Judaism and Abortion: A Detailed Halachic Analysis

Judaism and Abortion: A Detailed Halachic Analysis, InfoMistico.com

When addressing the topic of abortion, opinions are varied and passionate. However, in Judaism, the traditional perspective does not fully align with any extremist stance. Through the words of Dr. Daniel Eisenberg, radiologist at the Albert Einstein Medical Center and professor at Thomas Jefferson University, we delve into the complexities of this issue within the context of Judaism.

Understanding Permitted Abortion Cases in Jewish Tradition

Contrary to popular belief, Jewish law, or halacha, does not view the fetus merely as an extension of the mother’s body. It is vital to understand how halacha views the fetus: not as a full human being, but also not as something insignificant.

Generally, causing deliberate harm is prohibited and if someone causes an abortion—intentionally or not—there are repercussions.

The debate in Jewish tradition is not centered on whether abortion is morally correct or not. Some rabbis believe it is not a capital crime because the Torah stipulates monetary compensation for miscarriage.

Others see this merely as an indication that there is no death penalty, but that it is still a form of murder. What is unanimous is the belief that the fetus becomes a human being and only under extreme circumstances is an abortion allowed.

Jewish Perspectives on Abortion

Assessment of Physical and Psychological Risks

Halachic Exceptions

One of the few justifications for abortion in Judaism is when the mother’s life is in direct danger from continuing the pregnancy or giving birth.

In these cases, the fetus is viewed as a “pursuer,” an entity threatening the mother’s life. However, there are limits. If the fetus is partially out during childbirth, abortion can no longer be performed because both lives are of equal value.

The assessment is not limited to physical threats; psychological and emotional factors are also considered.

If a woman is at risk of self-harm or suicide due to the pregnancy, an abortion can be justified, although some rabbis believe that with proper treatment, these psychological risks can be mitigated and therefore, abortion would not be necessary.

Jewish Debates on Abortion

Fetal Malformations and Pregnancies from Prohibited Relationships

Malformations and Special Cases

An area of deep debate is when the fetus is found to have malformations. While prominent rabbis, like Rav Moshe Feinstein, disapprove of abortion in these cases, there are notable exceptions, such as Rav Eliezer Yehuda Waldenberg, who allows abortion under certain circumstances.

In cases of pregnancies resulting from prohibited relationships, such as rape or adultery, the debate focuses on the emotional impact on the mother. Each case is unique and the decision is based on a series of complex and delicate factors.

There is no single Jewish answer to abortion. As Dr. Eisenberg points out, each situation is unique and it is always essential to consult a halachic authority when facing this dilemma.

With a focus on humanity and a deep understanding of life, the Jewish perspective offers a balanced and thoughtful view on such a polarizing issue.

We extend our gratitude to Dr. Daniel Eisenberg, from the Department of Radiology at the Albert Einstein Medical Center in Philadelphia, Pasadena and Consulting Professor at the Chair of Diagnosis at Thomas Jefferson University, for his valuable contribution to this article. The information was obtained through aishlatino.com