Jewish Values and Reproductive Rights

Reference: Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism

All life is sacred in Judaism. Although an unborn fetus is precious and to be protected, Judaism views the life and well-being of the mother as paramount, placing a higher value on existing life than on potential life. Women are commanded to care for their own health and well-being above all else. Therefore, there are several instances when Judaism not only condones abortions, but they are mandated.

Mishnah Ohaloth 7:6, for example, forbids a woman from sacrificing her own life for that of the fetus, and if her life is threatened, the text permits her no other option but abortion. In addition, if the mental health, sanity, or self-esteem of the woman (i.e. in the case of rape or incest) is at risk due to the pregnancy itself, the Mishnah permits the woman to terminate the pregnancy.

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