Religion & Beliefs

You Can Have An Abortion (as long as it cripples you emotionally)

I heard this morning on the radio that Georgia just passed a new law requiring women to watch an ultrasound before they decide whether or not to have an abortion. I was stunned by this. It just seems very very … Read More

By / February 16, 2007
Jewcy loves trees! Please don't print!

I heard this morning on the radio that Georgia just passed a new law requiring women to watch an ultrasound before they decide whether or not to have an abortion. I was stunned by this. It just seems very very very wrong and cruel.

But it got me thinking about abortion in general, and reminded me about a conversation I had once with a very cool rabbi, who explained to me that in Judaism, the issue isn’t so cut and dry as it is in the American legal system It isn’t black or white.. As with many complicated issues, Jewish thinkers have recognized that there isn’t really one ethic to uphold. There are shades of grey, and compromises that get made.

So to refresh my memory, I ran over to Aish, to see what they had to say on the matter. Here’s one nugget of wisdom from their site:

The easiest way to conceptualize a fetus in halacha is to imagine it as a full-fledged human being — but not quite.

Isn’t that helpful?

Far more helpful is this:

As a general rule, abortion in Judaism is permitted only if there is a direct threat to the life of the mother by carrying the fetus to term or through the act of childbirth. In such a circumstance, the baby is considered tantamount to a rodef, a pursuer after the mother with the intent to kill her.

Which is an interesting way of looking at things.

More interesting still is that the fetus doesn’t have to directly cause the DEATH of the mother in order to affect the LIFE of the mother. Which is just the kind of distinction I love…

Judaism recognizes psychiatric as well as physical factors in evaluating the potential threat that the fetus poses to the mother. However, the danger posed by the fetus (whether physical or emotional) must be both probable and substantial to justify abortion.

Which makes a lot of sense to me.

See, while I am a super-vehement pro-choice advocate for a lot of social issues I won’t go into here, I don’t take abortion lightly, and I think people SHOULD have to weigh and evaluate such a massive decision carefully. And I think that this response, the Jewish response, is as good (though it can be interpreted in ways I don’t like) as any.

Except maybe my own. But then, my response is pretty fucking personal. And a bit unusual.