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When Does Human Life Begin?

Extracted and adapted from The Bible & Abortion:

LUKE 1:31,39,41-44

"[The angel said to her,] 'And now, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you will name him Jesus.' ... In those days Mary set out and went with haste to a Judean town in the hill country, where she entered the house of Zechariah and greeted Elizabeth. When Elizabeth heard Mary's greeting, the child leaped in her womb. And Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit and exclaimed with a loud cry, 'Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb. And why has this happened to me, that the mother of my Lord comes to me? For as soon as I heard the sound of your greeting, the child in my womb leaped for joy....' "

The immediacy of Mary's trip indicates that she had only been pregnant a very short time. The presence of Jesus in Mary's womb was recognized by the child John in Elizabeth's womb, indicating both had a spirit and a personality. John is described as the baby (Greek: brephos), the same term used to describe a baby out of the womb. A mass of inhuman matter could not generate or initiate a reaction as described in this passage.

In terms of weeks of pregnancy, Elizabeth was in her sixth month (Luke 1:36) and Mary no more than a week or two (Luke 1:31 revealed that Mary was not yet pregnant. She was a teenager then, and she went to Elizabeth immediately. The distance from her home in Nazareth to her cousin's home just south of Jerusalem is estimated by several sources to be 80 to 120 miles, in other words, at most 200km.)


"I call heaven and earth to witness against you today that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Choose life so that you and your descendants may live, loving the LORD your God, obeying him, and holding fast to him..." -- Deuteronomy 30:19-20

More scriptures on the nature of life in the womb from Abortion & The Bible. New Revised Standard Version (NRSV) and New King James Version (NKJV) are the translations used.

GENESIS 25:21-23

"Isaac prayed to the LORD for his wife ... and his wife Rebekah conceived. The children struggled together within her ... the LORD said to her, 'Two nations are in your womb...' "

This passage illustrates the separate personalities and destinies of the unborn children in the womb.


Exodus 21:22-25

NKJV: "If men who are fighting hit a pregnant woman and she gives birth prematurely but there is no serious injury, the offender must be fined whatever the woman's husband demands and the court allows. But if there is serious injury, you are to take life for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot, burn for burn, wound for wound, bruise for bruise."

NRSV: "When men have a fight and hurt a pregnant woman, so that she suffers a miscarriage, but no further injury, the guilty one shall be fined as much as the woman's husband demands of him, and he shall pay in the presence of the judges. But if injury ensues, you shall give life for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot, burn for burn, wound for wound, stripe for stripe."

Numbers 35:22,23 addresses the penalty for accidental (involuntary) manslaughter, and Numbers 35:29 gives the death of a man or woman (a 'person') equal weight in the law. Therefore, the inclusion of this verse has to apply to the death of the unborn or prematurely born baby. The accidental death of an unborn baby and/or its mother was more severely punished than the accidental death of an adult, indicating the value of the baby as a 'person.'


Psalm 127:3

"Sons are indeed a heritage from the LORD, the fruit of the womb a reward."

The King James Version translates the word children as 'fruit of the womb,' while the NIV shortens the phrase to 'children' or 'infants.' Science defines fruit as a 'seed and the surrounding envelope' (fleshy substance). While we may not want to eat a tiny apple, we do not deny it is still immature 'fruit.' The same reasoning should be applied to an immature human in the womb.


Psalm 139:13-16

"For it was you who formed my inward parts;
you knit me together in my mother's womb.
I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.
Wonderful are your works;
that I know very well.
My frame was not hidden from you,
when I was being made in secret,
intricately woven in the depths of the earth.
Your eyes beheld my unformed substance.
In your book were written
all the days that were formed for me,
when none of them as yet existed."

The process of building a human takes place in the womb (the same meaning as 'depths of the earth') with a purpose already assigned the unborn child by God. This passage substantiates the fact that the baby in the womb is an unborn person. There is no explanation of the exact 'week' of pregnancy at which this status is attained, thus there is no 'safe' period of time to abort an unborn child.


Isaiah 49:1

"The LORD called me before I was born, while I was in my mother's womb he named me."

The conveying of a sacred mission through a 'call' can only be done to a human being with a spirit (soul).


Jeremiah 1:5

"Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart; I appointed you as a prophet to the nations."

The pronoun 'you' signifies humanity of the life in the womb. Just as Isaiah was 'called' in the womb (Isaiah 49:1 above), Jeremiah as 'set apart' (consecrated or sanctified) for a special mission in life.


Jeremiah 20:17

"because he did not kill me in the womb; so my mother would have been my grave, and her womb for ever great. "

Jeremiah refers to himself as an unborn a human being who might have been killed before birth.


Mark 10:7,8

"For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh." So they are no longer two, but one flesh.

If the joining of a man and woman in a marriage ceremony makes them 'one flesh,' doesn't the joining of the egg and sperm instantly make the offspring a living human being?


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IT IS GENERALLY AGREED THAT TAKING OF AN INNOCENT LIFE IS WRONG, SO THE ABORTION DEBATE CENTERS ON THE POINT AT WHICH THE LIFE IN THE MOTHER'S WOMB ACTUALLY BECOMES A 'PERSON.' SCRIPTURE SPEAKS STRONGLY TO THE FACT THAT LIFE IN THE WOMB IS A PERSON, AND SINCE WE HAVE NO CONCLUSIVE WAY OF DETERMINING AT WHAT POINT THE FETUS BECOMES A SCIENTIFICALLY DEFINED 'PERSON,' ALL ABORTION AT ANY STAGE MUST BE VIEWED AS WRONG. ABORTING AT ANY POINT BEYOND THE UNION OF THE SPERM AND EGG IS RISKING THE TAKING OF AN INNOCENT HUMAN LIFE.

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(See also Fetal Development Overview, Reason, Science, & Stem Cells, When Does Human Life Begins?, Exodus 21:22-25 and Abortion, Catholic Answers on Abortion, What does the Bible say about Abortion? and The Bible and Abortion.)


by tree#138680 on Sun Oct 24 04 4:25 am | profile

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