As we previously explained (see here) the fact that a case is not dealt with in Talmudic and early Rabbinic sources, virtually warrants a lack of consensus among modern rabbis.
Contemporary Rabbis differ in their views on to the classification of abortion as murder, mutilation, etc. (see here) and those views will determine their opinion in cases where a congenital disorder was detected and the parents are faced with the decision of interrupting the pregnancy. We are talking about diseases such as Tay-Sachs, Down syndrome and others . Today, we will see that the opinion of the rabbis will also depend on the stage of the pregnancy. The more advanced the pregnancy the more the rabbis will be inclined to forbid the interruption of the pregnancy, even if a congenital disorder is found.
I will present today three main opinions on this subject.
For the first opinion, during the first forty days we are not dealing with a fetus but with an embryo (no facial features, no capability of motion, etc). Accordingly, abortion will not be prohibited within the first forty days if a congenital disease is detected, (Rabbi M. Feinstein).
For the second opinion the boundary is the end of the third month, when pregnancy begins to be visible. Before that the fetus is still viewed as an integral part of its mother's body. According to this opinion, if a congenital disease is detected during the first three months, it will be permitted to interrupt pregnancy (Rabbi O. Yosef).
For a third opinion the deadline is the seventh month. For this view, the determining factor is not the process of the embryo becoming a fetus or its visible presence. Rather, the determining factor is the fetus vital dependence on its mother. Since normally only after seven months of pregnancy the fetus might live outside its mother body, before the seventh month, it is still considered as part of its mother. In these extreme circumstances therefore, interrupting the pregnancy will be permitted (Rabbi E. Waldenberg). After the seventh month, abortion will be authorized only if giving birth will endanger the life of the mother.
(See Penine Halakha liqutim B, 258-259)
IN THIS PARTICULAR AND DELICATE SUBJECT, I MUST ASK THE READER TO CONSIDER THIS INFORMATION EXCLUSIVELY AS EDUCATIONAL MATERIAL. IF chas veshalom A DECISION NEEDS TO BE MADE, THE COUPLE SHOULD CONSULT WITH THEIR RABBI.
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TWO VERSIONS OF LEKHA DODI