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Rabbi Bennett speaks at a panel discussion
on abortion sponsored by the NCJW
psychological health of family may be a
potential allowable circumstance."
Rabbis from other streams of
Judaism had distinct views.
In a telephone interview, Rabbi
Herbert Yoskowitz of Adat Shalom
Synagogue, a Conservative congregation,
said abortion is justified "only when the
mother's well being is in extreme danger,
psychological as well as physical."
Rabbi Yoskowitz said determining
whether the pregnancy would cause
"irredeemable harm" is "a gray area."
"Even though, in Jewish law, the
fetus is not a life, it's a potential life,"
he said, "so it must be treated with the
Rabbi Herschel Finman of Oak
Park, an independent Chasidic rabbi
serving the Detroit Jewish community,
said in a telephone interview that "the
basic gist is that Judaism is opposed to
abortion on demand. But, if the
mother's life is in danger, it becomes
Before birth, the fetus is considered
to be a part of the mother. "If a woman
decides she doesn't like her hand, she
can't just chop it off," he said.
The concept of rodef "continues to be
true until the baby's head comes out,"
Rabbi Finman said. Then, the two —
mother and child — are treated equally.
A minority, more-liberal Orthodox
opinion would allow abortion within the
first 40 days after conception in extreme
extenuating circumstances, such as the
discovery of the inevitably fatal Tay-Sachs
disease in the developing embryo.
But, added Rabbi Elimelech
Silberberg of the Sara Tugman Bais
Chabad Torah Center in West
Bloomfield, 'After 40 days, if the life of
the mother is not in danger, the nor-
mative halachic [Jewish law] viewpoint
is that abortion is prohibited."