The Bible’s Viewpoint
Abortion—The Answer to Overpopulation?
WHETHER national policy or individual choice, abortion has been a common means of population control both past and present.
A Canadian newspaper account entitled “China’s agony is 53 million abortions” quotes the Ministry of Public Health in China as reporting that striking figure for the period from 1979 to 1984. This five-year abortion total equals more than double the population of Canada!
Japan estimates that 30 percent of the 2.1 million conceptions yearly in that country are aborted. Some of these unborn children are memorialized by little stone, plastic, or plaster effigies placed in Buddhist temples across the country.
On the other side of the world, in Sweden, abortion on demand has been permitted since 1946 for “medical, socio-medical, humanitarian and eugenic reasons or upon injury to the fetus.” Now, as in other countries, many Swedish women see abortion as a socially acceptable and popular way to limit the size of their families.
Popular Ancient Practice
In ancient Athens, abortion was used to regulate population growth. “The voluntary limitation of the family was the order of the day, whether by contraception, by abortion, or by infanticide,” according to historian Will Durant in The Story of Civilization.
Abortion was also popular in the Roman empire. For what reasons? Durant continues: “Women wished to be sexually rather than maternally beautiful; in general the desire for individual freedom seemed to be running counter to the needs of the race. . . . Of those who married, a majority seemed to have limited their families by abortion, infanticide, coitus interruptus, and contraception.” Is not the increase in abortions in our time for similar reasons?
The Early Christian View
In sharp contrast, early Christians took a firm stand against abortions. Durant adds: “Abortion and infanticide, which were decimating pagan society, were forbidden to Christians as the equivalents of murder.” So while family limitation became an outstanding social phenomenon of both the Greek and the Roman eras, the Christian community stood firmly on a strict moral code that built respect for the sanctity of life. As in ancient Israel, children were a mark of the Creator’s blessing. The psalmist states: “Look! Sons are an inheritance from Jehovah; the fruitage of the belly is a reward.”—Psalm 127:3.
It is evident from God’s Word, the Bible, that Jehovah, “the source of life,” recognizes the right to life of the unborn child. How? First, the Bible shows that he deems the unborn to be more than just a glob of tissue. God’s interest in his marvelous creative arrangement is described by the psalmist this way: “You [Jehovah] kept me screened off in the belly of my mother. . . . Your eyes saw even the embryo of me, and in your book all its parts were down in writing.”—Psalm 36:9; 139:13-16.
Further, God calls to account the individual who accidentally interferes with the natural course of events involving an unborn child. Notice that the Mosaic Law put a heavy responsibility on such ones, stating: “If men strive together, and hurt a woman with child, so that her fruit depart, and yet no harm follow; he shall be surely fined, according as the woman’s husband shall lay upon him; and he shall pay as the judges determine. But if any harm follow, then thou shalt give life for life.”—Exodus 21:22, 23, American Standard Version.
Now if Jehovah views an accidental interference with the unborn child to be a matter of such serious consequence, how much greater accountability would there be with deliberate interference, as in the case of abortion! Also, since God gave no limitations as to the age of the unborn in his law expressed at Exodus chapter 21, arguments based on age become moot.
The Answer to Overpopulation
Still, some may reason that with increased food shortages, lack of adequate housing, and a dwindling supply of fresh water, selective abortion as a means of population control would relieve the pressure on generations to come. Yet, is this the only way to balance world population with earth’s environment?
Some 6,000 years ago, Jehovah God articulated his purpose concerning the population of the planet Earth. Jehovah declared to the first human couple: “Be fruitful and become many and fill the earth and subdue it.” (Genesis 1:28) Note that God’s stated purpose is to fill, not overpopulate, the earth. The Creator will achieve world population equilibrium—maintain reasonable population density, ecological balance, and adequate food production.—Isaiah 65:17-25.
It is reasonable to conclude that the Creator of human reproductive power will himself justly regulate its use to attain this perfect balance. There will be no need for abortions to limit population growth. Jehovah through the Kingdom of his Son, Christ Jesus, will ensure that the earth is comfortably filled with obedient mankind living in a global paradise.—Isaiah 55:8-11; Revelation 21:1-5.
[Blurb on page 27]
“Abortion and infanticide . . . were forbidden to Christians as the equivalents of murder.”—Will Durant, historian
[Picture on page 26]
“By the time a fetus is six months old it can see, hear, experience, taste and even learn.”—Dr. T. Verny, author of the book The Secret Life of the Unborn