In this week’s parasha, Mishpatim, among more than 50 other commandments, we find the foundational text for Judaism’s position on abortion: That it is not only permitted, but required in certain circumstances. Exodus 21:22-25 states that if a miscarriage is accidentally caused, the one who caused the damage is only required to pay reparations. The case is not treated as manslaughter. Therefore, from the Torah on, the termination of a pregnancy has never been considered murder.
This Shabbat has been declared “Repro Shabbat” by the National Council of Jewish Women, a time to learn about the Jewish position on abortion and stand up for reproductive rights. At Friday, February 9, 6:30pm services this Shabbat, we will take time to discuss Jewish texts on the topic and learn how Judaism’s position is at odds with a particular Christian definition of the beginning of life that abortion bans often reflect.