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'Abortion: The Jewish View - RABBI DAVID M. FELDMAN

8 April 2005


The "any" is understood to include the day old child, but the "nefesh adam" is taken to exclude the fetus in the womb The Committee on Jewish Law and Standards of the Rabbinical Assembly provides guidance in matters of halakhah for the Conservative movement. [...] Fulgentius ruled that "original sin" is inherited by the soul of the fetus at conception, which made baptism in utero necessary in cases of miscarriage, and which made abortion worse than murder, in the sense that the fetus was being "killed in this world and the next." Judaism has no concept of "original sin" of this kind and, in the words of the Talmud and Daily Prayer Book, "My God, the soul wi. [...] In analyzing such provisions, the Talmud suggested that the reason could well be that the fetus is in the category of an "aggressor"; its life is forfeit under the law which permits killing a "pursuer" in order to save the intended victim. [...] The subsequent rabbinic tradition seems to align itself either to the right, in the direction of Maimonides, or to the left, in the direction of Rashi. [...] Implicit in the Mishnah above is the teaching that the rights of the fetus are secondary to the rights of the mother all the way up until the moment of birth.