If you aren’t Pro Life are you pro death? If you aren’t Pro Choice are you for no choice? What makes us a person and when do we become one? The National Jewish Retreat this past summer featured Rabbi Berel Bell delving into these questions. He is a Judge on the Montreal Beis Din as well as extremely knowledgeable about secular and medical ethics. Rabbi Bell presents examples from civil courts; the mother is not injured in a car accident, but her unborn baby is: a mother kills her unborn baby with a BB gun; and other gruesome cases. The Torah answer to the question of whether a fetus has rights is a resounding “it depends”. The answer lies in when the soul enters the physical body. As the fetus develops, the soul gradually moves in until birth when the soul and the body are completed and joined. The rights of the fetus depend on the situation with mother and baby. Is the life of the mother at risk? How far along is the pregnancy? There are many factors that a Rav must consider when ruling in these situations. The value that the Torah puts on life is evident in the examples given in the Talmud. The question in these dire situations is whose life is considered more valuable and important in each individual case. Rabbi Bell gives a presentation that is thorough, intriguing and a pleasure to view.
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