Religion and Abortion Essay

Submitted By ohdarling17
Words: 1697
Pages: 7

Abortion and Religions

Abortion is a serious ethical issue and it is only natural that most major religions would have something to say on the issue, even if only indirectly. Opponents of abortion will be quick to point out those aspects of religious traditions which somehow prohibit abortion, but we must keep in mind the fact of abortion being practiced in every society far back as historical records prove. An absolute condemnation of abortion is an abstraction that cannot survive in the real world where pregnancy, birth, and raising children are difficult and dangerous prospects for women. As long as women bear children, women will be in situations where they sincerely believe that ending their pregnancy is the best of all possible options. Religions have had to deal with this fact, and being unable to eliminate abortion entirely, they have had to make room for cases when abortion might be acceptable. When religious positions on abortion are discussed, we usually hear how abortion as condemned and classified as murder. Religious traditions are more pluralistic and varied than that, however, and even within those religions most publicly opposed to abortion, we find that there are traditions which would permit abortion, even if only in limited circumstances. It's important to understand these traditions because not every religion regards abortion as a simplistic, black & white decision.
The Catholic Church opposes and condemns any and all direct abortions. Even pregnancies that result from rape, incest, and present a danger to the life of the mother aren’t reasons for abortion. The Roman Catholic Church teaches that human life is created and begins at the moment of conception. Catholics believe that willingly, knowingly, and deliberately committing evil is never justifiable, no matter how good the intention and no matter how noble the cause. This is a moral absolute for Catholics, and it can’t be diluted or altered.(Dalby ) They view abortion as the termination of an unborn life, and therefore, it’s always wrong, sinful, and immoral. The circumstances by which that life was conceived are considered irrelevant, but this strictness only dates to Pope Pius XI’s 1930 encyclical Casti Connubii. (Carrell 12-38) Before this, there was more debate on abortion. The Bible doesn’t condemn abortion and church tradition rarely addresses it. Early church theologians generally allow abortion in the first 3 months and prior to quickening, when the soul supposedly entered the fetus. For a long time, the Vatican refused to issue a binding position. So the church teaches that one innocent life can’t be taken even if it would save hundreds, thousands, or millions.
Ancient Judaism was naturally pro-natalist, but without a central authority dictating orthodox beliefs, there has been vigorous debate on abortion. (Daniel)The ancient Jews believed that Moses created an assembly of seventy elders to act as judges; to interpret the Torah (Law). In the Book of Numbers it reads: "And the Lord said unto Moses, Gather unto me seventy men of the elders of Israel, whom thou knowest to be the elders of the people, and officers over them; and bring them unto the tabernacle of the congregation, that they may stand there with thee.And I will come down and talk with thee there: and I will take of the Spirit which is upon thee, and will put it upon them; and they shall bear the burden of the people with thee, that thou bear it [i.e. judgment] not thyself alone." (Numbers 11:16-17) In other words, God promised that he would give the seventy elders divine inspiration in interpreting the Law (Torah) via the Holy Spirit; as he gave Moses divine inspiration in writing the Law (Torah). The Torah became known as the 'Written Law', and the decisions of the seventy elders known as “The Great Assembly” became known as the “Oral Law” (unwritten Law passed down by word-of-mouth). Both were considered to be equally binding because both were inspired by the Holy