Traditional Rabbis Reject Liberal Jews' Claims That Ending Roe Will Stifle Practice of Judaism

Michael W. Chapman | May 16, 2022 | 10:45am EDT
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(CNS News) -- Some liberal Jewish leaders and organizations have denounced the leaked Supreme Court opinion arguing for the overturning of Roe. Wade, claiming that a reversal would violate "religious freedom" and prevent "Jewish women" from practicing their religion.

However, the Coalition for Jewish Values (CJV), which represents more than 2,000 traditional rabbis, rejected that claim and said abortion "violates all Jewish ethics and morals."

After Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito's opinion was leaked to Politico on May 2, several liberal Jews spoke out on Twitter and other media.

For instance, Blimi Marcus, Board President of the Orthodox Jewish Nurses Association, tweeted, "Judaism allows & requires abortion in many circumstances. The mother’s well-being takes priority over a fetus, acc to Jewish law. A fetus which harms a woman is termed a murderer. An overturned Roe will result in Jewish women everywhere being unable to practice their religion."

Rabbi Danya Ruttenberg tweeted, "Abortion bans are a violation of religious freedom. As well as a violation of dignity, autonomy, basic human rights." Ruttenberg also linked to a document entitled "The Torah of Reproductive Freedom," with the subheading, "The Jewish Case for Abortion Justice." 

In another example, Rob Eshman, senior contributing editor of the Jewish publication Forward, wrote, "The anti-abortion views are rooted in a specific Christian belief that life begins at conception and that abortion, therefore, is murder. Jews don’t believe that."

"The state of Israel, which so many evangelical Christians support unreservedly, has had legalized abortion since 1977," added Eshman.

However, the Coalition for Jewish Values states, "Abortion is antithetical to Torah principles. The act of abortion, and the industry that promotes and benefits financially from it, violates all Jewish ethics and morals."

In an amicus brief submitted to the Supreme Court in support of the Mississippi law that Justice Alito's opinion is based on, the CJV says, "The history of Judaism includes many existential threats to Jewish life in the form of state sponsored mass murder. This makes us especially sensitive to the plight of the child in the womb, whose protection under the law was completely abrogated by Roe v. Wade, Doe v. Bolton and Planned Parenthood v. Casey. This tragic human rights violation must be remedied."

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Also, in a May 3 statement rejecting the liberal Jewish views in favor of abortion, the CJV said, "As stated in the CJV white paper on abortion, 'The Jewish Bible identifies human life as a soul placed (breathed) within a body by G-d Himself, with inestimable sanctity and value.'"

"That is the authentic Jewish view, as determined by Rabbinic texts and legal codes stretching back to Sinai," reads the statement.  "We support Heartbeat Laws and other efforts to distinguish between tragic cases of abortion due to medical necessity, as compared to disregard for fetal life as simply the mother’s “choice.”
"Reversing Roe v. Wade would not ban abortion, as alarmists insist," said the CJV, "on the contrary, it would restore this policy decision to the hands of the democratic governments of the individual states. We hope that more states will be able to enact reasonable restrictions, and restore America to a posture of valuing all human life."

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In the amicus brief, the CJV and several other traditional Jewish organizations wrote, "Judaism considers abortion to be murder. One of the most prolific and influential Torah scholars in the history of Judaism, rabbi, legal authority, physician and philosopher Moses ben Maimon, referred to as Maimonides, declared in his compilation of Jewish law, the Mishneh Torah: 'The definition of murder according to the Noahide Laws includes a person ‘who kills even one unborn in the womb of its mother,’ and adds that such a person is liable for the death penalty.'"

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