I was having a conversation with a friend debating whether the morning after pill is considered to be abortion or not. I'm interested to see if there is anything in the Bible directly related to this subject.—Maria

Great question! The Bible does indicate the life begins in the womb (the famous Psalm 139, for instance), although the legal penalty for causing an abortion/miscarriage was a fine (see Exodus 21), not the death penalty, as would be the case for a "postnatal" human. Exodus 21 is rarely treated fairly by Bible believers who have already made their minds up. Not that I am "pro-abortion," but there are some differences between a baby already born and one in the womb.

In the ancient world, people exposed unwanted babies on hillsides to die of exposure--a very common practice. But they also gave women various poisons to induce abortions. Abortion has been around thousands of years. The Hippocratic Oath, which doctors are supposed to swear by, explicitly forbids abortions! (Search for the Oath at my website if you want to see what the ancient physician actually said.)

The morning after pill may be equivalent to abortion. However, as fertilized eggs are not implanted for several days—and most do not implant—which is why I say "may be." There is one exception: if it is taken a few days before conception, then it is just a contraceptive. Otherwise, it causes the embryo to die and is technically an abortifacient drug.

Finally, if you want to read the Roman Catholic take on this, there's a not-too-long article you could scan. It is easy to read and fairly convincing. Click here.

Update: One reader writes in: "My father-in-law was an Ob-Gyn, and I thought you might be interested in something he told me. He told me that most people don't realize that we really don't understand how many of the hormone-based contraceptives work. We aren't entirely sure why or how they prevent pregnancy—in fact, some doctors think that they do not prevent fertilization, but rather they prevent implantation of fertilized eggs, the same way that the morning-after pill does. Tricky stuff, all of it..."

This article is copyrighted and is for private use and study only. © 2005. Reprints or public distribution is prohibited without the express consent of Douglas Jacoby.