Silent wound: a time to heal Jewish hearts

A contentious worldwide debate intensified with the Supreme Court’s ruling on Dobbs v. Jackson. This challenged an alleged constitutional right to abortion, overturned the landmark decision Roe v. Wade, and returned abortion policy to the states’ jurisdiction. Surrounding this milestone, leaders and laypersons across Jewish circles have asserted differences on “the Jewish view” on abortion. In a recent Jerusalem Post article, two seminary leaders amplified alarms that reversing Roe is “an unconscionable infringement on the religious freedom of Orthodox Jews.” Some argue that state-level restrictions limit the broad nuance with which Rabbis can judge a woman’s situation to permit abortion beyond life-threatening risk; others contend that a woman’s bodily autonomy gives her license to terminate a pregnancy. Israeli Health Minister Nitzan Horowitz described the overturn of Roe as “a fatal blow to human rights” and promptly expanded abortion access in Israel after Dobbs.

At the Jewish Pro-Life Foundation (JPLF), we understand the difficulties and fears that pregnant women face, while disagreeing that abortion has a moral place in Judaism.  Abortion is a significant human experience that often goes unspoken amid the political debate. It has inflicted a silent wound on the people and land of Israel. Hurting families and communities deserve compassionate, restorative healing.

By “abortion,” we mean a medical and/or surgical procedure intended to end the life of a preborn human child in the womb; NOT a miscarriage or treatments to remove a miscarried fetus or an unsalvageable ectopic pregnancy. Many foundational Torah sources and opinions in Jewish law explicitly forbid abortion, except when pregnancy directly threatens a mother’s life. They affirm the preborn’s humanity and our responsibility to protect both mother and child. However, many contemporary rabbis permit abortion due to mental or emotional strain resulting from financial hardship, professional conflict, or concerning prenatal diagnoses. This has led to a dangerous but common misperception that Judaism champions abortion.

Beyond the fatal procedure itself, thousands of parents attest to trauma and grief after abortion. Stories in the online forum “I Regret My Abortion” describe abortion as hazardous and life-changing. While research has raised debate on the dangers of abortion, a meta-analysis by Psychiatry and Clinical Neurosciences suggests a notable correlation between abortion and heightened risk of depression, anxiety and substance abuse disorders; emotional wounds run deep and last a lifetime. Women who abort experience similar or worse outcomes compared to those who suffer miscarriage or choose a life. Another study led by Dr. David M. Fergusson found that abortion is not associated with a reduction in mental health problems. As documented by, physical risks of abortion at various stages of pregnancy include hemorrhaging, infection, damage to internal organs, and in some cases, maternal death.

While not all persons involved in an abortion regret it, the lived experience of those who do deserves consideration. Some are coerced into their choice or condemned for it by those close to them. Dismissing their trauma is unaware at best, or gaslighting at worst. Abortion is a serious, life-altering procedure and we must do more for those who suffer afterwards. They deserve a space to receive support and share their story, free of shame or judgment of this tragic situation, through healing programs such as Tikvat Rachel.

Tikvat Rachel at the JPLF offers a “pathway for Jews who seek a confidential, safe, accepting, and compassionate program to address the deeply personal issues that arise after abortion…based on the Jewish concept of Teshuvah and the promise of healing in Judaism.” Spiritually, we consider life a sacred gift from G-d. Embracing life to fulfill our purpose through His Torah and commandments binds us eternally to our Source of life. Destroying life or diverting it from G-d’s path fractures this essential connection. Our Divine souls always seek their Source, and through Teshuvah, we reject spiritually destructive practices and recommit our faithfulness to our life-giving relationship with G-d.

As Ive said before, “due to abortion, our connection with our Creator is suffering. A lack of discernment and a rise in secularism has led many to uncritically accept abortion with slight regard for its risks and our pertinent Jewish traditions. According to current “U.S. Abortion Statistics: facts and figures relating to the frequency of abortion in the United States” published by, reported legal abortions alone exceed 60 million since 1973. As reported by Haaretz in May 2019, legal abortions in Israel number 40,000 annually, or approximately 1,800,000 total since 1977, leaving a silent void where babies’ souls linger among us.

Grieving parents need a space to be honest about their experience, and I urge a return to “our cultural roots of compassion, kindness, and ministering to the wounded.” At Tikvat Rachel, biblically-based guided reflection, group support and conversation allow grieving parents to own the past, express feelings, forgive themselves and others, and even bond with their lost children. The program name invokes our matriarch Rachel buried on a roadside, who tearfully prayed for her descendants on their exile to Babylon, arousing G-d’s mercy as He swore to fulfill her hope for their redemption. In our difficult current exile, Rachel still cries for us and for many Jewish parents who mourn their children lost to abortion. Yet, there is hope: G-d prevented our annihilation and sustains us today, that we may return to our individual and collective purposes of leading G-dly lives and raising our offspring to do the same. “All of Israel is responsible for one another,” says the Talmud, so together, let us start healing our abortion wound and embrace the gift of life from G-d.

Image: Free image, Pixabay license, no attribution required.

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