Fetal Tissue? Or Human Baby?
Is the Unborn Baby a Human Child or Just a "Prehuman" Fetus?
- [2022 edit: Breaking News, June 24, 2022] Today the U.S. Supreme Court overruled the 1973 Roe v. Wade Supreme Court ruling that had declared abortion to be a constitutional right. You may read details here at "Pro-Life Is the ONLY Choice | See 12 Compelling Reasons Why".
Summary: Is the unborn child merely a mass of "fetal tissue," the "products of conception"? Or is he or she a fully human baby even while in the womb? Let's look at the Scriptures. Interestingly, the words fetus or fetal are absent from the Bible. They do not occur even one time in either the centuries-old, venerable King James Version or in today's #1 most popular version, the NIV. Come and see that God declares it's 'baby,' not 'fetus' in the Bible!
"Just four weeks after conception ... your baby's heart is pumping blood." This quote was not taken from a prolife website. It was from the world-renowned Mayo Clinic's website, in an article I found in 2012, entitled "Pregnancy Week by Week," written by the Mayo Clinic staff. I was both surprised and pleased to notice that not once in that 2012 article did these eminent medical professionals use dehumanizing terms like "fetal tissue" or "products of conception" or even the word fetus — non-emotional terms which are often used by pro-abortion advocates. But the Mayo Clinic writers of that article consistently used the term "baby" in describing the development of the unborn child.
In the area of medical science, I of course defer to the medical professionals. My area of training and experience is in the Scriptures. And I am happy to report that the Bible likewise refers to the unborn by the terms "baby," "babies," or "children." Come and see.
Genesis 25:22 The babies jostled each other within her...
KJV And the children struggled together within her...
- •• The word for “babies/children” within pregnant Rebekah’s womb is the same Hebrew word used in 1 Kings 3:26 for the living "baby" ["the living child" - KJV] that was brought before King Solomon.
•• The Hebrew Scriptures of the Bible did not make a distinction in the humanity of unborn children and that of born children. They used the same word.
•• The Bible, both Old and New Testaments, never once uses the term “fetus” for the unborn child. It uses the word “baby” or “child.” In discussions of biblical topics, I believe it is very important to use the biblical terminology. Let's see some more examples.
Luke 1:41, 44 When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the baby leaped in her womb...  "As soon as the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the baby in my womb leaped for joy."
- •• Elizabeth’s unborn “baby” we later know as John the Baptist. The Greek word for that “baby” in the womb is the same Greek word used for already-born babies, such as:
- • Jesus, the “babe wrapped in swaddling clothes” (Luke 2:12, KJV) and “the baby, who was lying in the manger” (vs. 16, NIV).
• ...and the “babies” (NIV) or ”infants” (KJV) that they brought to Jesus for him to touch and bless (Luke 18:15).
- •• As did the Old Testament Hebrew, the New Testament Greek uses the same word to describe both unborn babies in the womb and already-born babies.
- •• An important linguistic note: Our English word fetus comes from the identically-spelled Latin word fetus. It was a common word in the Latin language of the first century and had meanings like "offspring" and "bringing forth." In the verses we are looking at (Luke 1:41, 44), the Latin Vulgate translation does not use the phrase fetus in utero, but rather infans in utero. The Bible used the Latin word infans, which means "baby," for the unborn child in the womb. The yet-to-be-born John the Baptist was called, not a "fetus," but a "baby in the womb" of his mother.
Luke 1:44 As soon as the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the baby in my womb leaped for joy.
- •• Human emotion (“joy”) was attributed to the preborn baby in Elizabeth’s womb. And there was even a spiritual connotation, since the baby in the womb leaped for joy at the sound of the voice of Mary, who was at that time pregnant with the Christ child. Upon hearing Mary's voice, the also-pregnant Elizabeth was “filled with the Holy Spirit” (Luke 1:41).
Psalm 51:5 Surely I was sinful at birth, sinful from the time my mother conceived me.
- •• David, Israel’s great Psalmist and King, attributed to himself the uniquely human quality of sinfulness from the time of his conception and thereafter.
Jeremiah 1:5 [God to Jeremiah] “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart; I appointed you as a prophet to the nations.”
- •• Jeremiah was “set apart” and appointed by God a prophet prior to his birth. God bestowed a prophetic call upon a human child still in the womb!
- •• Both the biblical Hebrew of the Old Testament and the Greek of the New Testament use the same words to describe both unborn babies and already-born babies.
•• We have seen examples of unborn babies in the Bible demonstrating the uniquely human traits of emotion (John’s joy), spiritual reaction (John), sinfulness (David), and the prophetic call of God (Jeremiah). All these things occurred while the babies were still in the womb.
•• It is evident that in Scripture the unborn baby was considered as fully human as already-born babies. Dehumanizing terms like "prehuman," "fetal tissue," "products of conception," and more — terms favored by those in the abortion industry — are entirely foreign to the distinctly human terms describing unborn children in the Bible.
•• Therefore, biblically speaking, the deliberate aborting of a baby is more than the "removal of fetal tissue." It is the taking of a human life.
My comments above don’t attempt to address every issue about the abortion topic, but specifically the biblical proof that God considers unborn babies to be fully human. I have written elsewhere — and I invite you now to read — a Scriptural view of the pro-life versus pro-choice debate.
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©2012, 2015, 2018, James H. Feeney.
Pentecostal Sermons and Bible Studies
by Pastor Jim Feeney, Ph.D.