PBA470H: Religious Perspectives on Pre-Born Human Rights

Christian Perspectives

The Bible

FIXME Articles from Life Training Institute on Abortion & the Bible:

Catholic Social Teaching


  • Evangelium Vitae
  • Donom Vitae
  • Theology of the Body
  • etc.

Jewish Perspectives

Islamic Perspectives

Ensoulment Argument

From Yasmin Sham1):

You may have come across Muslims who have said that abortion is “okay” before “40 or 120 days” because there is no soul before that time according to various haddiths. Many Christian and secular pro-life activists find themselves unequipped to handle Islamic theology. The good news is that this argument is VERY easy to deal with.

The concept of a soul is a bit different in Islam than in Christianity. The body and soul are separate things and the concept of life and death is slightly different. Islam, according to several narrations (Haddith), what Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) said, states that the soul enters the body at some point during pregnancy, which is claimed to be 40 days or 120 days in some other narrations, via the 2 designated angels for the new person.

(Note: This information is never mentioned in the Qur'an. This does not mean it is not true but the consensus amongst Muslims is that the Qur'an contains the most important messages.

However, the first 40 days is not the only time the soul is separated from the body. In fact, Islam says that the soul is removed, by those 2 angels, during sleep/coma and returned when awakened. Also, during death, the angels of death remove the soul and place it on top of the body, where it will return back to quicken the body on the Day of Resurrection.

In Islam, it is not permissible to kill someone in their sleep. Also it is not even permissible to break the bones of a dead body (human or animal).

If you need to reply quickly, simply ask them if it's okay to kill someone in their sleep or in a coma. That has always worked for me.

The Qur'an on Human Development

See what the Qur'an has to say about conception and embryology (though the focus on the whole leech thing is more making a case for revelation than it is for the humanity of the child):

ERI Interview

Equal Rights Institute interview with liberal Islamic theologian Dr. Javad Hashmi, some interesting background (but not necessarily applicable broadly):

Atheist Perspectives

Christopher Hitchens, Robert Price, Arif Ahmed, Nat Hentoff

FIXME Kristine Kruzelnicki at UofT in Oct 2016