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- Mar 27, 2022
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Striking down Roe v. Wade will violate Jewish religious liberty
Jewish law allows for abortion in many cases, and requires it if the mother’s life is in danger.
A woman who had desperately wanted to get pregnant ended up having to have an abortion.
This woman, who I know well, told me her story through tears but without hyperbole or exaggeration.
She and her husband had tried to conceive for three years before she finally became pregnant. Everything was going smoothly until 18 weeks into the pregnancy, when the woman’s water broke and contractions started, stopping the development of the baby’s lungs in the absence of amniotic fluid.
An ultrasound additionally showed that the woman’s uterus had become infected, and that she could die if the nonviable fetus was not removed. Thankfully, once they did so, the infection cleared and this woman was able to have a son a few years later.
The woman told me this story the morning after a draft ruling was leaked from the Supreme Court. If adopted as law, it would have sentenced this woman and countless others to death.
When this woman’s fetus was removed to save her life, the fetus still had a heartbeat. Such an abortion would become illegal in several states if Roe is overturned.
Abortions happen regularly in Jewish communities, even Orthodox ones, but often go undiscussed. Jewish law allows for abortion in many cases, and requires it if the mother’s life is in danger.
This ruling is the culmination of a decadeslong political organizing campaign by Christian conservatives, many of whom believe that abortion is murder, even if the procedure is done to save the life of the mother or in the very early stages of pregnancy.
Republican politicians since 1973 have used the promise of banning abortion to get Christian voters out to the polls, and this has been key to many of the GOP’s electoral successes. A 2015 poll found that 23% of anti-abortion voters would only vote for a candidate that was also anti-abortion, and Donald Trump’s 2016 victory can be largely attributed to his promises that he would only appoint Supreme Court nominees who would overturn Roe v. Wade.
The fundamentalist Christian position is the exact opposite of the halachic approach to abortions. The success of this Republican-Christian strategy should strike terror in the hearts of frum communities across America. It should also motivate us to action.