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Skip Navigation LinksJRI > Archive > October-December 2005, Volume 6, Issue 4 > Abortion in Christianity



Volume 6, Issue 4, Number 24 / October-December
(pages 343-348)


Abortion in Christianity




 Corresponding Author
1- Department of Religious Descended from Abraham, Center for Religious Studies and Research, Qom, Iran
2- Department of Criminal Law and Criminology, Faculty of Law, Shahid Beheshti University, Qom, Iran


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Abstract
There is no clear mention of abortion in the moral teachings of the New Testament. Yet, from the very early times of Christianity, Christian sects and scholars have paid attention to this problem. The Roman Catholic Church believes that the fetus is a full human being, with a right to live, from the moment of conception; therefore this church has condemned all direct acts of abortion. Dida-che, a late first-century or early second-century manual of Christianity teachings, decrees that: “You shall not kill the embryo by abortion and shall not cause the newborn to perish.” In another Christian document, abortion is regarded as an abominable crime. Although some Christian scho-lars put forward the idea that abortion would be possible if the fetus has not developed a soul. The Roman Catholic Church in the nineteenth century rejected this idea formally, and decreed that abortion of any fetus is prohibited, and the person who performs it is condemnable to the canoni-cal penalty of excommunication. One of the most important challenges to this idea of Catholic Church is that a pregnancy may put the mother’s life at risk of death. According to this teaching, even in such cases, abortion is not allowed. Catholics in response to this problem have suggested the rule of "double effect", to save the life of the mother. For example, if a pregnant woman has uterine cancer or pregnancy in the fallopian tube, physicians may undertake procedures to save her life. In terms of the rule of double effect, the pregnant woman and her physician don’t intend the fetus’ death, and removing the cancerous uterus is a legitimate medical treatment for uterine cancer, even though it will result in her fetus’ death. By contrast, many Protestants, Orthodox and other theologians, especially in recent times, view the fetus as a potential human being, which lays significant claims to the pregnant woman and others. Yet, abortion can sometimes be justified (e.g., when the life of the mother is at risk). Some feminist theologians, that give another inter-pretation of the relation between the pregnant woman and her fetus, allow abortion if the pregnan-cy endangers the mother’s life.

Keywords: Abortion, Christianity, Didache, Roman catholic church, Protestants, New testament, Feminist theologians, Double effect


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References
  1. انجيل متي، 22:5-21؛ همة ارجاعات به کتاب مقدس از نسخة زير است: كتاب مقدس. به همت انجمن پخش كتب مقدسه، 1985 (افست از روى نسخه 1904).
  2. رک: سفر خروج، 22: 21-25.
  3. James F. Childress, "Christian Ethics, Medicine And Genetics" In:Robin Gill (Ed.), The Cambridge Compa-nian to Christian Ethics, Combridge University Press, 1st Ed.2001;p:263.
  4. Ibid; Catechism Of The Catholic Church, Veritas. 1st Ed., publietion.1994;p:489.
  5. کتاب ارميا، 5:1.کتاب ارميا، 5:1.
  6. مزامير، 139: 13-15.
  7. Ibid; Catechism Of The Catholic Church, Veritas. 1st Ed. ,publietion.1994;p:489.
  8. Richard B. Hays, The Moral Vision of the New Testa-ment, T&T Clarch Edinburg.2001;p:453.
  9. Didache 2:2; Epistle Of Barabas 19:5; Cf. Ibid; Cate-chism,…, p:489.
  10. Gaudium Et Spes, 51 & 3; Cf.Catechism... p:489.
  11. E. Clinton Gardner, "Abortion", Dictionany of Ecume- nical Movment, WCC Publication.1991;p:1.
  12. Lisa Sowle Cahill, "Abortion", Paul Barry Clarke And Andrew Linqey (Ed.), Dictionany of Ethics, Theology And Society, Reutledge.1997;p:1.
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  14. Humanae Vitae , 1968; Cf. Ibid.
  15. Cf. E. Clinton Gardner, Op. Cit.; Lisa Sowle Cahill, Op.Cit.
  16. James H. Provost, Excommunication. In:Mircea Eliade (Ed.), The Encyclopedia of Religion, V.5,pp:218-219.
  17. Catechism,..., p:489.
  18. "Congregation for The Doctrine of The Faith", Donum Vitae III; Cf. Catechism... p:490.
  19. Ibid, 1,2;Cf. Catechism Of The Catholic Church, Veri-tas. 1st Ed. ,publietion.1994;p:490.
  20. James F. Childress, Op. Cit., pp: 263-264.
  21. Cf. Ibid; Catechism Of The Catholic Church, Veritas. 1st Ed. ,publietion.1994;p:264.
  22. E. Clinton Gardner, Op. Cit., P.2.
  23. Ibid; Catechism Of The Catholic Church, Veritas. 1st Ed., publietion.1994;p:2.
  24. James F. Childress, Op. Cit., p:264.
  25. Ibid; Catechism Of The Catholic Church, Veritas. 1st Ed. ,publietion.1994;p:264.
  26. Ibid; Catechism Of The Catholic Church, Veritas. 1st Ed. ,publietion.1994;pp:264-5.



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