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Abortion is Not Murder Essay

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Abortion is Not Murder

Is abortion murder? Murder is defined as "illegal killing with malice aforethought." Abortion fails this definition for two reasons. First, abortion is not illegal, and second, there is no evidence to suggest that expecting mothers feel malice towards their own flesh and blood.

Not all killing is murder, of course. Murder is actually a small subset of all killing, which includes accidental homicide, killing in self-defense, suicide, euthanasia, etc. When pro-life activists call abortion "murder," they are suggesting that abortion fits the definition of murder, namely, "illegal killing with malice aforethought." However, abortion fails this definition for two reasons. First, abortion is not illegal, and
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Let's assume, for argument's sake, that the Bible is indeed the law of God. Unfortunately, this doesn't help the pro-life movement, because there is no Biblical law against abortion. (Abortion is as old as childbirth.) The Hebrew word for "kill" in the commandment "Thou shalt not kill" is rasach, which is more accurately interpreted as "murder," or illegal killing judged harmful by the community. It is itself a relative, legalistic term!

Many forms of killing were considered legal in ancient Israel, and levitical law listed many of the exceptions. Generally, levitical law permitted killing in times of war, the commission of justice and in self-defense. Sometimes, God even gave Israel permission to kill infant children. In I Samuel 15:3, God ordered Saul to massacre the Amalekites: "Do not spare them; put to death men and women, children and infants..."

Unfortunately, the levitical law we find in the Bible today is incomplete, and comes to us in large gaps. That is because the ancient Jews passed down their laws orally, and only wrote down the more complicated laws to jog their memory. As a result, levitical law is filled with tremendous omissions; for example, we know little of their laws on libel, business, lending, alimony, lease, rental agreements and civil rights. But perhaps the most unfortunate gap in ancient Jewish law is abortion. If a law did exist on abortion, then we simply do not know what it was. Fortunately, we have an
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