| Mainline churches have a hard time trying to unite pro-choice thinking with the teachings of Scripture. Churches have not been perfectly consistent on the issue, but they have always tended to favor life.
The Roman Catholic Church always stood against abortion although the details have changed. Initially, it accepted Aristotle’s teachings on numerous subjects. Aristotle made a distinction between the “formed” and the “unformed” fetus; a male fetus supposedly received a soul 40 days (5.5 weeks) after conception and the female 80 days (11 weeks) after conception. It should go without saying that the Church has dropped Aristotle’s teachings on the subject.
Even Saint Augustine, one of Christianity’s greatest theologians, taught that killing an unformed fetus warranted a fine while killing a formed fetus warranted the same penalty as for murder. The church didn’t always draw the line in the same place, but it always recognized value in that life, value given by God, not determined by us.
A few people use the Bible to allow abortion-on-demand. The Bible, according to these people, teaches that a human life begins at birth. Genesis 2:7 Says, “God formed man of dust from the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being.” Thus, life begins at birth when the baby starts to breathe air.
As interesting as this view is, it’s not worth spending much time on, because even those who teach it do not really believe it. For some reason they want to allow abortion, and this is the best argument they could come up with.
First, it is true that human life began with breath. The story in Genesis says so. Now tell me, whose breathing made life begin? Was it the man’s breathing that we see as the starting point of human life? The Scripture says that Jehovah “breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and man became a living being.” It was not the man breathing air into his lungs that made him alive. God breathed into man the breath of life.
Second, if breathing were the starting point for every human life, that point would still reside in the womb. A human fetus has lungs and breathes with them. The difference with birth is that the child expels liquid and begins to breathe air. Premature newborns sometimes have trouble breathing air, and doctors have sometimes made it easier by having them breathe oxygen-rich liquid.
Furthermore, every living cell uses oxygen, and so human life must have a form of respiration even before lungs develop. A human life needs air, but it does not begin with breathing air. Every cell from the earliest stages of life requires oxygen. There goes the foolish argument about breathing.
There is also a Scripture that speaks of one’s blood as one’s life. That would put the beginning of life at a point before the fifth week of pregnancy in which blood production begins. I haven’t seen anyone bring up this argument, but it’s better than the one about breathing.
One strong argument points to the phenomenon of twinning. During the first two weeks of a zygote’s development, it can split into two and form identical twins. After that period of time, a human life continues to develop as one being, but some would insist that it couldn’t be an individual life during the time that twinning can occur. Did the one zygote have two souls, or did one soul divide into two? I rarely hear this argument, and it might not make a practical difference since a woman would not even know that she is pregnant so early in the process.