Granting a “Right” to Abortion is Far Above the Supreme Court’s Pay Grade

Recent exposes involving Planned Parenthood and its support of abortions for underage girls have ignited a political firestorm among social conservatives and breathed life into a nation-wide campaign to eliminate taxpayer funding for the “family planning” organization.

Pro-life members of Congress also have introduced legislation to bar government subsidies for abortions and – with narrow exceptions – health plans that cover abortions.  State lawmakers around the country are pushing to ban or to put strict limits on such procedures as well.

Coincidentally, January 22nd marked the anniversary of Roe vs. Wade, the case in which the U.S. Supreme Court infamously ruled there is a “right” to abortion.  But there is a distinct difference between having the ability to do a thing and having the right to do it.

Liberals love to chastise conservatives who oppose abortion but believe in the death penalty.  They argue if you do not believe in one, you cannot believe in the other.  But – and we will ignore the contradictions in their own beliefs – their argument fails.  The difference, of course, is the taking of an innocent life versus the life of one who lawfully has been convicted of a heinous crime, usually the murder of another person.

Both Scripture and the law give humans the right to kill other humans under certain very limited circumstances.  Those circumstances include the defense of individuals in particular and society in general.  The latter includes the death penalty.  And while we have the ability to commit murder, Scripture and the law also agree we do not have the right to do so.

Of course taking a human life is a horrible thing.  Even those who have done it legally as part of an execution detail or to protect their own lives, the lives of family members, friends or even strangers, say it will haunt them always.  Still, if it is justifiable, it is allowed.  The inconvenience of an unwanted pregnancy, however, does not fit either Biblical or legal criteria.

One question which has dominated the argument over abortion for generations is:  “When does life begin?”  Generally, those who oppose abortion argue it begins at conception while those who consider abortion a woman’s “right” insist it begins at birth.

I believe Scripture gives a clear answer, despite the fact the word “abortion” never appears.  There are many Biblical arguments against abortion, of course, but as you will see, I am approaching the issue from a slightly different direction.

Some years ago, I heard a recording of a lecture given by a theologian to a class of graduate students at a church-related university.  The professor opened his remarks by announcing that by the end of class, he would prove to the students that God does not exist.  Their collective gasp could be heard quite clearly.

As the class progressed, he explained the root word for “exist” used both in the Old and New Testaments refer only to things which are created.  He pointed out, of course, that God was not created.  God is.  Therefore, God does not “exist,” at least not in that context.

My point is this:  if the Bible does not mention abortion, perhaps we can look to the definitions of the root it uses to discover what it says about “life.”

Many of today’s liberal Christians and Jews believe in abortion.  In their theology, the root of the word life usually is translated as “breath.”  It comes in part from the Scriptural reference to God “breathing” life into Adam.  Thus, they generally believe life begins at birth, when a child takes its first breath.

But to most ancient Jews and many of today’s conservative Jews and Christians, life has a very different translation.  To them, it meant and means “blood.”  And that changes the argument dramatically.

If life begins with “blood,” I would suggest the only possible way to answer this question is to say life begins with conception, when the sperm fertilizes the egg.  There is blood in each of them, of course, and new blood is created when they join together.  Those are well-established medical facts.

That being the case, it also could be argued human life has existed since Adam in an unbroken chain.  In other words, life does not begin at conception, it continues with conception, although obviously it has branched out – and continues to branch out – into many different genetic lines.

But let us also take another look at the concept of life beginning with breath.  If God “breathed” life into Adam, and that same unbroken chain of life has existed since that breath – in this case with the mother breathing for her unborn child – you are left with the same conclusion:  life does not begin, it simply continues.  God is; always has existed; created us and breathed life into us; and we, through the means he gave us to propagate the human species, continue.

So I would argue it does not matter whether you translate “life” as blood or breath:  God, not we, created human life, and – for innocent life, at least – did not give us the right to say when it should end.

Harry Beadle is a former news anchor for the CNN Radio Network.  You can read more of his essays at

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