Thursday, July 12, 2018

Judaism and exceptions to abortion

Ben Shapiro writes:

But for the sake of clarity, here is my position on the morality and law of abortion: (1) I believe abortion is murder because life begins at conception; (2) I believe that the government has an interest in stopping murder; (3) I believe that there should be exceptions for when the mother’s life is in danger, including when her mental health prevents her from carrying her to term.

I disagree with the second half of his third point. I don't see how a mother's mental health or rather illness (e.g. post-partum depression) is an exception, constituting endangerment to her life, though it could be a mitigating factor. If someone shoots and kills an innocent person, but is found to have been mentally ill at the time, would this mean their killing an innocent person is an exception to murder? Again, I could see how it'd be a mitigating factor in the trial - like I could see how it wouldn't necessarily be, say, first or second degree murder - but I don't see how it wouldn't be murder in general.

(In fairness, this is a reason why Shapiro is an orthodox Jew rather than an evangelical Christian, as Shapiro's interlocutor wrongly alleges. Orthodox Jews evidently make exceptions for abortion that evangelical Christians would not.)


  1. He also says "As I’ve said many many MANY times on my show and in my speeches, every policy I argue ought to have a basis in secular rationalism, even if the core of my argument rests on the religious respect for the sanctity of life." -- This seems like a reasonable position for Christians to take, although we want to make sure that our "reason" and "rationalism" are biblically informed.

  2. I don't know how constrained orthodox Jews consider themselves to be to the Talmud. It would seem sensible to me for Jews to take into consideration the large body of modern, scientific knowledge we have that confirms that humanity of the unborn, and acknowledge the limits and out-of-date features of some Talmudic or traditional teaching.