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The two categories of "pro-life" and "pro-choice" don't include my community's perspective on the issue of when life begins and whether abortion is permissable.

Orthodox Jews have a perspective on when life begins that is a continuum. Without condoning outright abortion, for the first 40-days after conception, if a spontaneous abortion occurs, the fertilized ovum is considered as "mere water" and no special value is assigned to it. As gestation progresses, the fetus's life grows in value, but even after birth, for the first 30 days it is not considered as a full human life, and if it should die, it does not receive the full funeral and burial rites accorded to an older infant.

In some ways, Jewish Law considers even a 9-year old and even a 19-year old as not being fully mature humans.

Abortion is allowable in cases where the pregnancy endangers a mother's life. The fetus in that case is considered a "rodef" (Hebrew for a pursuer who intends to murder). All necessary actions to save the mother's life are encouraged. But once that fetus is born (even minimally), its status changes and abortion becomes a potential murder.

"Endangering a mother's life" may include cases where the danger is psychological and not just physical.

And so, Judaism refuses to paint this controversy as a black or white issue.

If the Jewish approach was widely known, perhaps both Christian and secular Americans might see their views on abortion in a new light.