Touro Law Review


Adena Berkowitz


Since the Supreme Court grounded the right to an abortion in a constitutional right to privacy, legal and societal debate has continued around the status of a fetus in utero, a woman’s countervailing claims, and the interests of states and society as a whole. As American courts have faced an issue that intertwines legal, moral, and philosophical questions, so too the halakhic process confronts analogous complexities. The main line of Jewish tradition makes a much-needed contribution to the discussion of abortion. Without sharing the view that the fetus is from conception fully a person, it stops short of a complete dismissal of the value problem in destroying a fetus. However, whatever value attaches to “potential life,” the primary concern lies with the woman. She exists. Her voice and her needs must be heard. And her life, (no matter how slim her chances of survival), health, and mental well-being come first.