Contaception in Judaism
Dr. Hubert Dimwiddie
Contraception in Judaism Overview
Unlike many other religions, Jewish Law is not completely against the idea of contraception. Because there is nothing specifically in the Bible about contraception or birth control, Jewish Law does not condone the act in some instances. However, that is an important distinction. There are some circumstances that contraception is not allowed in Jewish Law while there are other circumstances in which it is acceptable. The circumstances play a large part in figuring out whether or not contraception is allowed in a certain scenario.
While there are many cases where ...view middle of the document...
The risk lies not so much in the specific age of the girl but moreso in the stage of puberty that they are in. Prior to puberty, pregnancy would not occur, and once the onset of puberty occurs, it would not constitute the physical or emotional hazard of a girl becoming pregnant at such a young age. According to the Talmud, pregnancy is dangerous to both the mother and the fetus during the twelfth year of a woman’s life. Not only this, but it is, and has been for centuries, frowned upon for a man to marry a woman under the age of twelve years and one day. In Birth Control in Jewish Law by David M. Feldman, he says that a man “is guilty of effective neglect of the duty of procreation” when he marries a woman that is not yet fruitful. While it is not necessarily considered a sin to marry a woman of this age, it is still frowned upon. This specific woman, a child bride, may use a mokh to protect herself from hazard, but hazard to the woman is not always the reason for use of the mokh.
The second of the three types of women is a nursing bride. These are women who have recently given birth to a child who is still in the development stage of the child where she is still nursing the child to feed it. The nursing bride may use a mokh to protect the young child. If she were to get pregnant again, it may affect her lactation and induce the weaning of her child. According to Feldman, “Twenty-four months is held to be the normal nursing period for an infant, and pregnancy during that time is a serious threat to his wellbeing.” This idea is taken so seriously that there is a Jewish law that a divorcee or widow who is either pregnant or nursing is not permitted to marry until two year after the birth of her child. The fear of partaking in intercourse during this period is because of two possibilities. One, a second pregnancy may occur which will affect her milk or the child will be affected or prematurely weaned because of this change. Therefore, the hazard included in this scenario lies in the safety of the already existing child and not the bride who would become pregnant. This is not the only case where the bride is not the one who faces the most hazard.
The third and final of the three types of women who can use a mokh is a pregnant wife. Because sexual intimacy does not need the possibility of procreation in Judaism, this is not the issue. According to Seneca from Feldman’s writing, “Nothing is fouler than to love a wife like an adulteress.” He went on to say that man should at the very least “imitate the beasts,” meaning that since animals do not try to mate while the female is already pregnant, man should at least do the same. Clement of Alexandria also talked about this issue saying that when animals know the female is pregnant they no longer indulge in intercourse during the last three months of pregnancy. She also said that it is “wicked to trouble nature with demanding lust.” She is clearly concerned with the safety of both the fetus and the...