Abortion: Biblical Considerations -- By: Dónal P. O’Mathúna

Journal: Ashland Theological Journal
Volume: ATJ 28:0 (NA 1996)
Article: Abortion: Biblical Considerations
Author: Dónal P. O’Mathúna

Biblical Considerations

Dónal P. O’Mathúna

Dónal O’Mathúna (Ph.D. - Ohio State, 1988; M.A. - ATS, 1994), teaches chemistry and medical ethics at Mt. Carmel College of Nursing (Columbus, OH)


This is the second of two papers written in response to two recent books by Christians on abortion. Allan R. Bevere addressed the theological and philosophical issues raised by these books.1 This paper will deal with the more specifically biblical issues brought up in the books. We have somewhat arbitrarily divided the themes addressed by our papers, so they would be best read in conjunction with one another. The book edited by Anne Eggebroten claims that its pro-abortion position is “another valid, Bible-based alternative.”2 Close examination of her position will reveal that she has failed to make a convincing case for this. On the other hand, the book edited by Paul Stallsworth develops sound biblical arguments for opposing abortion in ways that do not drift into the extreme positions taken by a few in the pro-life movement.3 Neither will they permit indifference to this important issue.

Revelation Versus Experience

Eggebroten points out that the Bible does not directly address the morality of abortion. Others have claimed that this silence shows that the Bible should not be used to condemn abortion.4 Eggebroten acknowledges that other biblical themes can guide abortion decisions, but since the Bible is used both to support and to oppose abortion, no one position should be viewed as better than another.5 Therefore, people should be free to make their own decisions, and all laws against abortion should be eliminated.

As such, Eggebroten’s position is a postmodern one.6 She accepts the possibility of many valid interpretations of a text. In place of this, she relies on experience to validate her position. She notes that God teaches much of the truth of the Bible through story-telling and not “dry discussion.”7 Advocating the same in discussions of abortion, her book is primarily a collection of stories about women dealing with abortion.

Stories are certainly useful teaching tools. Eggebroten’s stories clearly show the pain experienced by many women with crisis pregnancies. However, stories cannot be the primary source of moral teaching. Even biblical stories must be filtered through the ethica...

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