Applying the Law of Moses to abortion is very difficult.  The closest relevant passage is in Exodus 21:22-25 where it states that if two men are struggling and a pregnant woman is struck and injured which causes her fruit to depart (YASA YELED), and no harm follows, the man who struck her is fined.  If there is injury to the woman or baby, punishment is to be "life for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot, burning for burning, wound for wound, stripe for stripe" (Exodus 21:23-25).

In other words, we have a situation where two men are fighting and a pregnant woman is struck.  She delivers a premature baby but is not harmed herself.  There is no injury to anyone.  The men are to be fined which the husband and the judge determine.  However, if an injury results from the strike, then the law of retaliation is invoked.  The law of retaliation would apply both to mother and baby in this case. This reasoning is based on the Hebrew words YASA YELED which is used to describe the results of the pregnant woman being hit.  The verb YASA means "to go out" or "come out" and refers to the ordinary birth of children (Genesis 25:25-26; Genesis 38:27-30; Job 3:11; Jeremiah 1:5).  YELED is used for what issues from the womb. Thus, this would indicate that the baby is born alive, but ahead of time.  However, the Hebrew noun ASON is indefinite in both verses of Exodus 21:22-23.  This indicates that the harm, which was avoided in verse 22 but occurred in verse 23, is to either the mother or the baby.

In conclusion, Exodus 21:22-25 states that when the baby is born prematurely but unharmed, a fine is paid.  When there is harm to either mother or baby, then the law of retaliation applies.  This implies that what happens is accidental.  Please note that this is the only place in the old law where the death penalty is required for an accidental death.  This shows the importance of pregnant women and developing babies to God.  

Charles Royal
Decatur AL

"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," "Eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot," "Burning for burning, wound for wound, stripe for stripe."

"And the first came out red, all over like an hairy garment; and they called his name Esau." "And after that came his brother out, and his hand took hold on Esau's heel; and his name was called Jacob: and Isaac was threescore years old when she bare them."

"And it came to pass in the time of her travail, that, behold, twins were in her womb." "And it came to pass, when she travailed, that the one put out his hand: and the midwife took and bound upon his hand a scarlet thread, saying, This came out first." "And it came to pass, as he drew back his hand, that, behold, his brother came out: and she said, How hast thou broken forth? this breach be upon thee: therefore his name was called Pharez." "And afterward came out his brother, that had the scarlet thread upon his hand: and his name was called Zarah."

Why died I not from the womb? why did I not give up the ghost when I came out of the belly?

"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."