and social justice usually vote to allow abortion and those who vote not to allow abortion tend to take positions against helping those Jesus showed great compassion to. So…. Who should one vote for? We almost never get to vote straight up for or against abortion. If we Christians were given this opportunity, I am sure we would vote to make abortion illegal, but this is not the situation. Let me say this: it is complicated. There is no Christian political party.

Another factor is this. Our culture is not Christian. (assuming, again, that you are American–my apologies to those who are not!). The American constitution is implicitly secular. It is not clear that it is our job to impose our Christian morality on those who are not Christians. There are a lot of things we believe are sinful but which we do not make illegal in the name of personal freedom. Personal freedom is an American value–one which most believers support.

Despite this, like I said, if given the opportunity, I would vote to make abortion illegal as killing innocent children seems to me to be a universally reprehensible act, whether one is Christian or not. And, all things else being equal, I would prefer a candidate for office who opposes abortion (but not all things are equal).

About those who were impregnated due to rape or incest or whose lives are in danger due to pregnancy, I will let individuals have their own conviction about whether we, as Christians, ought to force those who are not of our religion on this question. I will refrain from expressing my opinion on this. What I would say is that, as a health care professional, you should obey your conscience and your conviction, even if it means losing your job some day. I think this is fairly unlikely (that your job would be at stake). It is more likely you may end up working for an organization which does immoral things, even if you are not forced to do immoral things yourself. This is a harder question. This is something you will have to follow your conscience and conviction on.

Let me answer another aspect of your question. Assuming that abortion is legal, should a Christian woman consider aborting her unborn child personally in the case of rape or of risk of death of the mother? In the first case, as horrible as it may be to contemplate a woman who has been raped having to bring her child to term, I believe that we cannot, as Christians, justify killing a baby just because we feel incredibly abused by having to carry this child who is the result of abuse. I believe that adoption is an excellent choice in this case. The Christian woman may choose not to keep the child, but she should not kill the child.

As for the rather unusual case of a pregnancy in which the mother’s life is seriously in danger but the child might be viable, this is a difficult ethical quandary. Here the choice is between two evils–losing the mother or losing the child. I believe that it is possible to justify killing the child if it is almost certain that not doing so would result in the mother dying. To me, this extremely rare circumstance produces a debatable moral/ethical choice, but I would lean in the direction of saving the mother. Let us pray that none of us are ever in such a terribly difficult place.

Personally, if I were a member of a state legislature, I would feel it not to be my place to force a non-Christian woman to die in order to save her unborn child, so I would vote in favor of this exception. Again, I will never have this option of casting such a vote, but this is how I would vote on this issue.

In summary, if we truly lived in a Christian nation, then I assume abortion would be illegal, but there is no Christian nation on the earth. We live among people who are either not Christian at all, or ones who are only nominally Christian. Therefore, whether or not abortion is allowed is mostly out of our hands. On the question of whether a Christian woman ought to consider aborting her unborn child, I believe that the answer is certainly no, except in the extremely rare situation in which her life is almost certainly at risk. This is a moral quandary which I will leave in the hands of the woman in question.
By the way, this whole answer is predicated on the fact that there is no Bible verse on abortion. I am giving my opinion on the assumption that to kill an unborn child is to kill a human being, in which case what the Bible says about killing humans applies in the case of abortion.

John Oakes

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