Is there ever a point of emotional instability beyond which a women may have an abortion?

I know all cases are different but here are some possible examples:

A) she struggles too much with the number of kids she has already and this one was a 'mistake' and she now has regular panic attacks,

B) she is told during pregnancy that there's a small chance that the baby will be deformed in some way leading to severe anxiety,

C) she is very young and cant cope with thinking that she wont be able to complete an education and 'doom' her life leading to severe depression

D) a woman gets raped and can't cope with the thought of baring a child of her rapist, etc.

Is there ever an emotional point beyond which the pregnancy can be terminated? And does it depend on how far along she is in the pregnancy in terms of being 'מקיל' or 'מחמיר' to abort? If the baby is viable do we disregard the woman's mental health despite it being possible that her life could be 'emotionally ruined' and save the baby, or not?

I'm interested if there are these considerations in 'older' sources; most of the room for leniency that I've seen are based on more modern sources.

  • Some of these posts are specific to certain situations, do not consider emtional aspect explicity and dont bring arguments from sources. I'm asking whether there are rules that govern emotional considerations for abortion in general e.g. rape or morning after pill are specific cases. My question is broadly applicative, unlike the others and is looking for older sources that are (presumably) the basis of contemporary halachic decisions on this subject
    – bondonk
    Feb 22 '17 at 22:51
  • I don't see why judaism.stackexchange.com/q/39015/759 isn't a duplicate. Any complete answer to that will surely answer this (rape is actually explicitly discussed in the answer there). I also don't know why this is different from any other factor. The women isn't more or less obligated in the laws of murder/damages/etc. which are involved in abortion than anyone else.
    – Double AA
    Feb 22 '17 at 22:54
  • That seems like a subset of the second question I linked to. You can probably offer a bounty on it and specify that you want that variable discussed, but AFAIK since your question is included in it, it is a dupe. | Note that the first question I liked to asks "I know that abortion is permissible if physical health of the mother could be compromised, but what about the emotional health of the mother",
    – mevaqesh
    Feb 22 '17 at 23:08

Although especially these extremely sensitive issues must be discussed with one's personal Rav, some mekoros on the topic are discussed here:

A question arises if the mother will experience severe mental distress if the baby is born. Rabbi Waldenberg holds that abortion is not murder at all, and that mental distress can be equated with physical pain. Therefore, abortion would be allowed if one’s rabbi determines that the mental stress is the same as the physical would be. [Tzitz Eliezer 13:102; 14:101]

Rabbi Unterman takes a similar approach to the issue. Rabbi Unterman does believe that abortion is considered akin to murder, and therefore cannot be allowed in cases of mental anguish. However, if the psychological distress that the mother would feel would cause suicidal tendencies, Rabbi Unterman would permit abortion. [“The Law of Pikkuah Nefesh and Its definition” in HaTorah V’HaM’dinah, IV (1952) 22 - 29 as cited in David Feldman, Birth Control In Jewish Law. Rabbi Unterman is basing his ruling on a ruling by a case where a where a rabbi was asked if a man could have non kosher soup to prevent him from going insane. Rabbi Israel Meir Mizrachi ruled that serious danger to one’s mental health is the same as a risk to one’s physical health. Resp. Pri HaAretz, Vol III (Jerusalem, 1899), Y.D., No. 2. This ruling was also applied to a specific situation that dealt with birth control, a situation more similar to abortion than non kosher soup. Resp. Binyan David, No. 68; Minhat Yitzchak, Vol. I, No. 115; and Igg’rot Mosheh, E.H., No. 65, would allow the contraceptive mokh when pregnancy would create a serious mental-health risk as cited in David Feldman, Birth Control In Jewish Law]

  • This question has been marked a duplicate. You might want to move your answer over to the original question
    – MTL
    Feb 23 '17 at 0:12

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .