what the Bible says
     At least one verse in the Bible does touch on the idea of abortion. In Exodus 21:22-25, the Law of Moses warns the Israelites of a penalty for reckless behavior which results in a pregnant woman giving birth prematurely.
     It reads like a case law. “If men fight, and hurt a woman with child, so that she gives birth prematurely, yet no harm follows, he shall surely be punished accordingly as the woman’s husband imposes on him; and he shall pay as the judges determine. But if harm follows, then you shall give life for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot, . . .”
     Some commentators claim that the premature birth refers to miscarriage, thus claiming that the penalty for abortion would merely be a fine and that further injury refers only to the woman. Some translations actually say “miscarriage.” I’ve heard it said, “The penalty for the loss of the fetus was a fine while the penalty for killing the woman was death.” This would still teach against abortion, so it does not help the pro-choice view, but it would indicate that abortion is something less terrible than murder.
     However, the premature birth here does not refer to miscarriage. The Hebrew word yeled means “children,” and that word is joined with the verb yasa, “to come out.” It literally says that her children come out. This terminology is never used in the Bible in reference to miscarriage. James R. White says, “In more than 1,075 uses of this word in the Hebrew Bible, it is never translated ‘miscarriage.’ This is clearly a live, but premature, birth.” This means that the further injury would refer to both mother and child. If the child dies, the man who hit the woman could face the death penalty. I imagine Israelites were less likely to get into reckless behavior around pregnant women.