The 27 books of the New Testament are indisputably silent on the subject of abortion. Yet many Christians feel strongly that opposition to abortion is the biblical position. Many others are confused by this puzzling silence, for they intuitively question the compatibility of abortion and Christian faith. Still others maintain that the New Testament’s silence means that abortion was, and must continue to be, a matter of individual conscience.

These polar perspectives, along with the confusion of those caught in the middle, have divided the Christian community for the last 20 years of debate since Roe v. Wade. For those who take the Bible as their authority in matters of faith and life, the New Testament’s puzzling silence on abortion seems indeed to be a serious problem. Given this silence, would it not be most logical—most biblical—to affirm freedom of conscience with abortion? Could it be that when it comes to abortion, the New Testament’s silence implies neutrality, ambiguity, or even acceptance? Doesn’t this historical silence also logically lead to the theological conclusion that God is neutral about or even accepting of abortion? And if God is, at most, neutral, how can anyone be dogmatically opposed?

The Bible and fetal personhood

The “individual-conscience” interpretation of the New Testament’s silence has been vigorously advocated by one very significant and powerful organization, the Religious Coalition for Abortion Rights (RCAR). RCAR, their literature states, is “a national, nonprofit, nonpartisan coalition of 35 Protestant, Jewish, and other denominations and faith groups” that are “religiously and theologically diverse … [but] unified ...

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