In the case of abortion, Jewish law leans toward the modern pro-choice position, but also holds many powerful arguments for pro-life as well….
In the first forty days since conception, the fetus is considered by the sages to merely be water, and as “the thigh of its mother” (Yevamot 69b; Bava Kama 78b). After forty days however, the fetus is ascribed as a fully potential life whereupon that potential life becomes a full life upon birth. After birth, of course, there is a full status change….
Due to the distinct delineation of potential vs. full life, there are various Jewish approaches as to when an abortion can be permitted and at what stage during pregnancy….
What we have seen, sadly, is the proliferation of attempts to abolish abortion through so-called “personhood” state ballot initiatives that declare a fetus a person from the day of inception, making all abortion, and some birth control methods, a crime, regardless of incest, rape, or the welfare of the mother….
The most notable application of the “personhood” amendment to clinical regulation can be seen in attempts in a Texas law requiring providers at all abortion clinics to meet “ambulatory surgical center” standards (i.e. having admitting privileges at a local hospital, even if they are refused by the hospital), which in effect would close all but seven clinics in the state….
This decision, which is likely to appear in front of the Supreme Court, is yet another that ignores basic science.
~ Rabbi Shmuly Yanklowitz, claiming the pro-life movement “ignor[es] basic science” while admitting that Jewish sages ignore the science of human development, The Huffington Post, December 22
Editor’s Note: See this link for more information on embryonic development during the first 40 days after conception.
[Photo via The Jewish Week]