Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Abortion, halacha, and the jobs issue (reply to Debbie Greniman)

The overwhelming majority of abortions are motivated by the woman's economic situation. If good guys are out there, women will save themselves for them, and so an out of wedlock pregnancy will just produce a wedding.

As for halacha, you are right, Debbie, that there are nuanced positions out there. But are they correct? An unnuanced position (like that of Maimonides) seems to be the only one consistent with what Rabbi Yehuda Hanasi learned from Antoninus Caesar (Sanhedrin 91b).


  1. Do you have statistics to back up your claim that the overwhelming majority of abortions are motivated by the woman's economic situation? Or about what proportion are on account of out-of-wedlock pregnancy?

    Re halakhah, R. Moshe Feinstein represents the position of Maimonides in our time. However, R. Eliezer Waldenberg, for example, permitted abortion in many circumstances (certainly not on demand). This is also the position of Rashi. I am not qualified to decide which of these sages is more "correct," but the latter position has been the majority trend in halakhah through the ages, and many Orthodox rabbis will respond this way if asked.

    1. The most common underlying reasons for abortion were 1) they could not afford a child at the time and were unmarried (42%), 2) it would interfere with their education (38%), 3) it would interfere with their employment (38%), and 4) they were students or planning to enroll in studies (34%).

    2. More data: