The following comes from an Aug. 31 email from a pro-life Jewish friend in Southern California.
I found this back in June 2014, and feel it provides a concise review of rabbinical opinions among Jews who follow the written and so-called Oral law (i.e. Orthodox, Hassidic, and Masorti/traditional). As I understand it, Conservative Jews follow the written law, but are selective in following the Oral law, and Reform Jews have reformed both. I am unsure of how to describe the practice and belief systems of Reconstructionist, Humanistic Judaism, Jewish Renewal et al, except to say that every Jew is still getting ready for Rosh Hashannah, no matter what his or her rabbi says about God’s existence.
This article may provide information should someone Jewish ask where rabbis have stood on the permissibility of abortion. I want to share with you that Rabbi Oshry has written an amazing book in which he details the exact ethical questions he was asked while imprisoned in a Nazi concentration camp. I do not doubt that #5 comes from this. By looking at the few times that Jewish practice allows abortion, it becomes clear that the practice is in general forbidden.
Just as there are Jewish organizations to aid people who need help observing other aspects of Jewish law, so too are there Jewish organizations to aid people who need help in refraining from aborting a fetus. Unfortunately, so far the US has just one organization, so it’s probable that women (and men) may seek help from a Catholic organization.
I’m going to attach a copy of the article, the link I found to it, and a copy and paste from that link.
Published: June 19th, 201
Question: Does halacha agree with the Supreme Court decision of Roe v. Wade permitting women to have abortions?
Answer: In Roe v. Wade (1973), the Supreme Court ruled that women have the right to terminate an embryo or fetus in them during the first trimester of pregnancy. It further ruled that women are under no requirement to provide a compelling medical (or non-medical) reason to abort.
Jewish law disagrees. Abortion on demand is simply prohibited. But what about special situations? Let us discuss some of them.
1. If a woman’s life is in jeopardy, we may terminate the life of the fetus to save the mother (Ohalot 7:6).
2. If there is something wrong with the fetus, some rabbis permit aborting; others do not. Rav Moshe Feinstein, for example, rules that it is forbidden, arguing that defective children have a right to live. Accordingly, he prohibits aborting a Tay-Sachs child. (See “Aborting A Jewish Fetus,” Kuntras L’Torah V’Hora’a, choveret 7, p.9, Elul 5737.)
Rabbi Eliezer Waldenberg (Responsa Tzitz Eliezer, vol.13:102), on the other hand, felt that the ramifications of giving birth to a Tay-Sachs child are so severe – the child has stunted physical and mental development and inevitably dies by age four or so – that aborting is permitted until the seventh month of pregnancy.
3. May a woman who was raped abort her pregnancy? Rav Benzion Uziel (Mishpatai Uziel, vol.III, Choshen Mishpat, 46) and Rav Avraham Yitzchak Kook ruled that she may in order to protect herself from shame and humiliation
4. May a mamzer fetus or one conceived out of wedlock be aborted? Rav Moshe Feinstein rules that it may not. Rav Uziel rules that it may be aborted to avoid shame. Rav Yaakov Emden (She’elat Yavitz 1:43) rules that one may abort a mamzer fetus (one conceived through adultery) but not a fetus conceived out of wedlock since no halachic stigma will be attached to such a fetus should it be born.
5. In Nazi concentration camps, pregnant women were often automatically killed. Were such women permitted to abort their pregnancies? Rabbi Efraim Oshry ruled that they were.
6. May an abortion be performed to prevent a nervous breakdown or the development of mental problems in the mother? Those rabbis that deem shame to a mother as a reason to permit abortions are lenient in regards to mental problems as well. Those rabbis who prohibit abortions even in cases of shame would not consider the possibility of mental problems developing to be reason to abort….
To read more, click here.