I know that abortion is permissible if physical health of the mother could be compromised, but what about the emotional health of the mother (or the father for that matter) - if a couple sees divorce as a very real option, could an abortion be permissible?

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    This is an extremely sensitive question that requires guidance from an actual rabbi. (Please consult your local Orthodox rabbi). Because this seems like it may be a practical question, I'm hesitant to post a related question. I don't want someone to act on the basis of incomplete information. Nonetheless, here is the question.
    – Fred
    Jul 6, 2014 at 22:43
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    Are you worried about the emotional health of the parents or the baby
    – Double AA
    Jul 7, 2014 at 2:18
  • isn't this a dupe of judaism.stackexchange.com/q/39015/759 ? a complete answer to that question would certainly touch on emotional health as a factor
    – Double AA
    Jan 10, 2017 at 22:00
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    Are you asking about having an abortion to prevent a divorce (if, e.g., they're arguing over the pregnancy), or are you asking about having an abortion because you're getting divorced (so there won't be an intact family for the child)? Feb 24, 2017 at 1:00
  • related: ykr.org.il/modules/Ask/answer/12913.
    – mevaqesh
    Feb 24, 2017 at 22:20

2 Answers 2


Getting divorced would NOT serve as any halachic basis for an abortion.

This is evident from the a Teshuvah in Choshen Mishpat (Siman 69) (Volume 7, page 300) of "Igros Moshe", where Rav Moshe Feinstein, zt"l, wrote that abortion is prohibited but didn't mention an exception for someone getting divorced. In that Teshuvah Rav Moshe wrote about how terrible abortion is and called it retzicha (murder) starting at 40 days (or 41 days), and certainly prohibited before, as well. Had there been any halachic basis for such an exception (such as exceptions made when the only way to save the mother's life is by doing so) he would have mentioned them. Rav Moshe explicitly states that the Tzitz Eliezer was incorrect with his leniencies regarding abortion based on the misinterpretation of the sources he used to support himself.

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    I think you need to note the Tzitz Eliezer did not accept r Moshes critique. Right now it looks like halakha kevatrai follows r Moshe. It's fair to note a real critique but you should present both sides. This didn't end with a proven mistake and the Tzitz Eliezer being rejected. This ended with a bona fide machloket between gedolim.
    – Double AA
    Feb 24, 2017 at 20:04
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    Did the Tzitz Eliezer stop issuing his ruling? Did he publish a retraction? Did he read r Moshes responsum? You know the answers. He disagreed.
    – Double AA
    Feb 24, 2017 at 20:07
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    If people wish to research online for an organization that can help support them through their pregnancy they can search the internet for legitimate Jewish organizations that help (EFRAT, Just One Life...) or if they aren't in such a location, for other organizations. Feb 24, 2017 at 20:13
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    The mention of the Tzitz Eliezer in the present version of this answer doesn't make sense to me, since it refers to the T"E's position but doesn't say what it was. I'd recommend either a) removing the last line and just letting this answer be about RMF's position, or b) editing in a full treatment of the T"E's position and, crucially, whether it may provide for special dispensation in case of divorce.
    – Isaac Moses
    Feb 24, 2017 at 20:32
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    related: ykr.org.il/modules/Ask/answer/12913.
    – mevaqesh
    Feb 24, 2017 at 22:20

In very, very broad terms -- some authorities will allow an early abortion to prevent significant anguish. (There's an mp3 of Rabbi Yona Reiss mentioning this with regards to a pregnancy found to have severe developmental challenges, if we think it will destroy the lives of this couple, according to some opinions.)

While it's ideal for most children to be raised by a father and mother as a family, people can manage all sorts of things. As difficult as single parenting or joint custody can be, I don't think the average case of "this couple is divorcing" (assuming that there will be some sort of competent parental figure) approaches anywhere near the hardship that would cause some rabbis to allow an abortion -- or to put it better, it's a terribly difficult situation, but I don't see how [in the general case] an abortion would really fix it.

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