Letter: End hypocrisy of abortion rules

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The Independent Online
Sir: It is a pity that Polly Toynbee includes Jews with Christians and Muslims in a sweeping condemnation. Perhaps the well-publicised views of a former Chief Rabbi have led her to ignore a tradition of hundreds of years of debate between Jews about the ethics of abortion.

According to halacha, abortion is not considered killing. The mother's life and wellbeing take precedence over that of the foetus. The Mishnah makes a clear distinction between foetal life and newborn life.

Judaism offers a recognition of women's right to make a hard and painful decision - never an easy one. It is a tradition of respecting one's opponents, listening to and answering their arguments rather than caricaturing them, and recognising the importance of details and individual circumstances, rather than easy generalisations. Polly Toynbee could learn a lot from it.


London E11