Talk:Religion and abortion

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  1. Archive 1 (April 2003 - April 2007)
  2. Archive 2 (May 2007 - April 2009)


Could someone please archive this page, and close the sections now known to be authorered by a disruptive sockpuppet? Thanks to everyone with a level head, and especially our third opinion, Binksternet.--Tznkai (talk) 15:07, 29 April 2009 (UTC)

Done. Cheers! Binksternet (talk) 15:45, 29 April 2009 (UTC)

'Mother' vs 'pregnant woman'[edit]

I noticed that a lot of our sources use the word 'mother' when talking about a pregnant woman in relation to the subject of abortion, especially the religious sources. I think we need to stay true to the source when quoting it, and not switch terminology. If the source says 'pregnant woman' or 'woman', then use that terminology. If the source says 'mother', use that. This should save us the trouble of trying to decide what is politically correct, as a recently-banned editor was saying. Binksternet (talk) 18:11, 29 April 2009 (UTC)

That should work. In general, if it's a first-time pregnancy, the expression you typically hear is "She is / I am going to be a mother." Baseball Bugs What's up, Doc? carrots 18:57, 29 April 2009 (UTC)
Sure, we ought to track the sources, and we shouldn't pick out the sources that like the terminology we prefer. One typically hears stuff like "Abortion is sometimes needed to save the life of the mother."Ferrylodge (talk) 19:04, 29 April 2009 (UTC)
Yep, that's true. So go with what the source says, and we're covered. Baseball Bugs What's up, Doc? carrots 19:19, 29 April 2009 (UTC)
Here's another wrinkle: What if she's 13. Is that a "woman"? Baseball Bugs What's up, Doc? carrots 19:19, 29 April 2009 (UTC)
Sounds like a fair compromise to me. About that 13 year old - God only knows. - Schrandit (talk) 19:28, 29 April 2009 (UTC)
The term 'woman' has sometimes been used to include minor females who are showing womanly traits. Being pregnant qualifies. Binksternet (talk) 19:33, 29 April 2009 (UTC)

<-- What if the source uses "unborn baby", "murder" etc.? It isn't as simple as just deferring to what the source uses. |→ Spaully 11:57, 30 April 2009 (GMT)

If, for example, a source referring to an abortion in the USA is calling it "murder", then it's probably not qualified as a source here other than being cited as a given church's opinion on the matter. "Murder" is a legal term, and if an abortion was performed legally, then by definition it is NOT "murder", even if anti-abortionists think it is. Baseball Bugs What's up, Doc? carrots 13:24, 30 April 2009 (UTC)

It's interesting to look through all of the abortion related articles for which terms they use. The more scientifically oriented ones only use mother when describing a woman with a child. Any religious sections tend to use 'mother' more liberally. I don't know if this mainly reflects the type of editors for each article or the predominant use in the different fields. 'Mother' is generally used fairly sparingly throughout the articles, again this probably reflects the type of editor as opposed to a conscious consensus. |→ Spaully 12:10, 30 April 2009 (GMT)

I think 'mother' should only be used in specific circumstances. Having looked through all of WPs abortion related articles they read well and the meaning is clear where 'woman' is used, or if necessary at the start of a paragraph 'pregnant woman'. Obviously when quoting sections of sources whatever they use should stand. On definitions:
The most common definition of mother: A female parent; especially, one of the human race; a woman who has borne a child.
Collection of dictionary links to mother, and parent. Of these I did not find one that would suggest being pregnant makes a woman a mother.
Now clearly mother is used in other circumstances, in conversation one might refer to a pregnant woman as a mother, but only where you are sure she is planning to become one (or I hope so if you have any tact!). I will look through the article, and sources if possible, and think on it a bit more. |→ Spaully 12:34, 30 April 2009 (GMT)
I'm an editor who usually works on military history articles where very strict standards are applied to articles. I don't suggest using 'mother' in place of 'woman' because I'm friendly to religion, and I don't suggest it lightly. I think the article should, consciously, choose to reflect the sources. For instance, the source I just added which reverted your change of 'mother' to 'woman' under the Muslim section, is a book about Islamic thought regarding death. Editorial discussion in that book refers to 'pregnant woman', but phrases such as "life of the mother" and "health of the mother" appear when Islamic ideas are discussed. You'll see "The mother cannot be sacrificed for the child" and "the mother is the origin of the fetus" if you click on that link. I think it quite appropriate that wiki articles reflect in tone and style their sources. Binksternet (talk) 14:58, 30 April 2009 (UTC)
Thinking about it, the authors of many of these sources will themselves be from cultures where the default is to bear the child unless the woman is in grave danger; this will lead them to use terminology that to others may seem biased. It is fine to use sources as the basis for the decision, but to always bear in mind that wikipedia articles have to retain a neutral point of view whereas many of the sources do not. I will look for a discussion on this point, as a source that suggests the neutral ground for wording such things would be ideal, though it probably doesn't exist. |→ Spaully 15:17, 30 April 2009 (GMT)
One thing to consider is the overall usage within the article. If it sometimes says "mother" and sometimes says "pregnant woman", generally in reference to the way a source says it, that would tend to defuse the bias allegation that Spotfixer/TIIP was harping on. If it's all of one or the other, deliberately, it tends to look "politically correct" (toward one side or the other) and tends to evoke neutrality complaints. Baseball Bugs What's up, Doc? carrots 15:21, 30 April 2009 (UTC)
Just so y'all are aware, similar issues have come up a lot over the years. For example, there's the conception vs. fertilization controversy, and the womb vs. uterus controversy.Ferrylodge (talk) 15:49, 30 April 2009 (UTC)
Now you know why I don't edit these articles. "womb" vs. "uterus"? Where I come from, they're the same thing, just a colloquial term vs. a medical term. Good grief. Baseball Bugs What's up, Doc? carrots 15:57, 30 April 2009 (UTC)
Yeah, it's pretty silly for anyone to try to have an article only use one or the other of those terms. But there does get to be a legitimate concern about terms like "unborn", and even more of a concern about terms like "baby" (I haven't taken any position on those two yet).Ferrylodge (talk) 16:03, 30 April 2009 (UTC)
I think the core problem is that in casual conversation with a pregant woman / mother-to-be, these terms are used interchangeably with no issues. It's on the "abortion on demand" issue that the two sides have tried to co-opt particular terms for their versions of what I call left-wing and right-wing "political correctness". These pages are basically a mine field. Baseball Bugs What's up, Doc? carrots 16:07, 30 April 2009 (UTC)
Yep, often I wonder why I discuss these articles, but I keep on coming back. Some kind of masochism it seems... Well surmised by the way. |→ Spaully 23:01, 30 April 2009 (GMT)

(outdent)Hey, just wanted to point out that "life of the mother" isn't just a colloquialism, it is used in medicine and has been encoded in law. Frankly, I prefer the term "mother" unless the term "pregnant woman" seems to fit better in the sentence but I'll take what we have now for the sake of compromise, and of course, all this is up for discussion. - Schrandit (talk) 03:49, 1 May 2009 (UTC)

This is pretty simple, really. If I get pregnant, I become a pregnant woman. If nine months pass and I have a live birth, I become a mother. If I have an abortion or the pregnancy otherwise ends before then, I do not become a mother. Of course, if I had already been a mother to begin with, I would remain one.
Yes, sometimes people call pregnant women "mothers", but this isn't accurate or neutral. I've been very careful to leave this usage alone when it's in a direct quote, but otherwise, I've fixed it wherever I've seen it. (talk) 00:29, 16 October 2009 (UTC)
Accurate? It is quite accurate to call a pregnant woman a mother if you are a religious scholar. Read some scholarly religious works and you'll see. Binksternet (talk) 00:53, 16 October 2009 (UTC)
As I said, when literally quoting a religious tract, I've left the word "mother" in place. However, it's not neutral and its accuracy is clearly controversial. Nobody disputes that a woman who is pregnant is a pregnant woman, so this term is perfectly safe to use. On the other hand, medical practice is to avoid using it except where the woman has had a live birth. Here's one citation: (talk) 01:05, 16 October 2009 (UTC)
And here's the full article, in case you don't have access as a student: (talk) 01:09, 16 October 2009 (UTC)
To make this more fair, I'm not going to expect you to read the whole thing just to understand my point. Instead, I'll quote a relevant sample:
"The terms 'fetus' and 'pregnant woman' are grammatically more correct than 'baby' and 'mother'. The latter names are used by some (including antiabortionists) euphemistically with a more sinister motivation — namely, to blur reality. Antiabortionists also use 'baby' and 'mother' as 'linguistic fig leaves' to suggest that abortion is wrong: while the motivation of doctors using these terms is likely to differ from antiabortionists, it may be misinterpreted by patients."
Please feel free to read the whole thing so you can be sure that I'm not quoting out of context, but I think this is an overwhelmingly powerful argument both for accuracy and neutrality. If for some reason a local majority disagrees with me, I will gladly take this to the next level. (talk) 01:23, 16 October 2009 (UTC)
Is the article using that reference, the Textbook of perinatal medicine, for information about religious thought relative to abortion? No, we are using secondary sources which discuss religious thought. I think it perfectly appropriate to follow the source material in each case. Binksternet (talk) 01:28, 16 October 2009 (UTC)
I'm sorry, but I think you might be confused about the context. We're discussing this terminology issue here because it's one of the articles affected and it was suggested by User:Kevinkor2, but the dispute has spanned many pages, most of which are about abortion but have nothing to do with religion. Even though this page is about religion, it's also bound by the same basic requirements for neutrality, so this medical textbook is entirely relevant. If this confuses you, we can move this discussion to Talk:Abortion, a more neutral venue. (talk) 01:46, 16 October 2009 (UTC)

Again, many laws and most news reports use the term "life of the mother". This term is by no means bound to religious sources. - Schrandit (talk) 03:20, 16 October 2009 (UTC)

That's great, and when we quote these laws, I'm careful to leave the original text alone. However, Wikipedia is neither a religious text nor a lawbook, and unlike either, it is obligated to be neutral. I have to say that, in the end, your argument just doesn't hold up. (talk) 03:41, 16 October 2009 (UTC)
Right, so we shouldn't use the term the sources use, we shouldn't use the term religious use and we shouldn't use the term the law uses but we should use the term you use? Why? - Schrandit (talk) 03:51, 16 October 2009 (UTC)
Correct. As I already explained, we're held to a higher standard.
If it helps, I'll give you an example from journalism class. When OJ was on trial, the media was obligated to report that a police officer had used a particular racial epitaph. The term was offensive, of course, but it's not like they could have just pretended that he'd said "African-American" or any other neutral phrase. However, they didn't use that word any more than they had to, and then only in the context of what the cop said. And they never ever casually referred to OJ by that term.
In the same way, we are obligated to use "mother" when quoting some priest or politician putting their dishonest little spin on things, but we're not allowed to do as they do, because we're better than them. Aren't we? (talk) 04:26, 16 October 2009 (UTC)
I guess when OJ comes to trial I won't say mean things? These terms has legal meanings, medical meanings, religious meanings, some often deviate from the technical to account for this, Assault weapon springs to mind and I'm sure many other examples can be dragged forward if necessary. Yes, these words can be politically and emotionally charged and you want us to use the ones you favor without any substantive reason to deviate from from law/religion/medicine/reporting. - Schrandit (talk) 04:54, 16 October 2009 (UTC)
I have not been able to come up with any understanding of your response that refutes the need for WP:NPOV. Please stop harming Wikipedia. (talk) 05:52, 16 October 2009 (UTC)
Well then, I'll try to be more clear - this is not an issue of POV. "Life of the mother" is used by the law, by religion, by medicine, by the news and in common use - so we use it. - Schrandit (talk) 05:57, 16 October 2009 (UTC)
It is common for both religious scholars and laypersons to refer to a woman as a mother if she is planning on having a baby or if she has already conceived. This law firm uses the word 'mother' in discussing dead women who might have their eggs fertilized posthumously. The term mother is used very widely before, during and after pregnancy to refer to the woman involved. Binksternet (talk) 15:27, 16 October 2009 (UTC)
Sorry I wasn't able to respond earlier, but there was a minor mix-up that prevented me from doing so.
Briefly, I don't see how repeating a refuted argument changes the consensus. What terms a source uses is only relevant when they are directly quoted. Otherwise, we are obligated to follow WP:NPOV, and the citation I gave above confirms that "mother" is POV when applied to a pregnant woman. I hope you understand why your opinion cannot prevail in this matter, and not take it personally. (talk) 23:11, 14 November 2009 (UTC)
Consensus is reached per article, not per general subject. Sometimes, a wiki-wide consensus can be reached regarding all articles that fall under the purview of a Wikiproject. In a case like this article which is connected to several Wikiprojects, a consensus must happen at the article itself. Let me tally the !votes here and see where we are so far:
Without a formal RfC, just going by this one discussion thread, it looks like the "mothers" have it. Binksternet (talk) 01:41, 15 November 2009 (UTC)


If you want to take this to an RfC, then by all means do so. However, I do wish to remind you that WP:NPOV does not change from article to article, nor is it meaningful to select an article where a particular viewpoint predominates and treat this as a genuine consensus. This is not a vote, but if it were, it would only matter if everyone got to participate.

I will also add that no amount of !VOTES can form a consensus powerful enough to override the pillars of Wikipedia, such as WP:NPOV. I've shown by unrefuted argument and unimpeached WP:RS that calling a woman a "mother" when she becomes pregnant is unacceptable. (talk) 02:57, 15 November 2009 (UTC)

I don't agree. A woman who is carrying a zygote or greater in her uterus is commonly called a mother by herself, her family, her friends and her society. Both religious and lay people all over the world casually use the word "mother" to describe a pregnant woman. What's the evil you see? What's the non-neutral point of view? Where is WP:NPOV trespassed? You are coming at this from a black-white either-or perspective where pro-lifers are pitted in a death grip against pro-choicers. To me, this stance you hold is the non-neutral one! You have found a medico-political source that says the word "mother" has become a tool of pro-lifers who wish to skew opinion their way, and thus it should not be used by anyone who is neutral, and yet people of all stripes continue to say "mother" when they are conversing about pregnancy.
You might be surprised to find that I count myself a pro-choicer who uses the word "mother" to describe a pregnant woman just as casually as the other billions of people on earth who do the same. I don't see why I should let pro-lifers and reactionary medical staff skew or restrict the time-honored and established usage. Binksternet (talk) 05:51, 15 November 2009 (UTC)
Rather than repeat myself, I will point you to the article I mentioned earlier and recommend that you read it. (talk) 06:16, 15 November 2009 (UTC)
That's one person writing a prescriptive text which aims to change word choice among medical personnel. Its mere presence proves my point: people commonly use the word "mother". If they didn't, the author would not have seen fit to write against it. Binksternet (talk) 15:19, 15 November 2009 (UTC)
I'm not sure if you read the same article I did. The point wasn't that you should never use "mother", but that you should recognize that applying it to anyone other than woman who has given birth to children saddles it with connotative baggage. This baggage may well be acceptable in the case of a woman who decides she wants to get pregnant and have children. It's just an innocent truncation of "mother-to-be" to "mother". However, applying it to women with unwanted pregnancies is a different matter entirely, and it's precisely what we're dealing with when talking about abortion.
Fundamentally, your argument is not so much wrong as irrelevant. It doesn't even matter that people "commonly" misuse "mother". People commonly do all sorts of things that are entirely unacceptable on Wikipedia, and this doesn't sway us as all. What matters is whether calling a woman who has an abortion a "mother" is at all reasonable for articles here, and it's simply not. The bias is so obvious that it's even commented on in Pro-life#Term_controversy. To use terms from the pro-life framing of the issue as if they were in some way neutral violates WP:NPOV, and nothing you said has changed this conclusion. (talk) 15:33, 15 November 2009 (UTC)
The small mention of mother at Pro-life#Term_controversy is poorly written and incomplete. Yes, pro-lifers use the term, but everybody does. Your recent addition to that article of the prescriptive word-use instructions for medical personnel still does not have any relevance on this page.
I have two dictionaries on my shelf: one is Webster's New Collegiate from 1979 and the other is Oxford Illustrated from 1985. In both, the word "mother" has many uses, far more than just a woman who has given birth. The first definition in Webster's is simple: "a female parent." We turn to "parent" to find that it means "one who begets or brings forth offspring." "Beget"? Now we have the word "mother" meaning "a female who begets or brings forth offspring." To me, that opens up the possibilities. As well, "mother" can be defined in more general terms as the "source, origin." Clearly, the word "mother" can include a woman who has provided ova for fertilization. The word is not limited to its primary meaning of a woman who has given birth to a child. Binksternet (talk) 16:08, 15 November 2009 (UTC)
Even if it were true -- and it's not -- just because "everybody does it" doesn't mean that we get to break WP:NPOV by doing it, too. What people actually do is use the word "mother" only when they know that the woman intends to carry the pregnancy to term and therefore become a mother. Aside from thoughtless people, the exceptions are pro-life advocates, who use it in a dishonest way (just as the Term Controversy paragraph explained) to exert pressure.
Careful and honest speakers recognize that intentions don't guarantee results, so they speak of "prospective mothers" and "mothers to be", knowing that pregnancies can end all by themselves. When talking about egg donors, they usually just say "egg donor", and if they use "mother" at all, it's likewise with a qualifier, such as "biological mother".
The bottom line is that, if I become pregnant and decide to get an abortion, I am at no point a mother, and characterizing me as one would be deeply manipulative and offensive; I'd report you for WP:CIVIL in a heartbeat. No matter how finely we analyze this, we find no basis for violating WP:NPOV. If you disagree, then by all means file an RfC or whatever. CarolineWH (talk) 15:49, 16 November 2009 (UTC)

[unindenting]It is odd, but the work that is recommended to us as the reliable source to be followed has one contributor making the case that "mother" should only be used of a woman in relation to a child already born, but half a dozen (or more) contributors to the same volume happily use phrases like "the pregnant mother and her fetus". So is only the one contribution to that volume a reliable source, or can the others also be taken to show standard usage? --Paularblaster (talk) 02:14, 21 November 2009 (UTC)

It's a good thing that, like Wikipedia, medical journals aren't decided by counting heads. For a more in-depth response, please read my reply here. CarolineWH (talk) 04:53, 21 November 2009 (UTC)
Indeed not by counting heads, but by following the style imposed by the editors - who in this instance included an essay about the language to be used when speaking in diagnostic situations to (or in front of) a pregnant woman, but chose not to universalize the recommendations of that essay to the volume they were themselves editing. Since wikipedia is not (or certainly should not) be used in a diagnostic setting, the criteria do not seem to apply, any more than they apply to the chapters of a medical textbook. I quite understand your point, but since the one source you've given for it doesn't bear it out, all it is so far is your personal opinion (which is not quite the same as a neutral point of view). --Paularblaster (talk) 09:50, 21 November 2009 (UTC)
I have to admit that I find it awkward to respond to you simultaneously here and on my talk page, and I'm sure that editors interested in this topic would likewise find it awkward. It would be simplest if we centralized our discussion instead of repeating it. The logical place to discuss terminology on articles regarding abortion is Talk:Abortion, so let's move there.
As for the argument above, it's refuted on my talk page. CarolineWH (talk) 16:53, 21 November 2009 (UTC)
I’m sorry to have confused you by using more than one line at a time. On your talkpage you surmise (with a very neat praeteritio) that my views about this linguistic issue are inspired by “a religious commitment to oppose abortion”, which does seem to indicate that addressing you in two locations has made it hard for you to focus on the issue actually being discussed. I apologise. To keep it simple, shall we just continue here? What you in effect seem to be saying is that in a textbook which prodigally uses such phrases as “rights of the mother”, “health of the mother”, “mother and fetus”, all the contributors are wrong to do so, because they are not following the advice of another contributor who says that talk of “mothers” should be avoided in diagnostic contexts. But they are not writing in a diagnostic context, and nor are we. You are ready to dismiss all these experts (nota bene, contributors to the textbook that you yourself cite) as careless and dishonest in their use of language, and to say that "we" are better than "them", but this is not the sort of attitude to sources that seems to me to lie at the heart of our project.--Paularblaster (talk) 18:12, 21 November 2009 (UTC)
It's less of a praeteritio, and more of a "hey, I didn't bring it up in the first place but you were unwise to do so yourself". As for the rest, I believe I address it on Talk:Abortion, where I've consolidated this discussion. Please go there. CarolineWH (talk) 18:19, 21 November 2009 (UTC)
Your herring is a very pretty red, but all I've brought up is the linguistic usage of the source you introduced to the discussion, taking your advice to read it in full and in context. Why this sudden shyness when your source is treated with the thoroughness that you surely think it deserves? --Paularblaster (talk) 18:31, 21 November 2009 (UTC)
Your continued input is valued, but would be appreciated in Talk:Abortion, not here. Please join me there. CarolineWH (talk) 18:34, 21 November 2009 (UTC)
Why thank you, it's simply charming of you to say so. As a matter of fact, I'd already contributed to the discussion there, and I very much look forward to continuing this conversation in a reasoned and relevant manner. --Paularblaster (talk) 18:43, 21 November 2009 (UTC)

[unindenting] Contributors may have noticed some conflicting edits in abortion-related articles regarding what to call women who get pregnant. There's an open discussion here that could probably benefit from more eyes. --Paularblaster (talk) 22:52, 21 November 2009 (UTC)

...most religions generally opposing...[edit]

The opening paragraph contains the statement "The variety in opinion on the issue is reflected with most religions generally opposing abortion under most circumstances" but I don't see the same statement, or a paraphrasing of it, in the reference by The Pew Forum:

Of course I can read the linked article and conclude for myself the same thing as is written in the lede, but having the reference support this sentence without the reference making any such kind of generalization is what we call synthesis. Take a look at WP:SYNTH for more information about policy. Binksternet (talk) 03:12, 30 April 2009 (UTC)

You're right, it does look like synthesis. Perhaps the following new ref will support the statement:
Steen, Edwin et al. Human Sex and Sexuality, page 174 (Courier Dover Publications 1988).
Ferrylodge (talk) 03:55, 30 April 2009 (UTC)
Good going! Binksternet (talk) 04:10, 30 April 2009 (UTC)
The citation for this is a book from 1988 written about sexuality, not religion. And it doesn't look like a very scholarly book at all. Definitely not authoritative enough on religion to back up a broad claim like that.Txh190 (talk) 21:53, 13 July 2009 (UTC)
I disagree. I think the work is scholarly enough. But more importantly, it gives warrant to what is evidence throughout the rest of the article. It is a matter of historical fact that most religions have traditionally disapprobated upon abortion.LCP (talk) 16:34, 14 July 2009 (UTC)

Bleh, now we're stuck with a lede which contradicts the article, and creates an unreferenced sense of "variety" synthesis. Better a truthful synthesis than a untruthful contradictory one!--Tallard (talk) 19:18, 27 July 2013 (UTC)

Bowen reference, 2003[edit]

I took out a reference to Bowen, 2003 under the Muslim section. I don't know what book this is! It's not listed anywhere else in the article. I used instead a reference to Brockopp, google books URL and ISBN. Binksternet (talk) 14:42, 30 April 2009 (UTC)

Bible passages used as reference[edit]

I took out Canonlawyer79's drastic change of the Other Christian section, where he or she inserted a long list of Bible passages to illustrate that the Bible, indeed, included information about abortion. I hold that Bible passages which don't mention abortion and don't have anything about when the fetus is considered a human life, aren't worthy to be used as references here. Too much is open to interpretation; too much a matter of faith. I reverted mostly to the version prior, but with some copyediting. Binksternet (talk) 04:24, 5 May 2009 (UTC)

I agree that linking directly to Bible passages is improper and that the interpretation of such passages might vary considerably between Christian sects. However, it might be worth noting that some Christians understand the Bible as speaking against abortion. Some also see Exodus 21:22-25 as potentially allowing abortion. This reference outlines the scriptural case against abortion and contains many of the Bible passages that were referenced previously by Canonlawyer79. Does anyone think it would be worth including a statement like "some Christians interpret the Bible to prohibit abortion."? Twinkie eater91 (talk) 13:23, 5 May 2009 (UTC)
That is absolutely valid. If a sect believes a passage says something related to abortion, using a published version of their statement is perfectly fine. The only thing I didn't like was having the Bible passages having no instance of the concept 'abortion' hang out there uninterpreted. Binksternet (talk) 15:42, 5 May 2009 (UTC)

Indirect abortion[edit]

The article says that the Catholic Church accepts indirect abortion, i.e. in order to save the life of the mother during an ectopic pregnancy. While this is technically accurate, the article should perhaps note that several Catholic leaders have criticized the abusive use of indirect abortion for cases that may not actually be letal to the mother. Church leaders have also denounced the confusion between indirect abortion and therapeutic abortion, since they do not accept the notion that abortions can be therapeutic. See the article indirect abortion for more details. ADM (talk) 22:31, 8 May 2009 (UTC)

Catholicism and abortion[edit]

The Catholic Church doesn't morally accept any abortion for any reason even if the life of the mother is "saved".

Read this:

From: Fundamental Dignity at Every Stage of Life: An Argument Against Abortion Rights Featuring the Rev. J. Daniel Mindling

Featuring: The Rev. J. Daniel Mindling, Professor of Moral Theology, Mount St. Mary's Seminary To explore the case against abortion rights, the Pew Forum turns to the Rev. J. Daniel Mindling, a professor of moral philosophy and academic dean at Mount St. Mary's Seminary in Emmetsburg, Md. In addition to his academic duties, Mindling serves as a consultant to the Secretariat for Pro-Life Activities at the U.S. Catholic Conference of Bishops.

Interviewer: David Masci, Senior Research Fellow, Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life

Let me shift gears on you and ask: Is there ever a case in which terminating a pregnancy is justified? If a woman is going to die without an abortion, is there a valid reason to perform the procedure?

St. Paul is pretty clear: we shouldn't do evil that good would come of it. The dignity of the unborn child is not lost because the mother's life is at risk. The dignity of the unborn child isn't lost because the mother would prefer not to have this child. The dignity of the unborn child isn't something that the mother bestows on the child and that the mother is free to take away at will.

But if a mother dies because she hasn't received an abortion, her fetus may die as well. So some would argue that it would be better to abort the fetus and save the mother's life as opposed to losing both of them.

Let's use the word "murder" just because of its shock value. This person is going to die unless we murder this other person? Would it be okay, then, to murder? Would it be okay for me to murder to save one life or two lives or three? How many lives would it take before it would be okay for me to murder? I think we are not free to change the moral quality of the act and say, "Well, I guess it's not murder then because something good may come of it." Murder is always wrong. --Rcatholic (talk) 22:53, 9 May 2009 (UTC)

Thank you Rcatholic. This is exactly what the present version of the article says. To quote the article "The Roman Catholic Church believes that life begins at conception and, as such, opposes abortion under all circumstances." However, it think is important that information about the Principle of Double Effect be included in the article, so that people unfamiliar with the subject understand it. I don't think the Catholic Church's position on abortion could be more clearly and concisely put than it is now. -Twinkie eater91 (talk) 23:12, 9 May 2009 (UTC)
If your going to talk about "double-effect," you also need to mention that abortion is considered an intrinsic evil. In other words, according to the CC, direct abortion is ALWAYS morally wrong--regardless of intention. Also, isn't it kind of stupid to say that the CC "believes that life begins at conception" since it is a scientific fact that life begins at conception? Better to say, "human life" begins at conception, but even this is misleading. If a an organism has human DNA, what else can it be but a human life? What really needs to be stated is that the CC believes that human personhood begins at conception. LCP (talk) 15:56, 9 June 2009 (UTC)
Your terminology hits the point on the head, LCP, but most people (strangely) do not use it when discussing this matter. Most pro-choicers I've spoken with will openly deny that life begins at conception, even if what they REALLY MEAN is to deny that personhood begins at conception. -BaronGrackle (talk) 16:15, 9 June 2009 (UTC)
I just took out the third paragraph in the Catholic section as its detail was more appropriate to the article Christianity and abortion. I also removed mention of the 5th commandment (the one against murder) because the catechism reference doesn't directly connect the commandment with abortion. Having the two concepts brought together here was in violation of WP:SYNTH. The source says abortion is a grave offense and morally evil; those words are retained in the section here. The third paragraph made the Catholic section too large, especially in light of having a link to the main article. Similarly-sized sections for Hinduism and Islam are the way they are because there is no link to a main article. Binksternet (talk) 17:25, 9 June 2009 (UTC)
Good edits for the most part. Two things. First, I'm not so sure inclusion of the 5th commandment is WP:SYNTH since the section of the Catechism that contains abortion begins with the 5th commandment, implying that everything in that section pertains to the 5th commandment. Second, I think some mention of Catholic Social teaching (the third paragraph deleted) needs to be included since it is unique and an integral part of Catholic Teaching on abortion. Other religions say make statements about the morality of abortion; as far as I know, only Catholicism states directly that the state has a positive role in protecting the unborn. I wouldn't object to a shorter version. Thoughts?LCP (talk) 21:21, 9 June 2009 (UTC)
Ah, I see the 5th commandment section. The whole page is about the 5th.... Regarding the the church's position on the state, perhaps a single sentence can be introduced to the first paragraph stating the uniqueness of their stance. Binksternet (talk) 14:42, 10 June 2009 (UTC)

External Links[edit]

Per WP:EL, I think the big lists of orgs that support or oppose abortion should go. The list is too long, the propensity for attempting to 'balance' the numbers is too strong, many of the organizations are not particularly notable, and they do not add significant neutral material to the article. The BBC link presents a good survey of the topic and is appropriate. Any objections to removing the 'for/against' list entirely? --Clay Collier (talk) 21:18, 17 June 2009 (UTC)

I'm all for deleting the for and against sections in their entirety, though it will be tragic to lose the juxtaposition of "Christians for Life" followed immediately by "Pagans for Life".
... ;^) ... Binksternet (talk) 21:42, 17 June 2009 (UTC)
Yeah, Wikipedia is not a link directory. These links don't discuss the topic of Religion and abortion, so much as they, in a manner, illustrate specific POV aspects. It is clearly a magnet for more similar links, and it already contains non-notable organizations. I'd say remove all links that do not discuss, in an encyclopedic or at least in depth fashion, the topic of religion and abortion (and not just one specific religion and abortion). -Andrew c [talk] 00:44, 18 June 2009 (UTC)

"Human sex and sexuality" book[edit]

This book has one sentence that is not sourced and is not explained, that claims most religions are against abortion. If we are going to make that claim, we need a much better source.--IronAngelAlice (talk) 23:04, 19 August 2009 (UTC)

Mother v. Pregnant Woman, the saga continues[edit]

If you have time, please take a look at this discussion regarding the debate on the talk page for Wikiproject Abortion. - Schrandit (talk) 18:48, 23 November 2009 (UTC)

Not me. I came here answering a request for a Wikipedia:Third opinion, not because the issue of abortion is high on my list of interests. My only connection to the abortion pages on WP is this one with its 3O request and any page in which Susan B. Anthony is wrongly portrayed as holding an abortion-related opinion that could be carried forward with full relevance and applied to the modern world, e.g. Feminists For Life. I don't need to add the abortion wikiproject's pages to my already-too-busy editing schedule. I think that the word "mother" reflects pro-lifer bias and carries emotion-laden propaganda baggage only if it is allowed by other people to be taken away from them and so recast in nuance. I would rather see all sides of the issue continue to use the word in its historically sloppy and imprecise manner. This way, it has many meanings and implications, including that of a female who begets a child (Webster's New Collegiate Dictionary, 1979). Binksternet (talk) 23:44, 27 November 2009 (UTC)
Thank you for sharing your view. While I can't compel you to join us on the project page, it really is the place to go if you want your voice to be heard. CarolineWH (talk) 23:56, 27 November 2009 (UTC)

Word choices and references[edit]

A minor edit war has developed in the last week between IronAngelAlice and two editors, Binksternet and Boromir123. The conflict, as I [Binksternet] see it, is not so deep-rooted that we cannot work it out equably. It appears to be a matter of wording, mainly, with little change of references. Here are the versions, with IronAngelAlice's paragraphs in navy blue, and the former text in green:


The intersection of Christianity and abortion has a long and complex history though there is no mention of abortion in the Christian Bible. At different times, early Christians held different beliefs about abortion, and most contemporary Christian denominations have nuanced positions, thoughts and teachings about abortion. More generally, some Christian denominations can be considered pro-life while others may be considered pro-choice. Additionally, there are sizable minorities in all denominations that disagree with their denomination's stance on abortion.

There is no direct mention in the Christian Bible about abortion. Christian thought on the matter had its beginnings in Judaism, after which both strict and lenient views on abortion were voiced over next two millennia. Many Christian denominations currently have nuanced positions, thoughts and teachings concerning abortion, especially in extenuating circumstances.

The Catholic Church and Orthodox Church oppose abortion in every situation, but permit acts which indirectly result in the death of the fetus in the case where the mother's life is threatened. The Catholic Church regards the moment of conception as the start of life and therefore regards all types of abortion as equivalent to murder. Most Southern Baptists agree with the Catholic Church's teaching about abortion. More generally, some Christian traditions can be considered pro-life while others may be considered pro-choice.


Comments on Christianity section[edit]

  • I like IronAngelAlice's bit about "sizable minorities" that disagree. I am on the fence regarding the need for two paragraphs, the second one providing information about Catholic and Baptist thought. It looks to me like we should either expand this paragraph to include more Protestant views, or trim it back. Binksternet (talk) 00:10, 31 March 2010 (UTC)
    • I also think the revised version relies too heavily on Catholic, Orthodox and Southern Baptist interpretations. While these interpretations are important, they are not the only interpretations.--IronAngelAlice (talk) 21:04, 31 March 2010 (UTC)
I like your sizable minorities edit as well Iron Angel. I do think a sentence mentioning Catholic and Orthodox church views is important. At the same time, mentioning the pro choice position of the Methodist, Lutheran, and other protestant demoninations would be fair.


Hindus hold varying stances on abortion. Some Hindu theologians believe personhood begins at 3 months and develops through to 5 months of gestation, possibly implying permitting abortion up to the third month and considering any abortion past the third month to be destruction of the soul's current incarnate body. Other Hindus have suggested that abortion, especially the abortion pill, is a major step towards women's empowerment. Hindus generally tend to support abortion in cases where the mother's life is at risk or when the fetus has a severe developmental abnormality. Hindu scholars and women's rights advocates have supported bans on Sex-selective Abortions. Some Hindus have argued that contraception such as emergency contraceptives are a major step towards women's empowerment and the prevention of abortions.

Individual Hindus hold varying stances on abortion; however, according to the BBC, traditional Hindu texts and teachings condemn elective abortions. Hindus generally tend to support abortion in cases where the mother's life is at risk or when the fetus has a severe developmental abnormality. Hindu scholars and women's rights advocates have supported bans on Sex-selective Abortions. A minority of Hindu theologians believe personhood begins at 3 months and therefore considering any abortion past the third month to be destruction of the soul's current incarnate body. Some Hindus have argued that contraception such as emergency contraceptives are a major step towards women's empowerment and the prevention of abortions.


Comments on Hindu section[edit]

  • Aside from the grammar and format problems in both versions, the entry from IronAngelAlice has to its advantage the revelation of the abortion pill, though it founders on repetition of empowerment. Both versions have some theologians saying personhood begins at three months, but what about those who believe differently? In contrast to 'some' theologians, the remainder would be the majority. Binksternet (talk) 00:10, 31 March 2010 (UTC)
  • Hindu texts are explicit in their denouncement of abortion but in reality abortion is widespread as a means to ensure male progeny in India. "The Hindu" however is a secular, non religious newspaper that has no religious connotation.


Although there are different opinions among Islamic scholars about when life begins and when abortion is permissible, most agree that the termination of a pregnancy after four months - the point at which, in Islam, a fetus is thought to become a living soul - is not permissible. Many Islamic thinkers contend that in cases prior to four months of gestation, abortion should be permissible only in instances in which the mother's life is in danger or in cases of rape.

Among Muslims, abortion is Haram or forbidden in most cases but is acceptable depending on the circumstances around the pregnancy. In the case where the mother's life is threatened by the pregnancy, Muslim jurists agree that abortion is allowed based on the principle that "the greater evil [the mother's death] should be warded off by the lesser evil [abortion]." In these cases the physician is considered a better judge than the scholar.

Among Muslims, abortion is Haram or forbidden in most cases but is acceptable depending on the circumstances around the pregnancy. In the case where the mother's life is threatened by the pregnancy, Muslim jurists agree that abortion is allowed based on the principle that "the greater evil [the mother's death] should be warded off by the lesser evil [abortion]." In these cases the physician is considered a better judge than the scholar. Additionally, many jurists consider an abortion within the first 120 days of the pregnancy permissible based on a number of reasons.

Although there are different opinions among Islamic scholars about when life begins and when abortion is permissible, most agree that the termination of a pregnancy after four months – the point at which, in Islam, a fetus is thought to become a living soul – is not permissible. Many Islamic thinkers contend that in cases prior to four months of gestation, abortion should be permissible only in instances in which the mother's life is in danger or in cases of rape.


Comments on Islam section[edit]

Poor quality refs, swapped paragraphs with slight word changes. This whole section could use a shot in the arm. Binksternet (talk) 00:10, 31 March 2010 (UTC)

    • Again, I think the version I have been reverting to is more neutral. There is no single (only) belief among Muslims about abortion. To say otherwise is disingenuous. --IronAngelAlice (talk) 21:08, 31 March 2010 (UTC)
Perhaps, but I think most sources state that Islam is anti-abortion. I have no problem with including both sides but notice that most Muslim nations forbid abortion except for life, rape, etc (not saying however that abortions don't occur in such countries!).

Christianity Section[edit]

It is quite clear from the references that not all scholars believe all early Christians believed that abortion is a sin. So to say early Christians "declared" abortion a sin is not in the least bit accurate. I changed the paragraph accordingly, using references of course. It also seems to me that leading the second paragraph with a list all the denominations that are pro-life is a bit much.. Therefore, I changed that paragraph as well, using references. IronAngelAlice (talk) 07:52, 30 September 2011 (UTC)

It is certainly true that not all scholars believe that all early Christians considered abortion a sin. And there is no doubt that not all scholars believe that all early Christians considered that abortion, even early abortion, was not a sin. With regard to denominations, surely a mention of relative weight is decidedly appropriate when discussing Christianity and abortion.
Where previously proponents of one point of view were presented as "finding" and "noting", while proponents of another were presented as merely "claiming", I have made the verbs uniform. Esoglou (talk) 18:49, 2 October 2011 (UTC)


Would Roscelese please explain on what grounds she makes Wikipedia declare that the view expressed in Rachels, James. The Elements of Moral Philosophy. Boston: McGraw-Hill, 2003 is unquestionably the correct one. Esoglou (talk) 20:28, 24 March 2014 (UTC)

If we have a reliable source for a view and no reliable sources for an opposing view, there is no need to hedge simply because a user personally believes something else. –Roscelese (talkcontribs) 20:33, 24 March 2014 (UTC)
In my simplicity, I thought it strange that, after the explicit mention of the existence of a different interpretation of Jeremiah 1:5, Wikipedia should, on the basis of a single source, declare it a fact that the other interpretation is just plain wrong. I myself would prefer the attitude of, say, Gensler, who records the existence of that other interpretation, but neither condemns it out of hand nor, for that matter, endorses it. But perhaps the Wikipedia editorship prefers Roscelese's attitude.
Wikipedia is thus also made to declare that statements such as that of the Churchwide Assembly of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America that Jeremiah 1:5 is not unrelated to abortion (though not ruling out abortion in all circumstances) lack all basis. But, again, perhaps that is what the Wikipedia community wants. Then it's their responsibility. Not mine. Esoglou (talk) 07:20, 25 March 2014 (UTC)