the Fetus, Birth, and the Soul...

jodik_gwOctober 31, 2012

"The reality is that what conservative Christians now say is the Bible's clear teaching on the matter was not a widespread interpretation until the late 20th century."

"In 1968, Christianity Today published a special issue on contraception and abortion, encapsulating the consensus among evangelical thinkers at the time. In the leading article, professor Bruce Waltke, of the famously conservative Dallas Theological Seminary, explained the Bible plainly teaches that life begins at birth:

"God does not regard the fetus as a soul, no matter how far gestation has progressed. The Law plainly exacts: 'If a man kills any human life he will be put to death' (Lev. 24:17). But according to Exodus 21:22-24, the destruction of the fetus is not a capital offense... Clearly, then, in contrast to the mother, the fetus is not reckoned as a soul."

The magazine Christian Life agreed, insisting, "The Bible definitely pinpoints a difference in the value of a fetus and an adult." And the Southern Baptist Convention passed a 1971 resolution affirming abortion should be legal not only to protect the life of the mother, but to protect her emotional health as well."

"...before casting their ballots, such evangelicals would benefit from pausing to look back at their own history. In doing so, they might consider the possibility that they aren't submitting to the dictates of a timeless biblical truth, but instead, to the goals of a well-organized political initiative only a little more than 30 years old."

So... it comes to us that the fundamentalist idea of when life actually begins is not so timeless, after all...

Here is a link that might be useful: When Evangelicals Were Pro-Choice...

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Exodus 21: 22-25
And if men strive together, and hurt a pregnant woman, so that her fruit [children] come out, and yet no harm follows; the one who hit her shall surely be fined, according as the woman’s husband shall impose upon him; and he shall pay a fine as the judges determine. But if any harm follows, then you shall pay life for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth . . .”

"We must observe, though, that some translations have given credence to this erroneous viewpoint by rendering the word "depart" as miscarriage. The Revised Standard Version reads: "When men strive together, and hurt a woman with child, so that there is a miscarriage . . ." (cf. NASB). The liberal commentary, The Interpreter�s Bible (Abingdon, 1952), as well as other commentaries, also accommodate this view.

However, there is absolutely no evidence that a dead fetus is under consideration in this passage. The fact is, the Hebrew language has a term (shachol) that denotes an abortion, or miscarriage (see 2 Kgs. 2:21; Hos. 9:14), yet that word is not employed in this context. This passage deals with a premature birth, not an aborted fetus.

The Hebrew word rendered "depart" is yasa, basically meaning "to go (come) out." Though the word has a wide variety of uses in the Old Testament, it is frequently employed of an ordinary birth."

Here is a link that might be useful: But the hebrew word means........

    Bookmark   October 31, 2012 at 8:45AM
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I'm really not in the mood to get into another pro-life/pro-choice debate here today, but I did want to share something that I observed with the birth of my second child.

My first daughter was born in a hospital. She was born, hubby cut the cord, and she was swished away to be cleaned up. When I got her back, she was a real-life baby wearing a hat and swaddled in a blanket, just like everyone pictures a baby to be.

My second daughter was born just a year and a half ago. We decided with her that we would like to have a home birth (I'm sure we could debate that topic to death as well). I realized with Scarlett's birth, that there really is very little difference between a fetus and a baby. She didn't magically morph into a baby the second she was on the outside, or the second her umbilical cord was cut. I was awe-struck watching her do what babies instictivly do in nature after they are born to fight for their survival. She was just minutes old when she wriggled and squirmed her way up to my breast. When you remove the sterility of the hospital setting and the people in masks telling you what to do, and the cute booties and hats, you realize that the birth of a human is really no different than any other birth that occurs in nature. The mother uses her insticts to birth the baby and the baby uses it's instincts to find the source of food and warmth.

If anyone is interested regarding when a fetus becomes a baby, the Fourth Trimester theory is very facinating.

    Bookmark   October 31, 2012 at 9:39AM
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How lucky you are, Stephf, to have gone through the natural process of giving birth... I was unable, but have 3 wonderful step-children that I wouldn't trade for the world. They were created in my heart, not under it, as I'm fond of saying.

I found the piece in the OP, and was surprised to learn that it's only within the last 30 years or so that such extreme views have been held on the issues we discuss, mainly with consideration to when life becomes actual life, and a soul is thought of as a soul.

Since you're new, I'll mention for your benefit that I was raised in a strict Catholic household, attended church and parochial school, and only became an atheist as an adult... after a lot of inner searching and turmoil. The process to disengage from early indoctrination was not an easy one, but was well worth the effort, from my viewpoint. I see my world and Universe a lot clearer, now.

    Bookmark   October 31, 2012 at 10:47AM
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dublinbay z6 (KS)

Another point about the Old Testament passage cited above about the fetus's premature birth. Note that the HUSBAND gets to decide how much financial recompense HE will get for the damage to HIS PROPERTY (wife and premature newborn). That was back in the days when everything belonged--as PROPERTY--to the man. You damage the fender on his car, you must pay him a fine to make up for his damaged car which isn't worth as much now. Same way, you damage HIS woman and HIS offspring, you must pay a fine to make up for his damaged goods (wife and premature newborn).

I think most of us have moved way beyond that eary patriarchal viewpoint which gave "personhood" with full rights ONLY TO ADULT MALES--don't you?

At least most Christian churches I ever heard about claim that the NEW TESTAMENT (God's love and mercy) supercedes the OLD TESTMENT (God's wrath and judgment).

So why would any so-called Christian seek out the out-of-date non-Christian, patriarchal beliefs that denied women and children (not to mention "potential" children) their rights to "personhood" and formulate their contemporary beliefs based on that?


    Bookmark   October 31, 2012 at 11:25AM
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Well Kate you have made the point that so many fundamentalist like to ignore. The entire of the Old Testament is a small part of the laws that governed the behavior of Jewish people in the past and the only part of "the Bible" that is Christian is the New Testament but for some strange reason that I dont get your basic fundy likes to go back and cherry pick the Old Testament for little nuggets to live by and ignore all the bad bits they dont like. If you live by the Old Testemant you are supposed to get to die by it-all of it, and since according to the Bible no one is without sin then you are doomed. I was brought up on all this stuff and went through a period where I tried to have it make sense for my life but could not. I had trouble with the less than charitable views of the 'believers'.
The fact that humans are animals ought not come as a surprise to anyone but science isnt taught like that usually. Scientists are as bad as anyone when it comes to the fact that we are animals with our set of behaviors just like the rest.

    Bookmark   October 31, 2012 at 2:15PM
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That's one of my contentions, too... the cherry picking.

And yet, while religion remains stagnant, caught in a realm that changes very little, science and scientists are constantly trying disprove new theory, keeping it all moving forward. We continually learn from it... and knowledge is power.

My point was, religious ideas on when life becomes life have made quite a change from the passages talked about by theologians as late as the 1960's and early 1970's. And here we are today trying to retain our choices because of some sudden change in these ideas.

    Bookmark   October 31, 2012 at 3:17PM
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When dealing with a fundie who holds follow the bible literally (including the Old Testament), ask them when was the last time they followed the biblical law to go 100 yards outside the city and dig a hole to evacuate their bowels? Of course technology has changed and today we have in door plumbing (or at least outhouses). Times have changed. Or do you get to pick and choose where times have changed applies and where you have to follow literally.

And before you say, well literally only applies to ther New Testament, then where is the basis for condemnation of gays?

But way beyond that, we put a stop to one religous group getting to demand its religious laws govern people who are not members of their religion in this country. Or else....

...I'm a Pastafarian. My religion commands very different things from Christianity. Why don't the Christians have to conform to my religion, which is true, right, proper etc. whilst theirs is wrong headed. I have as much God (my God) on my side as they do on theirs.

    Bookmark   October 31, 2012 at 3:48PM
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Lady Brat. your source in your link "Christian Courier" is certainly not something that one would/should use to verify info if you are attempting to refute something that is claimed by a Jewish Rabbi IE Rabbi Stern.

Attempting to equate the NASB edition of the old Testament of the Bible with Judaism is absurd. It is nothing more than an undated language version of the Protestant Old Testament and nothing that Judaism would use.

On the other hand it is something that Messianic Jews would use, and they are not recognized as Jews by those that are Jewish.

Oh, yes, your quotes don't line up with the Jewish Edition of the Bible that I own either.

Either way though, basing legal issues, including the rights of a women to control her own body, her reproductive rights, is a legal issue, not a religious one and any attempt to make it a religious issue then crosses the line of separation of church and state, it attempts to force one religious belief on to everyone, which is not something that is permissible under laws in this country and never should be.

Cherry picking, as Jodik stated, is not something to be done when it comes to the legal issues that pertain to women, least of all when it comes to the attempts to do so by involving religion, attempting to distort one person's religious belief to mirror someone else's or shove a religious belief down everyone else's throat.

Enough already with the religious aspects of pro choice vs pro life.

Time to get over this and move on. The supreme court ruled with Roe V. Wade and it should have been a done issue back then.

The fact that the pro choice side wants the rights for all women to make the decision for themselves is exactly what it should be. The do not advocate for forced terminations of pregnancies, or anything even remotely close to that. They advocate for women to have the right to make that choice for themselves and not be denied the rights because others don't agree with it.

Now on the other hand, the pro life side wants all terminations of pregnancies banned, made illegal and they want this simply because they don't believe in the rights of others.

No one wants to force anything on the pro life side, no one wants to or even attempts to force their side to do anything other than shut up and mind their own business and allow al women to have the opportunity to make the decisions for themselves if it is needed.
It does nothing to violate the pro life's opinions, choice or anything else.

The pro life side is the one attempting to violate the rights of the pro choice.

Why it is so hard for the pro life side to understand this is beyond understanding.
But it really is time to get over it and move on. SCOTUS made their decision and that should be the end of it.

Kimka perfectly stated when you said

...I'm a Pastafarian. My religion commands very different things from Christianity. Why don't the Christians have to conform to my religion, which is true, right, proper etc. whilst theirs is wrong headed. I have as much God (my God) on my side as they do on theirs.

This is why we have, what is called separation of church and state in this country. No one religion is above the other, no one religion rules the country, is the religion of this country and therefore the separation of church and state.

Unfortunately, the fundies, the evangelicals, the so called GOP doesn't understand this, even though they try to lay claim to being the ones that want to return this country to the basic principles that it was founded on.

    Bookmark   October 31, 2012 at 3:53PM
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Not all people who are against abortion hold their views based on religion. Some people actually hate the thought of any baby being intentionally killed be it human or animal. Nothing religious about it.

I don't understand why those in favor of abortion think those who want to stop it are trying to hurt the mother or take away her rights. Their focus is not even on the mother, it is on the unborn child. I don't get the dialogue about pro life people wanting to hurt females. That whole war on women is total nonsense.

If I witness a child being brutalized by its' mother out in public you can be darn sure I'll step in to stop the abuse. Would you think I'm taking her rights away by saving that child from her abuse?

    Bookmark   November 1, 2012 at 12:09AM
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"Their focus is not even on the mother, it is on the unborn child. I don't get the dialogue about pro life people wanting to hurt females. That whole war on women is total nonsense."

Ground Control to Major Tom....

    Bookmark   November 1, 2012 at 12:57AM
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I know, I don't get it because I'm a low information person or whatever that stupid name dem's are calling us now. I know I shouldn't get into the abortion conversation because I'll never understand how killing babies is OK and all feelings should be with the mother not the child who is going to die and not have a chance at life. Silly me.

    Bookmark   November 1, 2012 at 1:05AM
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GGM, it's very simple. That is your opinion, you are entitled to your opinion, the pro choice person is entitled to their opinion as well.

The one difference between the 2 is this. The pro life people want to shove their beliefs down everyone else's throat, and force those that disagree with that belief to be ruled by laws that are focused on the beliefs of the pro life belief.

On the other hand, the pro choice want just that, all women to have the right to make the choice, what they decide with their doctors, is the correct decision for them and them alone. They have no desire to force anyone to terminate a pregnancy.
If you don't believe in terminating a pregnancy, that is fine with a pro choice person, just don't do it, Just leave those that do believe in a woman having a right to make that choice alone.

It's that simple GGM. Believe as you wish, just don't force your beliefs on to every other woman, including those that disagree with you.

Those that disagree with you are not doing the same thing in reverse.

You don't have to understand anything more than you have a right to your beliefs, but you don't have a right to force that belief on every other woman in this country.

Tis that simple, whether you like it or not.

    Bookmark   November 1, 2012 at 1:16AM
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Feelings don't come into it. If you want to try to make the subject as emotionally charged as possible, go ahead and call it "killing babies." Call it anything you want to. I am Pro-Whatever You Want To Call It. It is ok, it is not immoral, and it is the law of the land. You persist in repeating your beliefs over and over as though the words themselves could cast some dark spell over the minds of those reading. Are you hoping reason will vanish and they will agree with you?

    Bookmark   November 1, 2012 at 1:24AM
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So GGM - If you were dying from a rare disorder and ONLY a blood transfusion from Justin Bieber could save you, should Justin Bieber be legally required to provide it?

    Bookmark   November 1, 2012 at 12:36PM
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To clarify for ggm, the danger to women is the knowledge that many would get a "back-room" abortion, leading to maternal deaths.

    Bookmark   November 1, 2012 at 12:43PM
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ggm, all pro-choice folks ask for is the ability of the mother to make her own choice. Pro-life folks insist that the choice be taken away from her or made as difficult as possible.

That's it, in black and white. No emotion. Let women who want choices have them.

    Bookmark   November 1, 2012 at 12:50PM
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I can't believe we have to explain this every. single. time.

Being pro-choice doesn't not mean we are pro-abortion. We don't parade around in Baby Killer t-shirts forcing pregnant women into abortion clinics.

Having an abortion is a very traumatic experience, both emotionally and physically. I know that many conservatives out there think that people use it as a form of birth control. As if, instead of buying a box of condoms or going on the pill, a pro-choicer thinks to herself "I'll just get an abortion instead". I'm telling you, that rarely (and I'm only saying "rarely" because I just know that one of the conservatives will claim they know someone who knows someone whose daughter's cousin's friend does this...) happens. Abortion is not a decision that women take lightly, and if they are choosing this option, it's because they have their reasons, which are none of our business.

I have a friend who had an abortion over 10 years ago. It was the right decision for her at the time, and she doesn't regret doing it. She is determined she will never have children. Why? Because after having an abortion, she doesn't feel like she deserves to bring a child into this world. So sad, that after all this time, she feels like she has to punish herself for that decision. Like I said, it's not something that people take lightly.

    Bookmark   November 1, 2012 at 1:19PM
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terrene(5b MA)

What is a Pastafarian? Does it have something to do with pasta? (LOL)

I agree that abortion is generally not a decision that women take lightly, but it is NOT a very traumatic experience for all women. In fact, the predominant emotion I felt was relief. Yes there is sadness and loss, to whatever extent, and some women are emotionally traumatized. But guess what? Being pregnant when you don't want to be can also be traumatizing!

And let's not forget that a child who is brought into the world when he or she is not wanted, not expected, not prepared for, not embraced whole-heartedly, or when the pregnant girl or woman is NOT qualified to care for a child for a myriad of reasons, can also be headed for a life of trauma.

I don't know exactly what point a fetus has a "soul" (whatever that is), but I'm pretty sure it isn't before a certain point of development of the central nervous system, when the brain is mature (brain wave activity) enough to form a "consciousness" (whatever that is, lol).

    Bookmark   November 1, 2012 at 6:10PM
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ingrid_vc(Z10 SoCal)

It's difficult to argue that a fetus has a soul when before the last trimester they cannot feel pain. Until recently, operations on premies were done without the use of anesthesia because it was believed they can't feel pain. That belief is now fortunately being disputed, but the earliest that anyone argues that the fetus can feel pain is 17 weeks, which is well beyond the time that an abortion would be considered.

When GGM says the focus is not on the mother, that sounds really callous. The mother is a thinking, feeling human being who will have to go through a pregnancy (and yes, you can die from that) and then have that child for the rest of her life. Never mind that she may already have four others that she can barely support, or that she never wanted a child in the first place, or that she has breast cancer or any of a hundred other reasons. This person does not matter, but a fetus does. I just don't get it. And what business is it of yours anyway? There are men on death row who are completely innocent. Are you proactive about that too? Babies are dying by the thousands in Africa of starvation. Should the mothers have had those babies only to watch them die a slow and agonizing death? This is such a complicated subject, and to stick your nose in where it has no business to be is not in anyone's interest. If we all lived our own lives, tried to help others who ask for help and did everything to become a better human being spiritually, emotionally and intellectually, that should keep us plenty busy without making moralistic and simplistic judgments about others' lives and how they should live them. That's the height of arrogance and pride.

    Bookmark   November 1, 2012 at 6:33PM
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"It's difficult to argue that a fetus has a soul when before the last trimester they cannot feel pain. Until recently, operations on premies were done without the use of anesthesia because it was believed they can't feel pain. That belief is now fortunately being disputed, but the earliest that anyone argues that the fetus can feel pain is 17 weeks, which is well beyond the time that an abortion would be considered."

Look, I'm pro choice.. but this to me is an awful and ridiculous argument.

Same foolishness used to get played when it came to animals feeling pain. Pain is pain.. just because something, human or animal, can't articulate that they are in pain doesn't mean it doesn't happen.

Did you know that it was a Ped's nurse who was the one who pushed for studies on pain in infants? Just like any dog owner will tell you, that you can tell by the sound of the bark or cry of their dog what it means, so too, for an infant in pain. This nurse KNEW the difference between cries of hunger, and cries of pain...I heard it myself. There was no mistaking it. 'Course, the Dr's. scoffed at this, so she taped the sounds of their cries after circumcision and other procedures routinely done without anesthesia.

To me, the thought that Dr's knew best was the height of arrogance...cause pain.... and the subject will feel it. I don't care that they have moved it back... there is lots they don't yet know. It only makes sense.. cutting will hurt. Any type of trauma will hurt... after all, letting us feel hurt is a built in reflex that protects us.


    Bookmark   November 1, 2012 at 7:52PM
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I know one distinction I can make: if the fetus cannot live outside the woman's body, it is just as much a parasite as any tumor or other growth. I've never had to face making a late term abortion decision, when the fetus possibly could just survive with a huge amount of medical help, so I'm not sure how far I want to extend the point. But I'm sure I have don't have the right to make that decision for anyone else.

But if you go by the fetus having a soul at conception, then you really have to come down on the side of no abortion even in the case of rape and incest. And no birth control like IUD or morning after pill because they work after fertilization. And who counts more in the case of threat to the mother's life? But if you agree that there are cases where abortion should be allowed, then it is no longer a moral imperative. It is like free speech, once you start drawing a line on speech, then you don't have free speech. You just have varying degrees of control. Free speech only exits where hateful speech gets the same protection; Nazis marching in Skokie as much as reciting the Declaration of Independence. (The proper response to the Nazis marching is to point at the clowns and laugh loudly.)

So if you think abortions are bad, don't have one. But stop trying to enforce your moral decisions on me and others.

terrene, Pastfarians believe the great God Flying Spaghetti Monster created the universe. By design, the only dogma allowed in the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster is the rejection of dogma. We are not anti-religion, we are anti- crazy nonsense done in the name of religion. There is a big difference. Our ideal is to scrutinize ideas and actions but ignore general labels.

Some Pastafarians honestly believe in the FSM, and some see it as satire. I would just make the point that satire is an honest, legitimate basis for religion. Satire relies on truth to be effective. If it's a joke, it's a joke where to understand the punchline you must be conscious of underlying truth.

For more information, see our core website.

Here is a link that might be useful: The Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster

    Bookmark   November 1, 2012 at 9:31PM
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ingrid_vc(Z10 SoCal)

ENMc, either I didn't make myself clear or you didn't read what I said carefully. I'm not talking about infants; of course they feel pain just as any animal can feel pain. I'm talking about the fact that studies done by a doctor, an anesthesiologist, convinced him that premies feel pain, even though surgeons were performing operations on them without anesthesia. He was instrumental in changing this practice. However, before 17 weeks in the uterus, the fetus does not have a developed nervous system and the receptors in the brain that feel pain have not yet developed. What about this do you find awful and ridiculous? The 17 weeks is erring on the side of caution. The pain centers according to other studies are not developed until the beginning of the third trimester.

    Bookmark   November 1, 2012 at 10:51PM
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