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Taking a Look at Jewish Religious Beliefs

Birth Control and Abortion in Judaism

Traditionally, Jews consider birth control acceptable as long as it doesn’t inhibit the Jewish laws regarding procreation (two child minimum, at least one male). Abortion in Judaism however, is largely left to interpretation.

With exception to disease control, condoms are not an approved birth control method because of the prohibition against the “spilling of seed, “however the pill is an approved method.

More liberal Jews consider choices about sexuality to be theirs to make, and don’t follow a traditional religious authority on such matters, including abortion.

One of the hardest and most important decisions a woman must make is whether to bring a child into the world. Although Judaism clearly honors all human life, the vast majority of Jews believe in a woman’s right to choose an abortion.

Because neither of the Jewish holy texts, the Torah nor Talmud, says anything specific about abortions, rabbis have long had to make up their own interpretations and rulings on this issue. Some traditions say that the child only becomes human when its head passes the birth canal; others say even the life of a fetus is a life worth saving.

Some rabbis are pro-choice and others are pro-life, but the ubiquitous Jewish tradition of pikuakh nefesh, the saving of a life, clearly states that abortion should be allowed if the mother’s life is danger.

The Central Conference of American Rabbis (Reform) has issued a statement that abortion should be permitted “if there is serious danger to the health of the mother or child… [though] it does not encourage abortion, nor favor it for trivial reasons.”

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