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When the ‘Biblical View’ for Evangelicals Was That Life Begins at Birth

Oct 1, 2019

By Jonathan Dudley

In a recent podcast interview, Democratic hopeful Pete Buttigieg noted that some Christians have read the Bible as saying life begins at “first breath.” Buttigieg also noted that, regardless of what any individual believes about the Bible, “the person who should be drawing the line [on when life begins] is the woman making the decision.” Although his “first breath” remarks stirred a firestorm of controversy among religious conservatives, the belief that life begins at birth was widely accepted as “the biblical view” among evangelical Christians only a few decades ago.

In 1968, Christianity Today, the nation’s leading evangelical magazine, hosted a gathering of evangelical leaders from across the country for a symposium on human procreation. Led by theologian Carl F.H. Henry, participants produced a joint statement representing “the conservative or evangelical position within Protestantism.”

While affirming that developing life has some value throughout pregnancy, they were not comfortable assigning full personhood until the very end. “From the moment of birth,” the consensus statement affirmed, “the infant is a human being with all the rights which Scripture accords to all human beings.”

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