Did Jesus say something about abortion?

Abortion and religion - This is how the world religions stand on abortion

Pope Francis recently compared abortion to “contract murder”. Not only feminist theologians were outraged by this: The topic of abortion is polarizing, because: Increasingly, religious argumentation collides with modern lifestyle and the right to self-determination.

A look at the attitudes of five global religions.


A multitude of different religious traditions are hidden behind the term "Hinduism". However, they share common basic views.

"The ideal of non-violence towards all living beings is of central importance in all Hindu religions," says Birgit Heller, professor of religious studies in Vienna. «In the so-called Dharma texts, abortion is clearly condemned and made a criminal offense. It is considered the killing of a living being. "

The embryo is viewed as a spiritual being from the start. The old Ayurvedic texts explain how a soul enters the womb during sexual intercourse.

However, in 1971 in secular India - the state with the largest Hindu population - abortion was legalized under certain conditions (precarious health of the mother, severe impairment of the child, rape, unsuccessful contraception).

There is often a gap between religious norms and social practice: "Today in India there are around 11 million abortions a year," says Heller. This has to do with the widespread phenomenon of girls' abortion, which is forbidden by the secular state.

In the meantime, prenatal gender selection has led to a dramatic gender imbalance, says Heller: “In addition to economic reasons - extremely high dowry costs - this practice also has religious roots. Female life is considered inferior by the traditional religious elite, the Brahmins. To be born a woman is the result of bad karma in a past life. "


In Judaism, human life is understood as sacred. Abortion is therefore forbidden in and of itself in Jewish Orthodoxy. Reform Judaism is partly of a different opinion in this regard.

David Bollag, Judaist and Orthodox rabbi, explains: “In certain exceptional situations, an abortion is allowed. For example, when the mother's physical or mental health is at risk. "

This view is based on the Mishnah and the Talmud, the so-called oral Torah. The written Torah does not comment on this.

According to Judaism, a person's life does not begin until he is born. “As soon as the embryo is implanted in the womb, it is considered a potential person and an abortion would be the destruction of potential life. But it is not murder, ”said Bollag.

To protect this life, the Sabbath laws must be broken where necessary. However, the embryo does not have full human rights.

However, if an abortion has to be performed, it should still be done as early as possible in the pregnancy. Bollag explains, "The more advanced the pregnancy, the more difficult it will be for a rabbi to allow an abortion."

This is because the fetus continually gains human rights in the course of pregnancy until it is fully acquired at birth.


According to classical Buddhist texts, human life arises at the moment of conception. This means that abortion is understood as an act of killing.

Jens Schlieter, Professor of Religious Studies in Bern, explains: "In Buddhism, in principle, no form of living being, no matter how small, must not be intentionally destroyed."

Buddhist ethics traditionally looks primarily at the doer - and little at the victim. "The agents have to determine for themselves whether they want to carry out an action and its negative karmic consequences that affect their future existence."

Some countries in Asia have a relatively high abortion rate despite Buddhist tradition, says Schlieter. "The Buddhist doctrine and tradition has adapted very strongly to the surrounding culture in the different countries of Asia, especially in the large metropolises."

The well-being of women, for example, is given greater consideration: "If women are in dire economic or social hardship through childbirth, abortion is an option."

This resulted in a peculiar practice in East Asia: those who have an abortion donate an accompanying Buddhist stone figurine.

Cemeteries in Japan, for example, have specific areas for bodhisattva statues, the link will open in a new window. These enlightenment beings should take care of the killed fetuses and accompany them through the underworld.

A debt relief ritual? Schlieter says: “Those affected show that the fate of the unborn is close to them. But one also fears the vengeance of those killed, who may return as unsatisfied spirits. "


Abortion is not an issue in the Bible.

Christianity generally rejects abortion, because "Christianity is committed to every life, especially the weak, unheard, unwanted or disabled," explains the Protestant theologian Christine Stark.

According to official Roman Catholic doctrine, abortion is prohibited from killing. Because with fertilization there is a person who has full human dignity.

But strongly emphasizes: «The opinions between the magisterium and the church people diverge widely. This was recently shown by the inner-Catholic upheaval after the Pope's statement in which he compared abortion with contract murder. "

The denominations, however, differ greatly in detail: in the Reformed Church, as in the other European Protestant churches, the situation of pregnant women is included in the considerations.

In addition, education and contraception are being promoted as an effective means of reducing unwanted pregnancies, said Stark.

In Christianity, therefore, there is no exact point in time at which an abortion would still be justifiable. Nevertheless, theologians discussed the most varied of views as to when a fetus was animated.

Christine Stark explains: "From the assumption of a pre-existing soul, to the idea that the soul occurs at the moment of conception, to the notion that a rational soul exists in the fetus from a certain day."

Such assessments also offer points of reference to the deadline solution, which is accepted as a last resort in reformed ethics.


Neither the Koran nor the Sunna deal explicitly with the subject of abortion, but the general prohibition of killing applies here as well.

The question of abortion brings a multitude of doctrines to the table in Islam. Depending on the law school, country and society, but also depending on the level of scientific knowledge and the specific situation, there is a differentiated legal and abortion practice.

The Islamic scholar Amira Hafner-Al Jabaji explains: “Abortion is fundamentally forbidden. Unless the life or health of the woman is endangered or the child is seriously ill. "

As in other traditions, the term for abortion is related to when human life begins. “The Hanafi and Shafi schools of law and thus the majority of Muslims assume that the embryo is animated 120 days after fertilization. Others assume 40 days, ”says Hafner-Al Jabaji. After this period, abortion is usually prohibited.

Basically, however, it can be said that Sharia law is not rigid, but is subject to developments. Hafner-Al Jabaji explains: “The social circumstances of those affected and the new level of knowledge play a major role in finding the law. They are tied both to their time and to the mufti who formulates them. "

Accordingly, muftis also issue new fatwas (legal considerations) and include specific circumstances and reasons that can legitimize abortions, such as rape.