The Rabbis


Talmud Sanhedrin 57b: 

"A heathen is executed..for the murder of an embryo..Because it is written, Whoso sheddeth the blood of man within [another] man, shall his blood be shed. What is a man within another man? An embryo in his mother's womb."


Rabbi Ahron Soloveichik 

After New York State Legalized Abortion in 1970:

"Sometimes we must protest under sacred and noble causes. It bleeds my heart that none of the Jewish organizations in New York protested......We are more guilty than any other people; we are more ashamed than any other generation." 

Read Rabbi Soloveichik's complete statement.

The Torah is compared to the sneh, the Burning Bush, because “fire gives heat, light and devours fuel, but the light of Torah must only give warmth and light, love and hope; it must never be used to destroy or kill. This is not Torah; it is a perversion of Torah.” 

Rabbi Ahron Soloveichik referred to second-trimester abortion as shefichut damim and argued:

The third trimester is arbitrary. It is grounded in a desire to adjust HaKadosh Baruch Hu to one's capricious desires. It is paganism...They think that a woman in the sixth month of pregnancy, since she is before the third trimester, her right to liberty takes precedence over the fetus's rough to life. That is moral values? That is paganism. That is the philosophy that motivates the mechashefim and the pagans. Read.


Rav Joseph B. Soloveitchik zt”l

“I consider the society of today as insane…I read from the press that in Eretz Yisrael they permit abortions now! Sapir comes to the US and asks that 60,000 boys and girls should leave the US and settle in Eretz Yisrael. 

When a child is born, it’s also immigration to Eretz Yisrael, and yet you murder the children.”

Rav Soloveitchik then predicted:

“And if you kill the fetus, a time will come when even infants will be killed…The mother will get frightened after the baby will be born…and the doctor will say her life depends upon the murder of the baby. And you have a word, mental hygiene, whatever you want you can subsume under mental hygiene…And there is now a tendency for rabbis in the US to march along with society, otherwise they’ll be looked upon as reactionaries.” Read

In 1975, Rabbi Joseph Ber Soloveitchik  said: “to me it is something vulgar, this clamor of the liberals that abortion be permitted.” He wrote on corresponding Noahide themes, “Our task was and still is to teach the Torah to mankind, to influence the non-Jewish world…. 

In a word, we are to teach the world the seven mitzvot that are binding on every human being.” Read.


Rabbi David Novak

The Sanctity of Human Life. P 68

At this point I would ask my fellow Jewish ethicists, especially the traditionalists ones: Does our reverence for human life, even the miniscule human life of the newly conceived embryo, with what the tradition calls human dignity ( kvod ha-beriyot )?  Surely we are not obligated  or even permitted to kill a human life, however prehuman it looks, for the sake of someone else’s therapeutic needs - that is for the sake of somebody to whose life the embryo is not a direct threat.  We certainly are not obligated or even permitted to kill an embryo for the more indirect benefit of the advancement of possible helpful scientific information.  I believe that we are neither obligated nor permitted to do so.  I believe that we are prohibited from doing so.  We can discover that prohibition ( issur )  philosophy and thus argue it to anyone, anywhere, at any time.  The argument need not be confined to persons who are required to live according to our own moral theology, although our moral theology certainly can confirm it.




That position is fully consistent with Maimonides’ emphasis on how important advances in scientific knowledge are for our moral deliberations about universal human phenomena.  Thus, the discovery of DNA and when it first emerges in a human being should change our thinking about the beginning of human life in the same way that the discovery that babies born in the eight month of pregnancy are viable ( ben qayyama ) changed our thinking about early infant life, even though in the days of the Talmud people believed that they were not viable. Jews are bound by halakhic norms.  With regard to questions of human life and death, however, they are not bound to some of their applications that are based on what we now know to have been inaccurate, outdated science.  The science of the Talmud has been superseded by more current science, which itself might be superseded in the future.


Rav Moshe Feinstein

(Igros Moshe, Choshen Mishpat 2:73:8) 

"Not only are Jews prohibited from having an abortion (except in the most extreme circumstances), but they are prohibited from assisting non-Jews from having an abortion too. According to halacha, abortion is prohibited for non-Jews; it’s actually a capital crime. A Jewish doctor may not perform an abortion even if it would result in antipathy towards Jews."

 In responsum 69, Rav Moshe not only categorizes abortion as bloodshed; he takes the rare step of unequivocally warning against relying on an erroneous heter for aborting Down Syndrome babies.


Rabbi J. David Bleich

Contemporary Halakhic Problems, Vol.1

"A Jew is governed by such reverence for life that he trembles lest he tamper unmindfully with the greatest of all divine gifts, the bestowal or withholding of which is the prerogative of God alone. Although he be master over all within the world, there remain areas where man must fear to tread, acknowledging the limits of his sovereignty and the limitations of his understanding. In the unborn child lies the mystery and enigma of existence. Confronted by the miracle of life itself, man can only draw back in silence before the wonder of the Lord."


Rav Yaakov Kamenetsky

referred "abortion is murder and today we are desensitized to (this kind of) murder because of its frequency"

 (1970 Shabbos Shuvah derashah)


Rabbi Dr. Moshe Tendler

Jewish Bioethics. p 121.

“Abortion is included in the Noachidic prohibition of murder,” Read


Rabbi Moses ben Maimon 

(Maimonides or Rambam)

Guide for the Perplexed 1:31

"Men like the opinions to which they have been accustomed from their youth; they defend them, and shun contrary views: and this is one of the things that prevents men from finding truth, for they cling to the opinions of habit."

Mishneh Torah 

The definition of murder according to the Noahide Laws includes a person who kills "even one unborn in the womb of its mother," and adds that such a person is liable for the death penalty.


Lord Rabbi Jonathan Sacks 

Former Chief Rabbi of Great Britain

To be a Jew is to be willing to challenge the prevailing consensus. Power allows us to rule over others without their consent. As the Greek historian Thucydides put it: "The strong do what they wish and the weak suffer what they must." Judaism is a sustained critique of power. That is the conclusion I have reached after a lifetime of studying our sacred texts. It is about how a nation can be formed on the basis of shared commitment and collective responsibility. It is about how to construct a society that honors the human person as the image and likeness of God. It is about a vision, never fully realized but never abandoned, of a world based on justice and compassion, in which "They will neither harm nor destroy on all my holy mountain, for the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the Lord  as the waters cover the sea.” (Isaiah 11:9)


Rabbi Ephraim Buchwald

“There is a Holocaust taking place in America right now. We can't hear it, because there are no barking dogs; we can't see it, because there are no goose-stepping Nazi soldiers and no concentration camps; we can't smell it because there are no gas chambers. But the net result is exactly the same ... if we fail to act now ... the "silent Holocaust" will have done its job. Hitler will have emerged victorious.”


Rabbi Isaac Halevi Herzog

1st Chief Rabbi of Israel 

In 1942 Rabbi Herzog wrote about abortion in Israel vis-a-vis the slaughter of children in the Holocaust: 

“It is a hideous sin, a double sin, against the laws of our holy Torah and against the future of our Jewish nation. It is a grave sin against the laws of our sacred Torah, which is a Torah of life, which desires life and the multiplication of life. Read


Rabbi Norman Lamm

Ret Chancellor of Yeshiva University

“The freedom of parents to crush prenatal life, which now seems to be in vogue, will eventually lead to utter destruction,” Rabbi Norman Lamm stated in 1970, “because it is only a small leap of logic from feoticide to infanticide, to getting rid of infants who may not fulfill our ideals of mental and physical health, or, eventually, ethnic and genetic respectability.”

Rabbi Lamm reiterated those themes in a sermon from 1976: “Never, never, must we allow this desacralization of life — whether in the form of benevolent euthanasia or free and easy abortions … or any of the other manifestations of this fundamental antagonism to life — to influence us.” Read.


Rabbi Shimon Cowen

The Theory and Practice of Universal Ethics — The Noahide Laws

“The opposition of Noahide law to the abortion of an unborn life, except in very special circumstances, embodies one of the deepest norms of human society, the protection of life.” 

In other words, Torah forbids abortion on demand, whether by a Jew or non-Jew. The ‘pragmatic’ consideration that if we insist on this, another purported ‘religious’ position, which does not allow the exceptions provided by Noahide law, could also prevail, in fact panders to moral relativism. It supports the extension of this global mass phenomenon of killing, both morally wrong itself and with all kinds of further corrosive consequences for society.  So too, it is spurious to allow a person a so-called "civil liberty" to abort. There is no such liberty to kill, in the sights of Noahide law. Read


Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson

Advising an expectant mother in 1971, Rabbi Schneerson (the Lubavitcher Rebbe) wrote, “Should there be those who desire to persuade [you] that — God forbid — you perform an abortion: Tell them that this constitutes deliberate murder of a creature who is as yet unable to protect himself from those who seek to murder him.Read


Rabbi Aharon Lichtenstein

“Abortion on demand is a moral abomination, whoever the fetus may be. We have much to learn from the late Lubavitcher Rebbe, who took up the cudgels for a modicum of prayer in the public schools. Unquestionably, we shall be far more concerned if and when our own are involved. Insouciance is, however, out of the question.” Read


Rabbi Avigdor Miller

Their blood cries out from the earth,” Rabbi Miller said of Israel’s abortions. Read


Rabbi Immanuel Jakoboviits

Abortion in Israel is “mass slaughter of the innocents … posing a security problem graver than any threats of war or terror. " Read


 (Rabbi Eliezer Papo)

The Pele Yo'es

Advice to someone who wishes his sons to become Talmidei Hakhamim (Torah Scholars). "You should not wait till they are born and start growing up. Rather, both father and mother should pray constantly to G-d for this, before the pregnancy, during the pregnancy and after the child is born. They should make donations to Talmidei Hakhamim and request them to pray for their children. During the pregnancy, the mother should make every effort to hear the study of Torah, and after the child is born, she should take him to places of Torah study." We learn this from the mother of Ribbi Yehoshua Ben Hananya, who during her pregnancy, would go from one Beth Midrash (study hall), to another, to hear words of Torah and ask the Hakhamim to pray that her son would be very wise. 


Rabbenu Bahya 

on the Torah, Parashath Tazria

There are three stages in a man's life: (a) in the womb, (b) in this world 

and (c) in the world to come.

When the child is in the mother's womb all his needs are met. If it were up to him, he would remain there forever. When he leaves the womb it is because he has no choice in the matter. In truth, whatever takes place in the womb is wondrous and beyond our comprehension, such as how the infant exists in that environment, and what it is that forces him, at the appropriate time, to emerge from there.

Just as the understanding of the workings of this phenomenon is hidden from us, so too the work of G-d, in general, is hidden from our comprehension and is wondrous. The fact that we cannot comprehend it should not prevent us, however, from appreciating and seeing the hand of G-d and the wonders of His creation, every day, as we go about our daily lives.


Zohar, Shemot 3b "For There are three [persons] who drive away God's presence from the world, making it impossible for the Holy One, Blessed be He, to fix His abode in the universe and causing prayer to be unanswered.....

[The third is ] he who causes the fetus to be destroyed in the womb, for he destroys the artifice of the Holy One, blessed be He, and His workmanship…For these abominations the Spirit of Holiness weeps. (Zohar, Shemot 3b) .