Exodus 21:22: Translations Various Religious Denominations' Views on Abortion

Exodus 21:22: Interpretations

My own opinion (LH):  The NIV translation is makes no sense.  "No harm no foul"  -- plus the suggestion that the passage concerns men fighting with each other when a  pregnant woman happens to get in the way, gets accidentally struck, and  goes into labor seems far-fetched; not exactly something crying out for legistation.  Abortion on the other hand is not far-fetched and seems just the sort of thing that does cry out for legislation.    The King James and Revised Standard interpretations are more sensible: they take "strive" in this passage to mean  "endeavor" or "seek", and the scenario is not the far-fetched one of men fighting and accidently striking a pregnant bystander, but men endeavoring to cause a woman to miscarry, striving, in other words,  to perform an abortion.  The implication -- since the punishment specified is an (optional) fine and the penalty specified for murder (in a passage immediately preceding) is death -- would be that abortion is not  murder in the eyes of the author(s) of these laws.  Miscarriage naturally involves the death of the fetus and the harm in question here is solely to the woman.  (Foreseeing -- and not wanting to admit this implication -- I surmise is what leads the NIV and NET -- to translate this passage according  to the dictates of their translators' own personal "pro-life" persuasions.  The NET -- in a note accompanying this passage -- even explicitly cites the fact of the punishment being a fine as a reason for preferring the "born prematurely" reading!)

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