If a woman is informed of the abnormal development of the baby, and the doctor suggests having an abortion. What does the Bible say about it? -- Eunice Mah

In cases like this the answer is straightforward. Psalm 139 reads, "I am fearfully and wonderfully made." God has a plan for all his "special needs" children. To abort them is both heartless and contrary to the scriptures and Christian practice.

Further, many children overcome their disabilities, living a meaningful life. Abortion, regardless of government sanction, is a sin. And yet we can imagine circumstances in which in might actually be wrong to carry on with a pregnancy. Sometimes we must choose between principles, as in the case where the mother's life is in grave danger if the pregnancy goes full term. Where doctors say that the mother will die in delivery (if not before), the parents would have to make a very hard choice. To illustrate, if a terrorist said, "I will shoot your wife if you don't instruct me otherwise, in which case I may shoot a stranger," would I really be a loving husband or a good Christian if I said nothing and let the wife of my youth be murdered? (Yes, I know, hard choice--and there is a rationale for the opposite conclusion as well.) Such are the dilemmas of ethics. Nor are they all imaginary or hypothetical. (I have known brothers and sisters who have been forced to make these heart-wrenching choices.)

Finally, please consider some quotations from our early Christian brothers and sisters. While these views were articulated as late as the 2nd and 3rd centuries, they seem to illuminate a traditional biblical understanding of the sanctity of life. Hopefully these patristic words will fortify us against the life-degrading influence of the world.

The reference is to the volume and page number in the standard edition of Ante-Nicene Fathers--Christian writers of the first few centuries of the faith.

The First Council of Nicea took place in 325 AD. These quotations have been edited by David W. Bercot in A Dictionary of Early Christian Beliefs (Peabody, Mass.: Hendrickson, 1998).

* Barnabas (70-130 AD) "You shall not kill a child by obtaining an abortion. Nor, again, shall you destroy him after he is born." - 1.148
* Athenagoras (175 AD) "We say that those women who use drugs to bring on abortion commit murder. And we also say they will have to give account to God for the abortion. So on what basis would we commit murder? For it does not belong to the same person to regard the very fetus in the womb as a created being (and therefore an object of God's care) -- yet, when he has passed into life, to kill him." - 2.147
* Tertullian (c.195-215 AD) "In our case, murder is once for all forbidden. Therefore, we may not destroy even the fetus in the womb while as yet the human being derives blood from other parts of the body for its sustenance. To hinder a birth is merely a speedier way to kill a human. It does not matter whether you take away a life that has been born, or destroy one that is not yet born.'' - 3.25
* Among surgeon's tools there is a certain instrument that is formed with a nicely-adjusted flexible frame for first of all opening the uterus and then keeping it open. It also has a circular blade, by means of which the limbs within the womb are dissected with careful, but unflinching care. Its last appendage is a blunted or covered hook, by which the entire fetus is extracted by a violent delivery. There is also a copper needle or spike, by which the actual dearth is brought about in this treacherous robbery of life. From its infanticide function, they give it the name, "Killer of the infant'' - which infant, of course, had once been alive.'' - 3.206
* "Indeed, the Law of Moses punishes with appropriate penalties the person who causes abortion."