Abortion in Jewish Thought and Law
(יט) הַעִידֹ֨תִי בָכֶ֣ם הַיּוֹם֮ אֶת־הַשָּׁמַ֣יִם וְאֶת־הָאָרֶץ֒ הַחַיִּ֤ים וְהַמָּ֙וֶת֙ נָתַ֣תִּי לְפָנֶ֔יךָ הַבְּרָכָ֖ה וְהַקְּלָלָ֑ה וּבָֽחַרְתָּ֙ בַּֽחַיִּ֔ים לְמַ֥עַן תִּחְיֶ֖ה אַתָּ֥ה וְזַרְעֶֽךָ׃

(19) I call heaven and earth to witness against you this day, that I have set before thee life and death, the blessing and the curse; therefore choose life, that thou mayest live, thou and thy seed;

(כב) וְכִי יִנָּצוּ אֲנָשִׁים וְנָגְפוּ אִשָּׁה הָרָה וְיָצְאוּ יְלָדֶיהָ וְלֹא יִהְיֶה אָסוֹן עָנוֹשׁ יֵעָנֵשׁ כַּאֲשֶׁר יָשִׁית עָלָיו בַּעַל הָאִשָּׁה וְנָתַן בִּפְלִלִים. (כג) וְאִם אָסוֹן יִהְיֶה וְנָתַתָּה נֶפֶשׁ תַּחַת נָפֶשׁ. (כד) עַיִן תַּחַת עַיִן שֵׁן תַּחַת שֵׁן יָד תַּחַת יָד רֶגֶל תַּחַת רָגֶל. (כה) כְּוִיָּה תַּחַת כְּוִיָּה פֶּצַע תַּחַת פָּצַע חַבּוּרָה תַּחַת חַבּוּרָה.

(22) And if men strive together, and hurt a woman with child, so that her fruit depart, and yet no harm follow, he shall be surely fined, according as the woman’s husband shall lay upon him; and he shall pay as the judges determine. (23) But if any harm follow, then thou shalt give life for life, (24) eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot, (25) burning for burning, wound for wound, stripe for stripe.

וא"ל אנטונינוס לרבי נשמה מאימתי ניתנה באדם משעת פקידה או משעת יצירה א"ל משעת יצירה א"ל אפשר חתיכה של בשר עומדת שלשה ימים בלא מלח ואינה מסרחת אלא משעת פקידה אמר רבי דבר זה למדני אנטונינוס ומקרא מסייעו שנאמר (איוב י, יב) ופקודתך שמרה רוחי

Antoninus said to Rebbe At what point is the soul given to a human? Is it from the moment of decree [that such a child will exist], or from the moment of formation? He responded: "from the moment of formation." He replied, "is it possible that a piece of meat can last for three days without salt, and yet not become rotten? Rather it must be from the moment of decree." Rebbe said: "This thing that I learned from Antoninus, and there is a supporting verse: [Job 10] Your Providence has guarded my soul."

מתני' גהאשה שיצאה ליהרג אין ממתינין לה עד שתלד האשה שישבה על המשבר ממתינין לה עד שתלד האשה שנהרגה נהנין בשערה בהמה שנהרגה אסורה בהנאה: גמ' פשיטא גופה היא איצטריך ס"ד אמינא הואיל וכתיב (שמות כא, כב) כאשר ישית עליו בעל האשה ממונא דבעל הוא ולא ליפסדיה מיניה קמ"ל

Mishnah: If a woman is about to be executed, one does not wait for her until she gives birth. But if she had already sat on the birthstool, one waits for her until she gives birth. If a woman has been put to death one may use her hair; if an animal has been put to death it is forbidden to make any use of it.

Gemara: But that is self-evident, for it is her body! It is necessary to teach it, for one might have assumed since Scripture says: According as the woman's husband shall lay upon him, that it (the unborn child) is the husband's property, of which he should not be deprived, therefore we are informed (that it is not so).

(ו) האשה שהיא מקשה לילד, מחתכין את הולד במעיה ומוציאין אותו אברים אברים, מפני שחייה קודמין לחייו. יצא רבו, אין נוגעין בו, שאין דוחין נפש מפני נפש.

(6) A woman who was having trouble giving birth, they cut up the fetus inside her and take it out limb by limb, because her life comes before its life. If most of it had come out already they do not touch it because we do not push off one life for another.

Responsa Tzitz Eliezer 13:102

It is clear that in Jewish law an Israelite is not liable to capital punishment for feticide.... An Israelite woman was permitted to undergo a therapeutic abortion, even though her life was not at stake.... This permissive ruling applies even when there is no direct threat to the life of the mother, but merely a need to save her from great pain, which falls within the rubric of "great need." Now, is it possible to imagine a case in which there is more need, pain, and distress, than the present one, in which the mother is confronted by the [prospect of a] suffering child whose certain death is only a few years away and nothing can be done to save it?

7ז׳
1 א

הַטֻּמְאָה בַכֹּתֶל, וּמְקוֹמָהּ טֶפַח עַל טֶפַח עַל רוּם טֶפַח, כָּל הָעֲלִיּוֹת שֶׁעַל גַּבָּהּ, אֲפִלּוּ הֵן עֶשֶׂר, טְמֵאוֹת. הָיְתָה עֲלִיָּה אַחַת עַל גַּבֵּי שְׁנֵי בָתִּים, הִיא טְמֵאָה, וְכָל הָעֲלִיּוֹת שֶׁעַל גַּבָּהּ, טְהוֹרוֹת. כֹּתֶל שָׁנִית, טֻמְאָה בוֹקַעַת וְעוֹלָה, בּוֹקַעַת וְיוֹרָדֶת. נֶפֶשׁ אֲטוּמָה, הַנּוֹגֵעַ בָּהּ מִן הַצְּדָדִין, טָהוֹר, מִפְּנֵי שֶׁטֻּמְאָה בוֹקַעַת וְעוֹלָה, בּוֹקַעַת וְיוֹרָדֶת. אִם הָיָה מְקוֹם הַטֻּמְאָה טֶפַח עַל טֶפַח עַל רוּם טֶפַח, הַנּוֹגֵעַ בָּהּ מִכָּל מָקוֹם, טָמֵא, מִפְּנֵי שֶׁהִיא כְקֶבֶר סָתוּם. סָמַךְ לָהּ סֻכּוֹת, טְמֵאוֹת. רַבִּי יְהוּדָה מְטַהֵר:

If there is uncleanness in a wall, in a space of one cubic handbreadth, all upper stories above it, even if there are ten of them, are unclean. If there was a single upper story [built] over two houses, that one becomes unclean but all upper stories above it remain clean. [In a] beach- wall, uncleanness cleaves upwards and downward. [With regard to] a solid tomb monument, a person who touches it from the side remains clean, since [its] uncleanness cleaves upwards and downwards. But if there was a [free] space of a cubic handbreadth in the place where the uncleanness was, a person touching it anywhere becomes unclean, because it is like a closed grave. If he supported sukkot on [the monument] they become unclean. Rabbi Judah declares them clean.

2 ב

כָּל שִׁפּוּעֵי אֹהָלִין, כָּאֹהָלִין. אֹהֶל שֶׁהוּא שׁוֹפֵעַ וְיוֹרֵד, וְכָלֶה עַד כְּאֶצְבַּע, טֻמְאָה בָאֹהֶל, כֵּלִים שֶׁתַּחַת הַשִּׁפּוּעַ, טְמֵאִים. טֻמְאָה תַחַת הַשִּׁפּוּעַ, כֵּלִים שֶׁבָּאֹהֶל, טְמֵאִין. טֻמְאָה מִתּוֹכוֹ, הַנּוֹגֵעַ בּוֹ מִתּוֹכוֹ, טָמֵא טֻמְאַת שִׁבְעָה. וּמֵאֲחוֹרָיו, טָמֵא טֻמְאַת עָרֶב. טֻמְאָה מֵאֲחוֹרָיו, הַנּוֹגֵעַ בּוֹ מֵאֲחוֹרָיו, טָמֵא טֻמְאַת שִׁבְעָה. מִתּוֹכוֹ, טָמֵא טֻמְאַת עָרֶב. כַּחֲצִי זַיִת מִתּוֹכוֹ וְכַחֲצִי זַיִת מֵאֲחוֹרָיו, הַנּוֹגֵעַ בּוֹ, בֵּין מִתּוֹכוֹ בֵּין מֵאֲחוֹרָיו, טָמֵא טֻמְאַת עָרֶב. מִקְצָתוֹ מְרֻדָּד עַל הָאָרֶץ, טֻמְאָה תַחְתָּיו אוֹ עַל גַּבָּיו, טֻמְאָה בוֹקַעַת וְעוֹלָה, בּוֹקַעַת וְיוֹרָדֶת. אֹהֶל שֶׁהוּא נָטוּי בָּעֲלִיָּה, מִקְצָתוֹ מְרֻדָּד עַל הָאֲרֻבָּה שֶׁבֵּין בַּיִת לָעֲלִיָּה, רַבִּי יוֹסֵי אוֹמֵר, מַצִּיל. רַבִּי שִׁמְעוֹן אוֹמֵר, אֵינוֹ מַצִּיל, עַד שֶׁיְּהֵא נָטוּי כִּנְטִיַּת הָאֹהֶל:

All sloping [parts] of ‘tents’ are reckoned like ‘tents.' A ‘tent’ [whose sides] sloped downwards and finished off one fingerbreadth [from the ground]: If there is uncleanness in the ‘tent’, vessels beneath the slope become unclean. If there is uncleanness beneath the slope, vessels in the ‘tent’ become unclean. If there is uncleanness within, a person who touches [the tent] from the inside acquires a seven [days’] defilement, but from the outside, a defilement [lasting till] evening. If there had been uncleanness outside, a person who touches the ‘tent’ from the outside acquires a seven [days’] defilement, but from the inside, a defilement [lasting till] evening. If there was [a portion of uncleanness] the size of half an olive [touching it] from inside and half an olive from the outside, a person who touches [the ‘tent’] either from within or without acquires a defilement [lasting till] evening. If a part [of the ‘tent’ side] trailed along the ground, when there is uncleanness beneath or above [this part], the uncleanness cleaves upwards and downwards. [In the case of] a ‘tent’ erected in an upper story, with a portion [of its side] trailing over the hatch between the house and the upper story: Rabbi Yose says it does protect. Rabbi Shimon says: it does not protect unless it put up in the usual manner of erecting tents.

3 ג

הַמֵּת בַּבַּיִת וּבוֹ פְתָחִין הַרְבֵּה, כֻּלָּן טְמֵאִין. נִפְתַּח אַחַד מֵהֶן, הוּא טָמֵא וְכֻלָּן טְהוֹרִים. חָשַׁב לְהוֹצִיאוֹ בְאַחַד מֵהֶן, אוֹ בְחַלּוֹן שֶׁהוּא אַרְבָּעָה עַל אַרְבָּעָה טְפָחִים, הִצִּיל עַל כָּל הַפְּתָחִים. בֵּית שַׁמַּאי אוֹמְרִים, יַחְשֹׁב עַד שֶׁלֹּא יָמוּת הַמֵּת. בֵּית הִלֵּל אוֹמְרִים, אַף מִשֶּׁמֵּת. הָיָה סָתוּם וְנִמְלַךְ לְפָתְחוֹ, בֵּית שַׁמַּאי אוֹמְרִים, כְּשֶׁיִּפְתַּח אַרְבָּעָה טְפָחִים. וּבֵית הִלֵּל אוֹמְרִים, כְּשֶׁיַּתְחִיל. וּמוֹדִים בְּפוֹתֵחַ בַּתְּחִלָּה, שֶׁיִּפְתַּח אַרְבָּעָה טְפָחִים:

If a corpse is in a house in which there are many doors, they all become unclean. If one of them was opened, that one becomes unclean but all the rest remain clean. If he intended to carry out the corpse through one of them or through a window of four hand breadths square, he protects all the other doors. Bet Shammai says: the intention must have been formed before the person died. Bet Hillel say: even after he died. If [a door] was blocked up and it was decided to open it: Bet Shammai says: [it is effective] as soon he opens a [a space] four handbreadths square. Bet Hillel says: as soon as [the process] has begun. They agree, however, that when making an opening for the first time, four handbreadths must be opened up.

4 ד

הָאִשָּׁה שֶׁהִיא מַקְשָׁה לֵילֵד וְהוֹצִיאוּהָ מִבַּיִת לְבַיִת, הָרִאשׁוֹן טָמֵא בְסָפֵק, וְהַשֵּׁנִי בְּוַדָּאי. אָמַר רַבִּי יְהוּדָה, אֵימָתַי, בִּזְמַן שֶׁהִיא נִטֶּלֶת בַּגַּפַּיִם. אֲבָל אִם הָיְתָה מְהַלֶּכֶת, הָרִאשׁוֹן טָהוֹר, שֶׁמִּשֶּׁנִּפְתַּח הַקֶּבֶר אֵין פְּנַאי לְהַלֵּךְ. אֵין לַנְּפָלִים פְּתִיחַת הַקֶּבֶר, עַד שֶׁיַּעְגִּילוּ רֹאשׁ כְּפִיקָה:

If a woman was having great difficulty giving birth and they carried her out from one house to another, the first house is doubtfully unclean and the second is certainly unclean. Rabbi Judah said: When is this so? When she is carried out [supported] by the armpits, but if she was able to walk, the first house remains clean, for after the "tomb" has been opened there is no possibility of walking, For stillborn children are not [deemed to have] opened the "tomb" until they present a head rounded like a spindle-knob.

5 ה

יָצָא הָרִאשׁוֹן מֵת וְהַשֵּׁנִי חַי, טָהוֹר. הָרִאשׁוֹן חַי וְהַשֵּׁנִי מֵת, טָמֵא. רַבִּי מֵאִיר אוֹמֵר, בְּשָׁפִיר אֶחָד, טָמֵא. בִּשְׁנֵי שְׁפִירִים, טָהוֹר:

If [at the birth of twins] the first came out dead and the second came out alive, the [live one] is clean. If the first was alive and the second dead, the [live child] is unclean. Rabbi Meir says: if they were in one sac, [the live child] is unclean, but if there were two sacs, it remains clean.

6 ו

הָאִשָּׁה שֶׁהִיא מַקְשָׁה לֵילֵד, מְחַתְּכִין אֶת הַוָּלָד בְּמֵעֶיהָ וּמוֹצִיאִין אוֹתוֹ אֵבָרִים אֵבָרִים, מִפְּנֵי שֶׁחַיֶּיהָ קוֹדְמִין לְחַיָּיו. יָצָא רֻבּוֹ, אֵין נוֹגְעִין בּוֹ, שֶׁאֵין דּוֹחִין נֶפֶשׁ מִפְּנֵי נָפֶשׁ:

If a woman is having trouble giving birth, they cut up the child in her womb and brings it forth limb by limb, because her life comes before the life of [the child]. But if the greater part has come out, one may not touch it, for one may not set aside one person's life for that of another.