The Zionist Conspiracy
Monday, February 27, 2006
Jewish Approach to Abortion
In reaction to the South Dakota abortion ban bill, I've heard a number of frum people who otherwise support a ban on abortion express disagreement with the failure of South Dakota to provide an exception for victims of rape.
To the extent these people's support for an abortion ban is based upon halacha, I fail to understand why the lack of a rape exception is found to be particularly troubling.
While I don't claim to be an expert on the halachic issues, I'm quite certain that according to most halachic authorities, the fact that a woman has been raped does not necessarily allow her to terminate an ensuing pregnancy.
According to many (though not all) authorities, there are circumstances in which a rape victim would be allowed to abort the fetus, such as where she will suffer severe psychological trauma if she has to continue the pregnancy and give birth to the baby. It may well be that this circumstance would apply to most rape victims who wish to have an abortion, but it is still not automatically applied.
And this same halachic leniency could also apply to a woman who has not been raped but for whatever reason will suffer severe psychological trauma if she continues the pregnancy. An example might be a woman who becomes psychotic after giving birth. Ultimately, the matter is a very sensitive one that would be decided on a case-by-case basis.
I don't think observant Jews who generally support an abortion ban but object to the failure to make exceptions for rape are basing their views on halacha. If they were, there would be plenty of other situations in which halacha could potentially apply a more lenient standard than would a blanket ban.
More likely, these people's general approach to abortion is based on their moral values. The support for a rape exception is based upon the fear that something terrible of that sort could happen to a family member, and upon feelings of sympathy for rape victims. There is of course nothing wrong with that. But once sentiments are based on feelings of morality, fear and sympathy rather than halacha, they will inevitably shift based on life experiences, and the views expressed should be seen as those of individual observant Jews, but not ones mandated by halachic Judaism.