Reform Judaism/Abortion


Dear Sir,
Are Jews more pro-life or pro-choice?

Thank you for your kind question. First, you must know that Judaism is not a dogmatic religion. Aside from a few very basics ( ie that G-d is one) there needs be and often is not any significant agreement on other issues. However, abortion in Judaism is not seen as an appropriate method of birth control. We likewise do not see it as murder. Otherwise there would be sometimes when murder is okay ( ie when one's own life is in danger or on the battlefield). Human life, in Judaism is of massive importance. The sages tell us that is why Adam was created as a single individual. Each life has the potential to do so much good and indeed rebuild the world. However, we believe that actual life text precedence over potential life. Therefore if the mother's life is in danger, similar to one being pursued by a bandit with the threat of being killed, then the mother's life (or the one being pursued's life) takes precedent over the other. So to answer your question I would say in general Judaism is very much Pro life. Perhaps, however, the way we see some of the issues may be strikingly different.

Now would be a good time to discuss the issue of pro-life versus anti-abortion. Many who claim to be the former are in reality really simply the latter. I have often said that "although we may differ on when life begins, I think we would all agree it does not end at birth". A truly pro-life person would be against the death penalty unless the requirements of the Bible were met and indeed there were two eyewitnesses to the actual crime itself and the person knew ahead of time that their crime was indeed a capital offense and they committed it anyway. A true pro-life individual would do their best to make sure that every individual goes to bed with something in their stomach and that each individual on the planet has clean and pure drinking water (seven times the number of abortions done in the United States die in the world of unclean drinking water each day).  A truly pro-life individual would be pro-gun control, realizing that 10 times the number of individuals have died this year alone from gun violence as have been aborted in the United States. A truly pro-life person would insist on the government helping people who cannot help themselves or cannot make ends meet despite their efforts. Instead, what we have seen from our  "pro-life" friends this year is a reduction in food stamps and other aid to individuals who are already bordering on starvation (not to mention removing millions of dollars a day from an already stricken US economy).  Since most to claim to be pro-lifers do not agree with any of these concepts I must come to the conclusion that they are really more anti-abortion than pro-life. I hope that you are truly pro-life! Shalom and happy holidays!

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Ovadiah ben Avraham


All questions pertaining to Judaism in general; medical and ethical Halakhah; New Testament theology as it pertains to Judaism. I am committed to both interfaith relations and counter-missionary arguments. Indeed, if one looks closely, there is no contradiction. My right to swing my arms ends where your nose begins. We can discuss without malice and possibly even learn something from one another.


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Havaruah Kol Ami (Conservo-Reconstructionist Minhag)

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