is any form of abortion that makes one liable to persecution inaccordance with the criminal code. We shall deal with this in more detail later.(4)
is the artificial termination of pregnancy in the interest of themother’s life and health. Doctors have not hesitated to terminate pregnancy when there is arisk to maternal life. In the famous Bourne case (1938) it was held that it was not unlawful toterminate a pregnancy of a 15 year old girl pregnant as a result of rape by several soldiers inthat her life, in the sense of the mental well-being of the girl, was at a risk if abortion did nottake place.(5)
is a distinct form from direct abortion which consists in the directdestructing of the fetus for any purpose. Thus both criminal abortions and therapeuticabortions are normally direct abortions.
is medical intervention to preservethe life of the mother or remedy the health of the mother in which the destruction of the fetusis foreseen as an un-intended and not necessarily connected though unavoidable effect of thatintervention.
B. The Christian Tradition on Abortion
In order to understand the Christian tradition on abortion we must see it in the light of its scriptural sources. From the early books of the Bible, particularly Genesis and Exodus, weknow that life is a gift from God. Men were created to live in loving relationship with eachother and with God Himself in a call that He initiated. Being called into existence men areendowed with that mysterious gift which they call life. Such life comes into being by an actwhich shares in the creative power of God Himself.‘
It was you who called my inmost self.and put me together in my mother’s womb;for all these mysteries I thank you;for the wonder of myself, for the wonder of your work
. (Ps. 139:13)
In fact in the Pentateuch, (Torash), the first five books of the bible, there is only onereference to abortion:
If, when men come to blows, they hurt a woman who is pregnant and she suffers a miscarriage, though she does not die of it, the man responsiblemust pay the compensation demanded of him by the woman’s master; he shall hand it over after arbitration. But should she die, you shall give life for life,eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot, burn for burn,wound for wound, stroke for stroke (Ex. 21:22-25).
In fact authors dispute the significance of his passage from the scripture teaching onabortion. Some claim that this passage indicates that life in the womb must be thought of interms of personal being. According to this view the law of retaliation is made to apply incases of injury to a mother or even a child in her womb or both. According to another viewthe law of retaliation here lays down that in the event of the death of the mother, the eye for eye’ formula must be applied. But, if the fetus dies, the culprit must pay the appropriate fine.Followers of this view, and they are many, would claim that in this passage the fetus is not ahuman being.2