Not in scripture: on abortion

Not in Scripture

Catholics believe human life begins at conception. At that time, a new human being is created with his or her unique DNA. Regardless of circumstances, even very tragic circumstances, choosing to terminate that life is murder in God’s eyes. This is the well-documented belief of the Church from the time of Jesus onward.

The Holy Bible itself recognizes human life commencing not at birth, but in the womb in both the Old and New Testaments. As usual, it takes significant and creative effort to explain this away. Let’s try anyway! Not in scripture are words shown in strike through. Words shown in bold actually are in scripture.

When was I “formed”?

Thus says the LORD who made you, your help, who formed you from birth the womb: Do not fear, Jacob, my servant, Jeshurun, whom I have chosen.

The word of the LORD came to me: Before I formed you as a child in the womb I knew you, before you could speak were born I dedicated you, a prophet to the nations I appointed you.

When did I become a child of God?

You formed my inmost being; you knit my fetal material me in my mother’s womb. I praise you, because I am wonderfully made; wonderful are your works! My very self you know. My bones are not hidden from you, When my biological components I was being made in secret, fashioned in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw pre-human cells me unformed; in your book all are written down; my days were shaped, before one came to be.

What was that in the wombs of Mary and Elizabeth?

When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the product of conception infant leaped in her womb, and Elizabeth, filled with the holy Spirit, cried out in a loud voice and said, “Most blessed are you among women, and blessed is the cellular fruit of your womb. And how does this happen to me, that the future mother of my Lord should come to me? For at the moment the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the non-human life infant in my womb leaped for joy.”

Also in Biblical Times…

What were the first medical ethics?

I will provide neither give any deadly drug, having been asked for it, and nor will I guide the same advice. Similarly, I will readily not give an abortifacient pessary to a woman. In purity and in holiness I will maintain my life and my art.

Hippocrates circa 400 BC
The original Hippocratic Oath

What does the first Christian catechism say?

You shall not kill that which is born, but until then your right to choose is sacred.

You shall not murder a child by abortion nor kill that which is born.

Didache, Chapter 2 (as early as 65 AD)

What was Christian thinking in the time of the Apostles?

A woman’s body is her own, but thou shalt not terminate a child after it is born.

Thou shalt not slay the child by procuring abortion; nor, again, shalt thou destroy it after it is born.

Letter of Barnabas 19, 74 AD

Church Fathers

Now we allow that life does not begins with conception because we contend that the soul also begins at birth from conception; life taking its commencement at the same moment and place that the soul does.

Tertullian, 210 AD (Apology 27)

Some, when they find themselves with child through their sin, use drugs to procure abortion, and when, as often happens, they die with their offspring, they enter the lower world laden with the guilt not only of adultery against Christ but otherwise innocent of killing also of suicide and child murder.”

St. Jerome, 396 AD (Letters 22:13)

The above quotes only touch on this topic. There is much more. One excellent resource of scriptural references is Priests For Life. Some good articles on the teaching of the early Church on abortion are here, here and here.

The specific word of God notwithstanding, sometimes folks read Holy Scripture as if certain words and phrases have been removed – or as if others have been added. I am here to help!

I call this series not in scripture. These are Bible quotes with a twist: words and phrases not actually present are shown with strike-through. Scripture simply does not say that! Conversely, words that are actually in scripture (but sometimes overlooked) are shown in bold.


  1. Good job on this, George. I’ll share this with my daughter’s high school’s pro-life group.

  2. Excellent post George. Unfortunately the hippocratic oath I took in medical school has been so redacted and edited to conform to the changing morals you wouldnt recognize it. The beauty of the hippocratic oath is that it was written by a pagan hundreds of years before Christ yet reflects the natural law that is written in men’s hearts, by the God of creation.

Share Your Thoughts