This post is in loving memory of the Lubavitcher Rebbe of blessed and saintly memory, whose 24th yahrtzeit is tomorrow
on Shabbat, 3 Tammuz. The Rebbe was instrumental in bringing me close to observant Judaism way back in the beginning of my search, in the early 1980's. I even had the privilege of spending Shabbat with him, exactly 31 years ago, on Shabbat Korach, 5747 (1987). I owe him an eternal debt.
The Rebbe loved life, loved everyone, and loved every mitzva of the Torah. With this in mind, he was vehemently against abortion.
There's a well-known story of a childless young couple who came to the Rebbe for a blessing. Several months later, the woman became pregnant. When she was in the advanced stages of pregnancy, a fire broke out in her home. The woman, who was alone at home, inhaled smoke and fainted from the lack of oxygen. The rescue squad and firefighters carried her out of the burning house in a state of clinical death. The doctors resuscitated her for hours before she was out of danger. Then the haed physician decided that the woman's unborn child had to be aborted, because it was certainly lifeless, and even if it does live, it won't be more than a vegetable after such prolonged deprivation of oxygen. The doctor asked the husband to sign a release form but the husband refused. He sent an urgent telegram to the Rebbe, saying what the doctors wanted to do.
The Rebbe replied as follows: "Do not agree to an abortion; get a second opinion." The couple followed his advice, but the second doctor was equally adamant and admonished the husband for not agreeing to the abortion. "Forget about the baby; do you want to lose your wife too? The abortion must be performed immediately."
The husband sent another urgent telegram; the Rebbe's answer remained the same: "No abortion under any circumstances. With Hashem's help, everything will be fine." Eventually, the mother gave birth to a healthy baby girl, and later to another healthy child.
Wow, that's the Rebbe...
Why was the Rebbe so against abortion? The Gemara emphatically tells us that abortion delays the coming of Moshiach. Here's how:
The Talmud in tractate Yevamos (pg. 63b) says, "[Moshiach] Ben David won't arrive until all the souls are depleted from the body."
Rashi, our 11th Century sage from Ashkenaz (Germany-France) and the most important Talmudic commentator of all times, explains this very cryptic passage. "Body," says Rashi, "is the name of a partition that separates the Shechina (Divine presence) from the angels, which serves as the warehouse for all the souls that were created during the six days of creation, and that are destined to be given to bodies that will subsequently be created."
The above Talmudic passage teaches us that all the souls must assume bodily forms on earth before Moshiach can come. Even though unborn babies all possess divine souls (neshoma, since the unborn learn the entire Torah - oral, written, and esoteric - from an angel while in the mother's womb), the entire spiritual/soul complex that includes nefesh, ruach, and neshoma [basic vitality, spirit, and divine soul] all come together in the body momentarily before the baby is born (for further reference see Talmud in tractate Nida, pg. 30b; Tanya, first chapter; Eleph Hamagen, commentary on Mateh Efraim, intro. to laws of Rosh Hashonna; Sha'ar Hagilgulim, Seder knisas haneshoma). So, when for some reason the baby is not born, then the soul cannot leave "Body" (or 'Guf' in the original Hebrew), the heavenly warehouse for unborn souls. Until Guf is empty, Moshiach is delayed in arriving.
In light of the above Talmudic teachings, any person who performs, supports, assists, or encourages abortions is delaying the arrival of Moshiach with his or her own two hands.
I often wondered why the Talmud is so severe in its condemnation of doctors, when it says (tractate Kiddushin 82a), "the best of doctors are destined to Gehennom (purgatory)." When considering that in Israel alone, doctors perform over 20,000 abortions a year, then it's easy to understand why Moshiach is not yet being allowed to reveal himself. No, one does not receive a prize for contributing to the delay of Moshiach. Our sages in their infinite wisdom could see far into the future; that's why they said what they did about doctors.
So, if you'd like to lend a helping hand in bringing Moshiach as fast as possible, do what you can to fight against abortion in every way possible. I pray for your health, but if you ever need a doctor, I strongly suggest that you choose a physician who's opposed to abortion. A good physician recognizes the sanctity of human life.