Emigrating South African Jews
are picking the West over Israel.
Howard Berlin helps the Red Wings
put their best skate forward.
The Abortion Issue Changes
When The Mother Is Threatened
bortion is an action feared and de-
spised by many, while others see it
as one of the coups of today's
women, now unbound by the shackles of
maternal servitude. "Today our body is
ours" is the echoing tenet of a movement
that feels itself victorious, forever to bat-
tle against the forces of darkness — the
Right to Life people.
Those unlike the aformentioned see in
this clarion call the howls of the devil
himself. "For shame," they cry. "Life begins
in the womb" and abortion is a throwback
to the idolatrous cults who practiced
feticide with no less zeal than today's abor-
Are these clinics' practitioners the
white knights of equal rights or the priests
As with all major questions there is no
Let us begin with life. While life may
begin as .a single cell there are criteria that
determine the legal paramaters of that life.
Furthermore, legal considerations view
this emerging life on different issues in
For example, while feticide may or may
not be considered murder of a human,
under certain circumstances the fetus may
inherit or be given title to immense riches.
Therefore, it is important to understand
Issue No. 1: Is a fetus a human being?
While a fetus is a live entity, it cannot
be considered a "nefesh," or living entity
in terms of the sanctity of its life. Thus, as
a matter of principle the life of a fetus is
Chaim M. Bergstein is rabbi of Congregaion
Bais Chabad of Farmington Hills. This
article was written in response to the Klein
case in New York, in which the husband was
named guardian of his comatose wife in
order to authorize an abortion for their
17-week-old fetus after an automobile
generally considered secondary to the life
of the mother.
In halachic terms, the fetus is either
a) "limb" of its mother;
b) doubtful life; or
c) an incomplete life-form.
While there are definite differences in
law if we define the fetus as one or the
other, suffice it to say that as a limb of the
mother it has less significance than as an
incomplete life. So that in cases where the
mother is ill and would have a little longer
life or better chance of surviving, the fetus
would be aborted in favor of the even tern-
porary well-being of the mother.
There are stages in the fetus' viability
as well. In Stage A, prior to 40 days the
fetus is considered "unformed" and is
almost universally permitted to be aborted
for significant grounds. Incredibly, modern
science has discovered that at six weeks
(approximately 40 days) the heart of the
fetus begins beating. This could be con-
sidered the point of departure or viable
How profound that the criteria for
death in Halachah is the heart-lung func-
tion. Thus, the official beginning and end
of life are interrelated!
Stage B: 40 days through birth. While
some permit abortion up until the first
trimester, the vast majority of rabbinic
responsa agree that abortion is severely
Stage C: At birth the child struggling
to be born is considered an entity unto
itself, even according to those opinions that
consider the fetus as an organ of the
mother. At this point, only if the festus
poses direct danger to the mother's life may
it be aborted. If, however, there is a ques-
tion as to whether the fetus constitutes a
danger to the mother, some would not con-
sider the killing of this baby as it is now
considered a separate, albeit unwhole,
human being or nefesh.
Stage D: Upon the emergence of the
Continued on Page 10
Out monthly family section
readies for the holiday of Purim.
Willa Rouder is one of many
new musicians at the Symphony.
area they enjoy.
The family orientation
of synagogue and communal life
is turning off Jewish singles.
Life In Israel
February 24, 1989
Sabbath ends Feb. 18 7:02 p.m.
THE DETROIT JEWISH NEWS