Is Birth Control Abortion?

Is Birth Control Abortion?

Dear Roger

What’s your view on birth control? Do you consider it an abortion?


Dear Agustin,

Thank God for birth control. Depending on the circumstances, I believe that birth control may or not be abortion. How is that for a short answer!

OK, let’s get into a little more detail. Let’s start with birth control. The most relevant Biblical teaching is found in Genesis 1:28 when God gave specific instructions to Adam and Eve regarding their role of dominion over all the earth: “God blessed them and said to them, ‘Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it’” (Genesis 1:28).

Adam and Eve and their descendants have done well. The earth is close to being “full.” The parabolic population curve predicts an out of control, over abundance of people that will be unsustainable in the short-term future. The earth has an over-population problem. I am completely in favor of birth control.

Once upon a time the earth had plenty of room for people. In that context, Psalm 127:3-5 made sense. The more sons and daughters, the more help on the family farm and more security against enemies:

Sons are a heritage from the LORD,

Children a reward from him.

Like arrows in the hands of a warrior

Are sons born in one’s youth.

Blessed is the man

Whose quiver is full of them.

They will not be put to shame

When they contend with their enemies in the gate.

Children worked hard in earlier cultures because they helped the family survive. Today, adolescents in many cultures stand around with little or nothing to do. They have decreasing job opportunities. We have an over population problem.

The organizations that mercifully flood third-world countries with condoms for AIDS protection are doing a significant work to help minimize this problem. You will have to make your own decision about the rightness or wrongness of handing out condoms in your local high school. Most Christians believe that passing out condoms lowers morals and encourages pre-marital sex. However, when children and adolescents do have babies outside of marriage, most all would agree that these circumstances aren’t good either for society or for the baby. Condoms may help prevent many unwanted babies from being born by parents who are often still children themselves.

As far as I can determine, the only recorded case of birth control in the Bible was when Onan refused to follow the Israeli custom of fathering children by his sister-in-law, Tamar, after his brother Er passed away:

And Judah took a wife for Er his firstborn, whose name was Tamar. And Er, Judah’s firstborn, was wicked in the sight of the LORD; and the LORD slew him. And Judah said unto Onan, “Go in unto thy brother’s wife, and marry her, and raise up seed to thy brother.” And Onan knew that the seed should not be his; and it came to pass, when he went in unto his brother’s wife, that he spilled it on the ground, lest that he should give seed to his brother (Genesis 38:6-9).

This, rather primitive type of birth control, is still used today with varying degrees of success.

When a pregnancy is terminated because the child is unwanted, then abortion is obviously being used as a birth control tool. I have no statistics to back up this next statement, but I imagine that, next to the pill and condoms—with close to two million abortions occurring annually—abortion is the third most common method of birth control in the country.

In Biblical times, life was considered to begin when a newborn took his/her first breath. At this moment the spirit (wind) entered the body and life began. This idea proliferated in most all cultures. It just made sense. A still-born child was never alive at all. Death, then, was considered to occur when the final breath was taken. With this sort of understanding, abortion was not considered murder.

But wait a minute, the original Hippocratic Oath, devised in Greece around 400 B.C., forbids a physician from performing or assisting in an abortion: “I will not give a lethal drug to anyone if I am asked, nor will I advise such a plan; and similarly I will not give a woman a pessary to cause an abortion.” A pessary is a mechanical device that, when inserted into the womb, causes enough irritation to unseat the fertilized ovum which is attached to the placenta—thus aborting the child. Of course, some women have the same sort of success with a coat hanger; but unfortunately, they sometimes bleed to death.

Would it surprise you to know that many variations of the Hippocratic Oath have been composed over the years! Many cultures have taken it upon them selves to modernize it—as needed. The most recent versions make no mention of forbidding a physician from performing an abortion! (If you are interested in reading the original Hippocratic Oath, I have included it as an addendum at the conclusion of this Ask Roger answer.)

Of course, no one today can honestly deny that life begins a conception. No one can deny that brain waves occur, and pain is felt, and hormones produce emotions, and thumbs are being sucked in the womb. An unborn child is coursing with life!

I don’t understand how anyone can take part in an abortion and refuse to recognize that they are murdering a child.

Finally, my answer would be woefully inadequate without mentioning the “morning after” pill. The morning after pill works to stop an unwanted pregnancy. The drug is commonly sold as Plan B One-Step®, Next Choice®, or ella® and can be effective up to five days after sex has occurred. When the drug stops ovulation or prohibits a sperm from joining with an egg, then no abortion has occurred’

On the other hand, the pill also works by preventing a fertilized egg from implanting in the placenta. As a result, the newly conceived human being is sloughed off into an environment outside the mother’s body incompatible with continued life. The key word here is “fertilized.” Since conception occurs at fertilization, the morning after pill has the same effect as the coat hanger. Murder transpires.

Agustin, I really appreciate your question. I hope it helps you and many others as well.

Love, Roger

Addendum: The Original “Hippocratic Oath”

I swear by Apollo, the healer, Asclepius, Hygieia, and Panacea, and I take to witness all the gods, all the goddesses, to keep according to my ability and my judgment, the following Oath and agreement:

To consider dear to me, as my parents, him who taught me this art;  to live in common with him and, if necessary, to share my goods with him; To look upon his children as my own brothers, to teach them this art.

I will prescribe regimens for the good of my patients according to my ability and my judgment and never do harm to anyone.

I will not give a lethal drug to any one if I am ask, nor will I advise such a plan; and similarly I will not give a woman a pessary to cause an abortion.

But I will preserve the purity of my life and my arts.

I will not cut for stone, even for patients in whom the disease is manifest; I will leave this operation to be performed by practitioners, specialists in this art.

In every house where I come I will enter only for the good of my patients, keeping myself far from all intentional ill-doing and all seduction and especially from the pleasures of love with women or with men, be they free or slaves.

All that may come to my knowledge in the exercise of my profession or in daily commerce with men, which ought not to be spread abroad, I will keep secret and will never reveal.

If I keep this oath faithfully, may I enjoy my life and practice my art, respected by all men and in all times; but if I swerve from it or violate it, may the reverse be my lot.

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