June 29, 2022 – The recent decision by the United States Supreme Court to overturn Roe vs Wade has elicited intense emotions ranging from elation to despair. Given the gravity of the matter, the nuance of the perspective on this subject in Jewish law, and the fierce division of the American public regarding this issue, the Rabbinical Council of America believes that our response as Orthodox Jews must be carefully measured.
On the one hand, Jewish law does not countenance abortion on demand and hence limiting this phenomenon can be seen as a positive development. On the other hand, Jewish law gives greater latitude to permitting abortions than presently advocated by those who oppose them.
In recognition of the wisdom expressed by those dual positions, it is our belief that state legislation must protect the right to receive abortions for those permitted by Jewish law. At the same time we note that American society was built upon the great moral and legal principles of the Bible, with the value of life being one of those great principles. It deserves to take its place in this national discussion and it encompasses not only the actual birth of children, but also society ensuring that mothers have the wherewithal to care for themselves and their offspring.
As the debate over abortion rights enters this new phase, we encourage states to craft policies that will simultaneously express the great value we place on life as well as protecting the rights to abortion when warranted by Jewish law.