Perhaps the most crucial question in the abortion debate is when (or even whether) the fetus is to be considered a human being. The answers given range all the way from the moment of conception to the moment of birth. Evidence for a particular position is usually taken from science—such factors as genetic uniqueness, the development of the cardiovascular system, or the presence of brain waves.

Evangelical Christians, however, are interested in a second source of information on this subject, the Bible. The problem is that the biblical teaching directly relevant to the abortion debate is quite scanty. There are a few passages, such as Psalms 139:13–15, Job 3:11, Jeremiah 1:5, and Luke 1:39–44, that are often cited as evidence that God considers the unborn child fully human. This line of evidence has led many Christians to conclude that abortion is the killing of a human being and is therefore wrong, except when resorted to as the lesser of two evils.

Another passage of Scripture to which an appeal is being made more and more in the current debate is Exodus 21:22–25, which reads as follows in the American Standard Version:

And if men strive together, and hurt a woman with child, so that her fruit depart, and yet no harm follow; he shall be surely fined, according as the woman’s husband shall lay upon him; and he shall pay as the judges determine. But if any harm follow, then thou shalt give life for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot, burning for burning, wound for wound, stripe for stripe.

A number of evangelicals are among those who think this passage indicates that the Bible makes a distinction between fully human life and the life of the fetus. These verses are taken to mean that a fetus is not ...

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