The same word is used for both. It is said of Rebekah’s twins that the children struggled within her: And the children struggled together within her; and she said, If it be so, why am I thus? And she went to enquire of the LORD, Genesis 25:22.
This is the word for children already born. Note the use of the same original word but with a different English translation in Proverbs 7:7: And beheld among the simple ones, I discerned among the youths, a young man void of understanding.
It is likewise so in the New Testament. The same word is used for a child whether born or unborn. At the very beginning if its existence it is looked upon in exactly the same terms as immediately prior to its birth. In both places it described as a son: And, behold, thy cousin Elisabeth, she hath also conceived a son in her old age: and this is the sixth month with her, who was called barren, Luke 1:36. Compare these words with v57: Now Elisabeth’s full time came that she should be delivered; and she brought forth a son.
Likewise the word ‘babe’ in Luke 1:41,44 referring to an unborn child is also used of newborn children, cf. Luke 2:12, 2 Timothy 3:15, 1 Peter 2:2.
God uses equivalent terms to speak of children from conception, before they are born and after they are born.
Personality and life is present in the unborn from conception. David’s description of himself before and after he was born shows that there is a personal identity present in the fully grown man is present in the unborn child from their earliest days: Psalm 139:1-16. David speaks of God having a blueprint for his development.
The Lord said He knew the prophet Jeremiah before he was born, Jeremiah 1:5: Before I formed thee in the belly I knew thee; and before thou camest forth out of the womb I sanctified thee, and I ordained thee a prophet unto the nations.
Being a person in every sense of the word, then the unborn child has the same right to have its life protected as any other individual would.
This applies whether the child has some serious disability or is the offspring of a forbidden relationship. The first is no better than what Hilter did with his eugenics programme in Germany and was rightly condemned. Whatever the terrible wrongs of the second, the child of such a liaison is certainly not to be killed for the wrongs of a father. Two wrongs do not make a right! Since when was it justice to kill a child for the sins of the father?
The crime of murder is punishable by the perpetrator forfeiting his own life. The idea of capital punishment originated with the Bible. There is however a distinction to be made between murder and manslaughter. Manslaughter is where a person accidentally kills a fellow human being but never intended so to do. The manslayer was not to lose their own life in these circumstances, cf. Exodus 21:13: And if a man lie not in wait, but God deliver him into his hand; then I will appoint thee a place whither he shall flee.
The institution of capital punishment is carried over into the New Testament. There were others crimes in Israel punishable in this way. They have ceased but the capital punishment for murder still holds true. Murder is the willful deliberate taking of another’s life.
God states that the same punishment is to be passed upon the person who causes the unborn to die, Exodus 21:22,23: If men strive, and hurt a woman with child, so that her fruit depart from her, and yet no mischief follow: he shall be surely punished, according as the woman’s husband will lay upon him; and he shall pay as the judges determine. And if any mischief follow, then thou shalt give life for life.
Whoever harms the unborn their life is to be taken away as punishment. In God’s eyes the killing of the unborn is as wrong and sinful as the killing of an adult. In God’s eyes to kill the unborn is to murder them. In God’s eyes the unborn child is as real and of the same value as an adult.
Murder defiles a land, Numbers 35:30-34. Nothing will lift that defilement until and unless the murderer is punishment. No bargain is to be struck to let the murderer escape, cf. v31: Moreover ye shall take no satisfaction for the life of a murderer, which is guilty of death: but he shall be surely put to death.
How great is the strain on so called civilised society with the murder of so many unborn children? Their blood cries out unto God for recompense.
The unborn child must equally abide by the law of God which says that it must not kill. It has to be stressed that these types of cases are extremely rare. The unborn child in these rare circumstances, like anyone else, does not have an absolute right to live even to the point where someone else loses their life, like its mother.
For example, if a mother needed medical treatment or surgery to preserve her own life but that treatment would harm and kill her unborn child then she is entitled to go ahead with that treatment. Historic Protestantism has always held to the belief that in those cases where it is impossible to save the life of both mother and child then it is the mother’s life which should have the first right to be protected.
The rationale. An unborn child does not have an innate right to kill its parent. If nothing is done in these circumstances then both mother and child will die. The sixth commandment not only forbids us to take life, it also requires us to preserve life. The answer to Shorter Catechism question 68 states: The sixth commandment requireth all lawful endeavours to preserve our own life and the life of others.
To stand back and let both mother and child die is to break the sixth commandment and kill by omission.