The biblical case for abortion rights.

In response to my review of After Tiller, the Palace received a most welcome missive from occasional co-blogger and self-appointed Loyal Subject™ SJ. It began, of course, with all of the requisite glowing encomiums, effusive praise and over-the-top accolades to be expected from anyone even minimally worthy of such a title, highlighting one passage from my post in particular:

And of course we never hear any reasonable arguments for restricting abortions. In fact I have never heard a single one. Anywhere. Ever.

After which SJ deployed his trademark sneering, seething, searing snark thusly:

But, but . .  . it’s Biblical, isn’t it?

And oh! How I LOLed.

And then, I went on one of those righteous rants upon which Loyal Readers™ have come to depend, as the very sustenance of life itself. Not for SJ’s edification, mind you: he loathes the Judeo-Christian bible and religions based thereon at least as much as I do, and has a set of keys to the Palace for good reason. I think I felt compelled to respond to his question—as if it were actually serious!—at least in part because there were so many thoughts left unsaid in my previous post. In addition, I was reminded vividly of the stupefying ignorance Christians routinely display about the contents of their terrible holy book. So here it is (with links added and minor edits).


Biblical? Tellingly, no. That book is silent on abortion per se, even though we can be pretty certain it occurred (with more or less stigma) in all times and places throughout recorded history and probably long before. Where the bible does touch on the value of fetus-vs.-person, it is made explicitly clear they are not the same thing. In Exodus 21:22-25, Mosaic law requires the death penalty for the murder of a pregnant person, but only a fine for the forceful expulsion of a fetus. Further, although the bible is one of the most inconsistent tomes I have ever read, it is remarkably consistent in its message that life begins at breath, from Adam in Genesis 2:7 onward. This is why observant Jews do not have baby showers or prepare their homes for the arrival of an infant before it is born—i.e. breathing. Until then, it is not deemed a person.

On the other hand, the god of the bible clearly loves him some baby killin’ and child murderin’. A small sample:

  • Numbers 31:17 Now therefore kill every male among the little ones.

  • Deuteronomy 2:34 utterly destroyed the men and the women and the little ones.

  • Deuteronomy 28:53 And thou shalt eat the fruit of thine own body, the flesh of thy sons and of thy daughters.

  • I Samuel 15:3 slay both man and woman, infant and suckling.

  • 2 Kings 8:12 dash their children, and rip up their women with child.

  • 2 Kings 15:16 all the women therein that were with child he ripped up.

  • Isaiah 13:16 Their children also shall be dashed to pieces before their eyes; their houses shall be spoiled and their wives ravished.

  • Isaiah 13:18 They shall have no pity on the fruit of the womb; their eyes shall not spare children.

  • Lamentations 2:20 Shall the women eat their fruit, and children.

  • Ezekiel 9:6 Slay utterly old and young, both maids and little children.

  • Hosea 9:14 give them a miscarrying womb and dry breasts.

  • Hosea 13:16 their infants shall be dashed in pieces, and their women with child shall be ripped up.

The lovely Psalm 137:9 says “Happy shall he be, that taketh and dasheth thy little ones against the stones.” But I think my personal favorite is 2 Kings 2:23-24, where gawd unleashes a bear two bears (a fucking bear!? two fucking bears!? Srsly?) to maul to death 42 children, because they teased his prophet for being bald. This should not be surprising in a moral universe where kids deserve the death penalty for…cursing at their parents.

So the bible is completely at odds with anti-abortion rhetoric—except in one sense. From cover to cover, it is utterly contemptuous of women.

It enrages and infuriates me that mainstream pro-choice organizations never tackle the religious underpinnings of their adversaries. I can almost understand it from a tactical perspective: given the population we’re dealing with here, their messaging must necessarily appeal to many Christians. And the support of mainstream/liberal Christians was absolutely critical in agitating for abortion rights in the lead up to Roe v. Wade. (I don’t know whether they used bible verses to bolster their messaging and rally the troops, but it’s an interesting question.) But I think we can safely conclude that giving religion a free pass has been a miserable failure. The right is winning this war on women, and they are openly, loudly, overwhelmingly Christian.

This cannot be pointed out often enough.

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