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Jewish Perspectives on Abortion

Contemporary Judaism can be broken into three distinctive groups: Orthodox, Reformed, and Conservative. The formation of these three groups represent historical and social factions within the contemporary practice of the Jewish faith and its beliefs. In tandem, the variant positions adopted by these Orthodox, Reformed and Conservative branches reflect upon the status and treatment of women within Judaism. Further, scrutiny of these three groups's formal stands on abortion will reveal how Judaism theorizes about sexuality, procreation, family and marriage.

Sociological research indicates that "Jews support the availability of abortion in far greater numbers than members of any other religion." Simply stated, Orthodox Jews generally oppose nontherapeutic abortion while both the Conservative and Reform movements generally support elective abortion. However, this formulaic breakdown of these three groups' typical responses does not offer either a comprehensive or analytical account of why these positions are adopted. To understand the Jewish response to abortion, critical thinkers must adopt some decidedly unChristian perspectives. Judaism's attitudes toward life and death, the pregnant mother and the fetus follow within their own ethical, canonical and historical traditions. They are not to be misread as either being in duplicate or in parallel to Christian law and attitudes.

The first paradox for non-Jewish thinkers to grasp is that the Jewish perspective on abortion cannot be overly simplified. It is not to be diminished to a position which is understood as entirely prolife or prochoice. These polarized positions would misrepresent the Jewish position on abortion. Paradoxically, the American Jewish perspective on abortion is both. Yet in order to understand the complexity of Jewish law and tradition regarding the pregnant woman and her fetus more must first be understood about the origins of Jewish thought and li...

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Jewish Perspectives on Abortion. (1969, December 31). In Retrieved 21:30, July 01, 2022, from