Abortion in Jewish Law and Life


Abortion in Jewish Law and Life

Program: Hebrew College Me’ah Select
Instructor: Rabbi Carl Perkins  (Read Bio)
Dates: 5 Thursdays, 3/21, 3/28, 4/4, 4/11 & 4/18
Time: 9:30-11:30 a.m.
Course fee: $225, financial aid is available
Location: Zoom
Hosted by: Hebrew College

Meet the instructor: Rabbi Carl Perkins

We will explore both the way abortion has been dealt with by Jewish legal authorities as well as the role Jewish organizations and communal leaders have played in the abortion debates in the United States. Some of the questions that we will explore in this course are:

• What is the origin of the different understandings of the nature and permissibility of abortion within the Jewish and Christian traditions?

• If Judaism is so focused on the preservation and enhancement of life; if life is so valued within the Jewish tradition that the saving of a human life takes precedence over virtually all other mitzvot; then how is it that Jewish legal perspectives toward abortion can be so different from what we understand to be the so-called “pro-life” position in our culture?

• If traditional Judaism is so focused on duties and obligations (mitzvot), how is it possible that a “pro-choice” position – which values individual autonomy — can be understood to be consistent with Jewish law and tradition?

• Much of the discussion in Jewish legal texts regarding abortion focuses on the permissibility of so-called “therapeutic abortions” – that is, medical or surgical steps undertaken to end a pregnancy when the mother’s life, health or well-being is threatened or when the fetus has severe abnormalities and is not expected to survive after birth. What does the Jewish tradition have to say about the permissibility of abortion for other reasons?

For more information, contact meah@hebrewcollege.edu