So in the wake of yesterday's mess in Texas, and the moral puffery of those claiming to be righteously protecting the rights of the unborn, I thought it might be useful to briefly explore what the Christian Bible actually says about abortion. Which is virtually nothing.

That is, despite the fact that abortion has been a common practice throughout recorded history, and in almost every culture (in some, infanticide was more the accepted norm), the Bible does not directly address the issue at all. Not even the Old Testament, with all its minute proscriptions of Hebrew Law. The closest we come is Exodus 21:22-25, which deals with the punishment should a pregnant woman be injured so as to result in a miscarriage:

Exodus 21:22-25
If men strive, and hurt a woman with child, so that her fruit depart from her, and yet no mischief follow: he shall be surely punished, according as the woman's husband will lay upon him; and he shall pay as the judges determine.

And if any mischief follow, then thou shalt give life for life,

Eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot,

Burning for burning, wound for wound, stripe for stripe.

Within the context of Hebrew law, if a woman is injured, resulting in a miscarriage, but the woman fully recovers, the loss of the unborn child is treated as a property crime. The man responsible pays a reasonable fine. But if the woman dies, it is murder, and the punishment is commensurate: "Life for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth." That latter detail is theologically significant—fetuses don't have teeth—providing a clear scriptural distinction between the mother and the child in this verse.

As for when human life begins, there is only one remotely clear statement on the issue in either testament, Genesis 2:7:

Genesis 2:7
And the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul.

Whether you accept this medically or not, the Bible says that human life begins at first breath. At least with Adam. That's the only time the Bible explicitly speaks to the question.

But that was enough for early rabbinical scholars, who in the Mishnah—a collection of Jewish oral laws and traditions first written down in the early 3rd century, explicitly prescribe a late-term abortion in order to save the life of the mother:

If a woman is in hard travail, one cuts up the offspring in her womb and brings it forth member by member, because her life comes before the life of her fetus. But if the greater part has proceeded forth, one may not set aside one person for the sake of saving another.

Again, under Jewish law and tradition, human life begins at birth.

As for the New Testament, despite the fact that abortion was a routine form of birth control throughout the Roman Empire—during the era of the allegedly historical Christ, during the subsequent centuries in which the scriptures were written, and at the time the canon was fixed near the end of the 4th century—Christian scripture does not address abortion at all. Nada. Zilch. Bupkes. It just never occurred to the authors of the New Testament to bring it up, because why bother?

Jewish law seems clear: Human life begins at birth and there is no explicit scriptural prohibition against abortion. And the New Testament's silence on abortion combined with the oft cited caveat in Matthew 5:17, suggests no obvious departure from Jewish law on the issue within Christian scripture. So the Christianist pro-lifers can thump their Bible all they want, but there is nothing within their divinely inspired book to back it up.