Take the 2-minute tour ×
Mi Yodeya is a question and answer site for those who base their lives on Jewish law and tradition and anyone interested in learning more. It's 100% free, no registration required.

Is the morning-after pill considered an abortion in Halachic terms or does it have another status, and, if the latter, may it be used?

share|improve this question
4  
@whoever-flagged-to-close-as-psak-seeking - do you want to close every halacha question on this site? –  YEZ Sep 29 at 20:52

2 Answers 2

up vote 7 down vote accepted

As heard from Rabbi Weiner, a student of Rabbi Elyashiv and a bio-halachist:

When the morning-after pill is administered, we do not know if there is an embryo present. Hence it is permissible in the case of a rape. (He wouldn't go so far as to give it carte blanche for, say, the happily-married couple who are trying to space their pregnancies a bit better.)

share|improve this answer
2  
I heard it from Rabbi Weiner directly at a medical halacha/ethics seminar in ~2005. Not sure if there's mp3 or txt or the like. –  Shalom Sep 4 '11 at 9:06
1  
Since no one has any business deciding halachah from this site: With a 39k reputation, I think Shalom's report of a Posek's position is sufficient for our purposes. :) –  Yirmeyahu Feb 20 '12 at 7:15
3  
I sure hope we did't start judging halachic qualification based on a SE rating... –  Mbrevda Feb 20 '12 at 14:30
1  
Who said anything about judging halachic qualification. –  Yirmeyahu Feb 20 '12 at 15:17
2  
@Yirmeyahu ... which is, indeed, valuable for the sake of discussion, though documentary evidence would be more valuable, partly because it can be verified independently and investigated for more detail. Your points that "no one has any business deciding halachah from this site" and that "halachic qualification" has no relevance to user accounts here are exactly right. –  Isaac Moses Feb 20 '12 at 16:17

"The right to life is a basic halachic right beginning from the 40th day after conception.

According to this understanding, that "life" begins 40 days after conception, taking a pill "the morning after", which prevents embryo attachment to the uterus, would not be halachically considered an abortion.

There may be other reasons why it shouldn't be relied on as a primary method of birth control, but it seems from these sources that the heter to use this pill would extend beyond cases of rape.

Even if a young observant teenage girl made a mistake and had unprotected sex willingly, taking this pill is a far better option than forcing her to endure the humiliation of a teenage pregnancy. While such things may be relatively normal in the secular world, if a teenage girl in a frum community got pregnant, it would embarrass her family, deny her any decent shidduch in the future, and effectively ban her from all aspects of community participation.

I'm NOT saying that the consequences above are a good enough reason to have an ABORTION. They aren't. However, since taking the morning after pill is not an abortion, the above consequences are more than enough of a heter to use it.

share|improve this answer
2  
@Mbrevda, I'm not sure if your comment is meant sarcastically or not. If it is, I'd point out that there are many situations in which halacha on the books and individual responsa explicitly consider things like people's future ability to marry and participate in the community. One big example would be the lengths we go to to avoid declaring someone a mamzer. –  Isaac Moses Feb 20 '12 at 16:20
1  
@IsaacMoses I also wasn't clear on the intent of that comment, so I didn't address it. I stated explicitly in my answer that embarrassment is not a heter to have an abortion. It's possible that a woman would not need any heter at all to take this pill, since there doesn't seem to be an actual issur involved. Nonetheless, some may say it's "not good middos" or whatever. If so, avoiding embarrassment and lifelong single status is more than enough to do something that's' "not good middos". –  user1095 Feb 20 '12 at 16:34
2  
"The right to life is a basic halachic right beginning from the 40th day after conception." I've never heard of this right. Can you point to it in any classical source? I know of a prohibition on taking (or causing cessation of) life, but I've never heard of a right of someone who has life to continue it. If such a right were to exist, it seems as though God, who binds himself, so to speak, by his own promises to do good, would also bind himself to honoring this right, so would never take a life, which of course is not the case. Again: any classical source? Or any source besides that Web page? –  msh210 Feb 20 '12 at 18:23
1  
@msh210 I think that the source I brought was framing the halachic attitude towards abortion in the language of the American political debate on abortion. "Right to life" is just a contemporary political way of saying that the entity in question cannot morally be killed. Versus an animal, which can be killed for its meat, its hide, for sport (in Western morality but not halacha), if it gets too old and doesn't have a good quality of life, etc. –  user1095 Feb 20 '12 at 19:23
1  
@Mbrevda mistake = moral error. Let's say an otherwise observant Jew gives into temptation one time, and eats a cheeseburger. Will you excommunicate him from your community? Will you insist that nobody ever speak to him again? Will you ruin his life because he made one mistake? For the third time, I am NOT advocating setting aside a real issur. I am merely saying that, in this limited case of a morning-after pill, no real issur exists. The mitigating factors are only mitigating concern over communal policy, not halacha. –  user1095 Feb 21 '12 at 11:31

Your Answer

 
discard

By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.