A close-up shot capturing the delicate fingers of an unborn baby, bathed in soft light, symbolizing the sanctity of life as referenced in biblical teachings.

What Does The Bible Say About Unborn Babies?

The issue of unborn babies is an emotionally charged one. Many people wonder, does the Bible directly address the status of a fetus or an unborn child? As we explore this complex question, we’ll find that Scripture reveals profound truths with important implications.

If you’re short on time, here’s a quick answer: The Bible sees the unborn child as precious and made in God’s image. Several verses describe God’s intricate involvement in conception, fetal development, and humanity beginning in the womb.

The Bible Describes Intricate Fetal Development

God Forms Us in the Womb

The Bible affirms that God is intimately involved in the creation and development of human life in the womb. King David wrote, “For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother’s womb” (Psalm 139:13).

God doesn’t just set human development in motion – He actively shapes and forms us before we are born. The Bible presents the preborn child as fully human, known and cared for by God.

In the New Testament, when the angel Gabriel told Mary she would conceive Jesus as a virgin, he said, “the child to be born will be called holy – the Son of God” (Luke 1:35). Jesus was identified as the Son of God while still in utero.

Several other passages also refer to the preborn John the Baptist recognizing Jesus in the womb when Mary visited Elizabeth (Luke 1:41-44). The preborn are clearly recognized as human persons known by God.

Human Value from Conception

The Bible indicates human life begins at conception. The unborn are treated as persons with value throughout Scripture. The Hebrew word for “child” in Exodus 21:22 refers to both born and unborn babies.

Causing a miscarriage was punishable differently than injuries to the mother, indicating the preborn baby had intrinsic worth.

Several verses mention God’s foreknowledge and calling of persons while they were still in the womb, implying their humanity (Jeremiah 1:5, Isaiah 44:2, Isaiah 49:1, Galatians 1:15). Biblically, personhood originates at conception rather than at a developmental stage later in pregnancy.

Scripture also emphasizes caring for the vulnerable. Jesus said, “Whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me” (Matthew 25:40). If the unborn are human persons bearing God’s image, they deserve protection.

Scripture Commands Protecting the Vulnerable

Laws About Injury and Killing

The Bible contains many laws and principles designed to protect human life, especially the vulnerable. In Exodus 21, God gives laws to protect servants, commanding that anyone who strikes and kills a servant must be punished.

Deuteronomy 19:4-7 establishes “cities of refuge” where someone who unintentionally kills another can flee for protection from revenge. The Mosaic Law also had strict penalties against injuring pregnant women resulting in miscarriage (Exodus 21:22-25).

God clearly values and protects vulnerable human life from conception onward.

In the New Testament, Jesus amplifies these principles by commanding us to love and value “the least of these” (Matthew 25:31-46). Several verses forbid murder and violence against other humans, which would include the unborn (Matthew 5:21, Romans 13:9, 1 Peter 4:15).

Overall, Scripture upholds the value of human life as made in God’s image (Genesis 1:27), a value that begins at conception (Psalm 139:13-16).

Biblical Social Justice

The Bible frequently commands social justice and care for the helpless and needy. For example, Isaiah 1:17 says “Learn to do right; seek justice. Defend the oppressed. Take up the cause of the fatherless; plead the case of the widow.”

Psalm 82:3 likewise says, “Defend the weak and the fatherless; uphold the cause of the poor and the oppressed.”

This biblical priority on protecting the weak and helpless strongly applies to unborn babies. Abortion disproportionately targets minority and lower-income populations, exemplifying injustice. For example, in New York City, more black babies are aborted each year than are born alive (according to the Chattanoogan).

Scripture commands us to plead the cause of the helpless—including those in the womb.

In total, the Bible consistently upholds the value of all human life, no matter how young or vulnerable. God sees both born and unborn babies as precious people made in His image. His principles always prioritize protecting the weak and defenseless.

Therefore, Scripture clearly supports protecting unborn life.

Examples of God Calling the Unborn

John the Baptist in the Womb

The Bible provides a powerful example of God interacting with and calling an unborn baby in the account of John the Baptist. As recorded in Luke 1:39-45, when Mary visited her relative Elizabeth who was pregnant with John the Baptist, the baby leaped in Elizabeth’s womb when Mary greeted her.

This demonstrates John’s recognition of Jesus while still in the womb and also suggests God’s calling and purpose on John’s life even before his birth.

The account goes on to show how John was filled with the Holy Spirit while still in the womb (Luke 1:15). This is a profound indication of personhood and God imparting His divine calling on an unborn child.

Though yet unborn physically, John’s destiny and purpose was already known and revealed by God, which provides a strong biblical argument for the value of life in the womb.

God’s Foreknowledge of Jacob and Esau

Another compelling example is found in Romans 9:11-13 which discusses God’s foreknowledge and calling regarding Jacob and Esau:

Yet, before the twins were born or had done anything good or bad—in order that God’s purpose in election might stand: not by works but by him who calls—she was told, “The older will serve the younger. Just as it is written: “Jacob I loved, but Esau I hated.” (Romans 9:11-13, NIV)

This passage clearly indicates that God had a calling and purpose for these two children even before their birth. Hence, their value and identity was already present in their unborn state according to God’s divine plan.

This again affirms the biblical perspective of personhood and significance being present in the womb.

Theological Implications for Abortion and Life Issues

Human Beings Made in God’s Image

The Bible teaches that human beings are uniquely created in the image and likeness of God (Genesis 1:26-27). This sets humanity apart from the rest of creation and gives human life inherent value and dignity.

As image bearers of God, all human beings have worth regardless of age, appearance, ability or stage of development. This biblical truth presents a significant challenge to views that do not see the unborn as fully human or deserving of protection.

Many verses speak of God forming, weaving and knowing humans in the womb (Psalm 139:13-16; Jeremiah 1:5). These imply that personhood begins long before birth. From conception, an unborn baby has a unique genetic identity and traits.

The Bible nowhere makes a distinction between born and preborn human life in terms of value and dignity. God sees both the born and unborn equally as sacred human persons worthy of protection.

Tension With Views Supporting Abortion Access

While the Bible does not explicitly prohibit abortion, its view of preborn life as sacred clashes with perspectives that minimize the humanity or personhood of the unborn. Many arguments for broad abortion access are difficult to fully reconcile with Scripture’s affirmation of life in the womb.

For example, viability as a criterion for personhood is problematic, as technology continually pushes back the age of viability. Biblically, dependence on others or location do not define personhood. God purposes and forms life in the womb long before viability.

Likewise, arguments prioritizing a woman’s bodily autonomy over the life of her preborn baby overlook Scripture’s call to lay down our own interests sacrificially for others, born and unborn (Philippians 2:1-4). This applies to all human life, not only post-birth life.

While challenges like poverty, disabilities or crisis pregnancies evoke compassion, God consistently reminds His people to value and protect the vulnerable. Scripture affirms caring for those facing such circumstances, not harming others (Exodus 23:6-9).

Ultimately, both born and preborn life bear God’s image. Efforts to broaden abortion access require nuanced moral and ethical evaluation in light of Scripture’s high view of preborn human dignity and personhood.


In examining key biblical passages, we find remarkable affirmations of life in the womb. God intimately forms each person and knows them long before birth, underscoring deep, innate value.

While the Bible does not explicitly mention abortion, it reveals principles valuing vulnerable human life. This informs perspectives on complex questions in this debate that continues resonating through societies worldwide.

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