Disputed meaning of Bible verses

In a letter that ran July 16 in the Tribstar, Steve Kash brazenly purports to know “God’s attitude toward abortion.” To convince us of this, he incorrectly cites a Bible verse, Exodus 21:22, which follows:

“If people are fighting and hit a pregnant woman and she gives birth prematurely but there is no serious injury, the offender must be fined whatever the woman’s husband demands and the court allows. 23: But if there is serious injury, you are to take life for life, 24: eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot, 25: burn for burn, wound for wound, bruise for bruise.”

Mr. Kash then falsely, and again, brazenly, states that, “Exodus 21:22 is the Bible’s most direct reference to abortion and by implication God’s attitude toward it.” Really?

You have read the actual verse above, so you are able to decide for yourself whether Mr. Kash’s statement is true.

Here is Mr. Kash’s “quote” of Exodus 21:22:

“A miscarriage was caused by men fighting who pushed a pregnant woman, resulted in her having a miscarriage. The man who caused the miscarriage got fined for property damages but not murder. If the fetus had been accorded the status of a person, the punishment would have been death.” (Here, you might want to revisit verse 23 above, as well as comparing Kash’s “quote” of the verse to the real verse.)

Mr. Kash’s letter is such a target-rich item that I hardly know where to begin, so I will list the major mistakes(lies?):

1. There was no fight. It is a hypothetical to illustrate how the law might be applied.

2. There was no “miscarriage,” so there was no “murder.” See above: “... she gives birth prematurely, but there is no serious injury ...” Get it? “ She gives birth. That’s not a miscarriage. That’s not an abortion. None of this is in any way “a biblical reference to abortion,” as Mr. Kash says.

3. Kash, in his fictional account, says the guy got off with a fine, proving God does not consider the fetus a person. After all, if it was a person, God would’ve imposed “an eye for an eye,” right?

4. The actual verse imposes a fine “if there is no serious injury.”

5. The actual verse imposes “life for life” if there is serious injury. This gives the lie to Kash’s entire letter, as it does show that God values the life of the unborn equally with the already born.

There are too many misinterpretations (lies?) in Kash’s letter to address here. In short, he wants to convince us that abortion is OK in God’s eyes. Sure, OK.

He also wants us to believe that Exodus 21:22 “was the basis of Jewish law about abortion during the time of Jesus.” What? As we have shown, Exodus 21:22 is not even about abortion. I guess if you say it really convincingly, people will buy it?

He talks about the major religions, and how they are mostly tolerant of abortion in certain cases, such as in 10-year-old rape victims, etc., but I think most of us are indeed in that camp, but that does not mean we favor abortion as he is pushing it. I guess he thinks this bolsters his case.

He then, in a roundabout way, and without directly citing anything, tries to make us believe that “contemporary Jewish analysis” is that a “fetus” is not a “person” until its head has emerged from the mother and has taken its first breath. He says the notion that “a child comes into being at conception” is a recent evolution in people’s thinking. Well, yeah, maybe it is, but we have a lot of science to support that now.

As a young medical resident at a major hospital, I was required to work at the abortion clinic for a month. I had to do histories, physical exams, labs, etc., as well as administering anesthesia and assisting with the procedures themselves, most of which were of the suction curettage variety. This was 1980 or so, and we were taught to be “objective” and “non-judgmental” about everything, and I had not formed any real opinion about abortion, even though we saw lots of tears and remorse among our patients. So I was going along, learning a lot, and becoming quite proficient at a lot of things, when one day, toward the end of the rotation, our suction failed mid-procedure.

What I saw then, forever changed my perception of what we were doing. There, stuck in the clear, 1 1/2 inch tubing, was a perfectly formed little baby, with well-defined features, appendages, etc. He was almost looking at me, but of course he was dead. He was there for a few seconds and then the suction kicked in and he was gone. Into the muck.

I’ll never forget him. He was probably around 12 weeks or so, and was so much more than a “fetus.” And I think God would agree.

— James E. Stephens, M.D., Brazil

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