Given that abortion does not equate to murder - in the case of threat to the mother's life, abortion becomes a requirement:
Since the mother is not allowed to choose suicide, abortion in that extreme case becomes mandatory. This is the sense of the fundamental passage in the Talmud bearing on the subject. The Mishna (Oholot 7,6) puts it this way:
"If a woman has [life-threatening] difficulty in childbirth, the embryo within her must be dismembered limb by limb [if necessary], because her life [hayyeha] takes precedence over its life [yayyav]. Once its head (or its greater part) has emerged, it may not be touched, for we may not set aside one life [nefesh] for another."
The justification for abortion then is that before the child emerges we do not yet have a nefesh. The life of the fetus is only potential, and that cannot compete with actual human life. (84-85)
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