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sexta-feira, 15 de outubro de 2010

Mais posicionamentos sobre aborto: The intentional termination of a pregnancy -


Abortion is a highly emotive issue both within the Jewish and non-Jewish world, with opinions ranging from those favouring abortion on demand to those seeking a total ban on the grounds that it is nothing less than murder. The traditional Jewish response has been to oppose abortion in principle yet permit it in specific circumstances. This attitude derives from the biblical incident when two men who were fighting injure a pregnant woman: if the woman dies, they are liable to the death penalty; if just the foetus dies, then they are merely given a fine (Exodus 21:22-23).

The clear implication is that a foetus does not have the status of a living person. Although it should be protected and any maltreatment is punishable, fatal injury to it does not constitute murder. A passage in the Mishnah indicates that this remains the case until the head or greater part of the foetus has emerged from the mother’s womb’ thereafter it is considered a living being (Oholot 7.6). In a situation where the pregnancy endangered the mother, an abortion was deemed permissible as the mother’s life took precedence over a life that only existed in potential. Thus the Jewish criterion for abortion was not how many weeks old was the foetus, but whether it presented a threat to the mother’s health. In any conflict between the rights of the mother and the rights of the foetus, it is generally the former that prevail.
 
Subsequent Rabbinic decisions considered the extent to which saving the mother’s health applied. Some authorities included concern for her mental health, as in cases where the difficulty of pregnancy or the burden of an extra child would endanger her sanity. The distress of the mother is also seen as grounds by some authorities to grant an abortion if the child is thought likely to be born physically deformed or mentally defective. Other authorities are more restrictive. British law permits abortion if it is agreed by two doctors that a woman’s pregnancy causes risk to her life, or injury to the physical or mental health of either her or her family. Evidence of mental or physical abnormalities in the foetus would also justify abortion.
There is no definitive ruling within Reform on abortion, but there is a strong tendency to favour the liberal viewpoints of Jewish tradition; abortion is allowed in various circumstances where facilities are available for it to be carried out legally and safely. The right of an adult woman to make decisions about her own life and to have sovereignty over her own body are additional factors to be considered. Some Rabbis extend the principle of mental anguish and regard abortion as permissible “when the woman has serious emotional reservations about having the child” (Barbara Borts, Abortion – A Jewish Response, page 6). In the case of an unwanted child which may be unloved and uncared for, perhaps even abused, the quality of its life has to be taken into account. However, abortion as a form of contraception cannot be sanctioned.

A further concern is the role of the father in any decision. Whereas in traditional thinking it is purely the mother’s physical and mental well-being that is the issue, in the Reform view it is advocated that the father’s feelings should also be taken into account (Barbara Borts, Abortion – A Jewish Response, page 6). It is his child too, and he will be involved in the consequences of whatever decision is reached. Nevetheless the final word should still rest with the mother whose responsibility it would be to carry the foetus throughout the pregnancy and who would be the one most affected, physically and emotionally, by any abortion.

  • From Faith & Practice by Rabbi Jonathan Romain, pages 211-13
  • http://www.reformjudaism.org.uk/a-to-z-of-reform-judaism/medical-ethics/abortion.html

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