Abortion And The Jewish Faith: A Response To A Baltimore Sun Op-Ed

By Agudath Israel of America
Posted on 07/15/16

Rabbi Avi Shafran

Director of Public Affairs

The letter below was printed in Thursday's Baltimore Sun:

Andrea Barron ("Abortion and the Jewish faith," July 5) gravely misrepresents the Jewish religious tradition's attitude toward abortion.  All accepted authorities of halacha, or Jewish law, from ancient times to the modern era, agree that abortion is prohibited in all but certain exceptional cases.  There is, to put it straightforwardly, no "right to abort" in Judaism.

In her commentary, Ms. Barron claims that "the heart of the anti-abortion movement" is that "life begins at conception."  That might be the attitude of some abortion opponents, but many other people with a fine-honed moral sensibility would characterize their position as "fetal life has great value too."  That is Judaism's position, and has been for millennia, which is why it forbids abortion in all but rare cases.

Jewish groups might legitimately debate whether abortion should remain legal under secular law, but as far as Jewish law is concerned the consensus is clear that abortion is, in the vast majority of cases, forbidden.  Characterizing Judaism's attitude otherwise simply falsifies the facts.

Rabbi Avi Shafran

Director of Public Affairs

Agudath Israel of America

New York, NY


Rabbi Ariel Sadwin

Director of Agudath Israel of Maryland - Mid-Atlantic Region

Baltimore, MD