What does Christianity teach about abortion?

For Christians, human life is sacred and is a gift from God which is to be respected and protected. This teaching is called The Sanctity of Life. The Bible teaches that human beings are created in the image of God. It also teaches that murder is forbidden. Jesus reminded his followers that each person is precious to God, so much so that God has counted every hair on their head.

Jesus also taught the importance of loving your neighbour. In the case of abortion, the fetus could be thought of as the neighbour, and so could the mother.

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Jesus said, 'The second most important commandment is this: Love your neighbour as you love yourself.'Mark 12:31

What does this mean in practice?

Christians understand and apply the guiding principle of the sanctity of life in a variety of ways to the issue of abortion. Within the same church, views may differ. The four main positions are as follows:

  • Pro-life - some Christians, including many Roman Catholics and Orthodox Christians, believe that abortion is morally wrong because of their belief that human life begins at conception. They may make an exception if an abortion is essential in order to save the life of the mother (the 'principle of double effect'), assuming all efforts have been made to save the fetus.
  • Pro-choice - it is up to the woman to decide whether it is right for her to have an abortion because it is her body. Some Christians believe that a woman has a right to a safe abortion, and that it shows compassion if the law allows this.
  • Absolute moral - abortion is wrong in every circumstance.
  • Relative moral - abortion is permitted in certain circumstances.