Are non-Jews permitted to have abortions? (Consider the gemara in Sanhedrin 57b where "a baraita brings in the name of Rabbi Yishmael that a Ben Noach gets capital punishment if he intentionally causes an abortion, which he derives from a pasuk. Rashi takes the simple understanding of the gemara that this prohibition applies only to a non-Jew, whereas for a Jew the prohibition of murder only applies to a baby once he/she is born.")

Edited in response to msh210's comment: I'd be interested in knowing both whether non-Jews may have abortions and, perhaps more interestingly, whether they may perform them (see the source above). Would there be any special considerations for a non-Jew performing an abortion on a Jew?

  • So the g'mara says a gentile may not perform an abortion, and you're asking whether she may get one. Is that a correct reading of the question?
    – msh210
    Commented Apr 4, 2012 at 6:19
  • Aha, good point. I added to my question
    – SAH
    Commented Apr 4, 2012 at 14:53
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    Start here and read the next ~20 posts for a thourgh halachic analisis rationalistmedicalhalacha.blogspot.com/2010/12/… Commented Feb 26, 2017 at 18:18
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    If you are quoting something, you need to indicate where you are quoting it from. See meta.judaism.stackexchange.com/a/76/759
    – Double AA
    Commented Feb 27, 2017 at 16:02

2 Answers 2


Are non-Jews permitted to have abortions? According to Sefer Sheva Mitzvot Hashem only if a noahide woman is in risk of dying in childbirth (due to her fetus). The base for this is Rambam in Rotseach u'Shmirat Nefesh, Perek alef Halacha 9 which reads:

לפיכך הורו חכמים שהעוברה שהיא מקשה לילד--מותר לחתוך העובר במעיה, בין בסם בין ביד: מפני שהוא כרודף אחריה להורגה. ואם משהוציא ראשו, אין נוגעין בו, שאין דוחין נפש מפני נפש, וזה הוא טבעו של עולם.

Regarding if they are permited to perform abortions, again, only if the main intention is to save the mother (because it is as if the fetus is persuing her to kill her).

  • Is there a practical difference between a Noahide and a non-Jew regarding this? I see you are using them interchangeably.
    – Rardal
    Commented Apr 26 at 23:28

Are you talking about Genesis 9:6? The re-reading of the verse disregards the sentence structure established by the ta'amim. Initially, it says he who spills the blood of man, by man shall his blood be spilled. It is re-read to say he who spills the blood of man in a man. What is a person in a person? A fetus inside its mother. With Hebrew grammatical prefix rules, this is an acceptable way to read the verse. However, this is contrasted to a pasook in Parshat Mishpatim that says someone who causes a pregnant lady to miscarry is required to pay her money for the damages done to her. Genesis is for Gentiles because it is before Mount Sinai, and Mishpatim is for Jews because it is after Mount Sinai. Seems like the halacha is more strict for Gentiles in this instance than it is for Jews.

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    By the way, does anyone know why Benei Noach are obligated in their Seven Mitzvot if they never said Na'aseh veNishma? Commented Apr 4, 2012 at 6:52
  • Re: your question in the above comment, ask it as a separate question.
    – Seth J
    Commented Apr 4, 2012 at 19:01
  • @SethJ - Thanks for the recommendation. Done. Commented Apr 11, 2012 at 3:58
  • @Adam Mosheh: What is there in that pasuk in Parshat Mishpatim that suggests miscarriage (the fetus dies) versus pre-mature delivery?
    – user2088
    Commented Dec 28, 2012 at 23:35
  • @H3br3wHamm3r81 - I'm not sure exactly what you are asking. Can you clarify what you are trying to ask? Commented Dec 31, 2012 at 19:34

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