According to statistics, 1 in 2 pregnancies in America are unplanned. Millions of women, from the youngest teens to ladies in their late 40’s, have to face this difficult situation. For unmarried women, the temptation to end their pregnancy can be incredibly strong, particularly if they’re in school, not financially stable, have an unsupportive partner, and/or lack family approval.
The Jewish community, like every other, deals with it, though it’s not often talked about. There is so much fear, guilt, shame, and judgment that many women are afraid to reach out, and those who want to, may not know where to go. An amazing organization called In Shifra’s Arms is a priceless resource.
They’re a non-partisan social service organization, with members from every stream of Judaism—secular, Orthodox, and everything in-between. They provide free, confidential counseling. For those who are currently pregnant and want to keep their babies, they can offer care packages, financial assistance, and local connections—things these moms need and deserve! For those who want to have—or already had—an abortion, they provide emotional and spiritual care.
I’ve personally known women who went both routes, with various outcomes and various levels of regret. None of them would say it was an easy decision. This topic is so emotional, with no simple answers, and I, like most folks, agonize over it.
While I believe that life begins at conception, viability certainly does not and I do think abortion within the first trimester should be legal. (After that, only in a dire emergency.) The Torah does allow abortion, but it’s never encouraged, just something that is viewed as an unfortunate reality of human existence in this troubled world.
If a lady feels so incredibly desperate that her only choice is an abortion, I would never, ever judge her, nor should anyone else. Usually it’s fear and isolation that caused her to make that choice. What bothers me is the enormous misinformation campaign that goes on; both the pro-life and pro-choice groups do it equally. Anyone who claims that abortion is a good thing is a lunatic or a total liar. Abortion is the loss of life—for the baby always and quite often, it’s an emotional death for the mother. Women who go through the hellish ordeal of abortion need compassion, never condemnation.
The choice to end or continue an unwanted pregnancy may be the most heartbreaking decision any woman could ever make. Nobody should have to do it alone. Talk it out, with a non-judgmental person, and be sure that you’re informed. And if you made a choice long ago that you regret now, there is hope and healing for that, too.
In Shifra’s Arms is the best place to start.
Because this topic is so sensitive, anonymous comments are fine, but I am begging everyone to be understanding and sympathetic. Different opinions are ok, but I will trash stuff that is intentionally cruel.