Abortion Bans Violate the First Amendment

image of the exterior of the Newseum in Washington DC, into which the text of the first amendment is carved

Did you know that, far from prohibiting abortion, Talmudic law sometimes mandates it?

I have a spouse whose degree is in comparative religion and many Jewish friends, so I’ve been thinking about this topic for a while.

Then, in response to the Gilead-level bullshittery going on in Ohio, Alabama, and Georgia, the fabulous Rabbi Danya Ruttenberg (who you really should follow on Twitter if you aren’t already. Go. Now. I’ll wait.) posted an outstanding thread explaining Jewish law on this matter.

  1. I am not a Talmudic scholar.
  2. I am not even Jewish.
  3. I know Hecate just posted about this yesterday, but I’m pissed off, too.

I’m going to summarize a few of her points, but really, go read the whole thread if you have a minute.

  1. Jewish law does not consider a fetus a person until birth.
  2. In fact, even if the mother is actively in labor and her life is in danger, the fetus may be sacrificed to save the mother.
  3. In fact, Jewish law sometimes REQUIRES abortion to preserve life – the life of the mother, which is considered to have greater weight than the POTENTIAL life of the fetus. (imagine that!)
  4. Abortion is permitted in a much wider range of cases, even by “ultra-Orthodox” rabbis. This is under the “rubric of great need.”

The good rabbi lays out her arguments more fully in a recent piece for Forward magazine.

And did you know that the christian practice of using a bunch of versus from the Old Testament to rationalize their stupid “life begins at conception” stance is considered by rabbis to be inappropriate use of the texts?

As Rabbi Ruttenberg explains: “To put it simply, we don’t derive matters of Jewish law from Psalms.”

I guess understanding the context of your own holy book is for suckers, amirite, fundamentalists?

Another fun fact: the religious right’s origin story is all about resistance to Roe v. Wade and “think of the babies!!!!” That’s a lie. The pro-forced birth thing is a cover for early religious right leaders’ (like Jerry Falwell, James Dobson, and Paul Weyrich) real motivation: white supremacy and trying to preserve Jim Crow in the face of federal civil rights legislation. Yes, really – here are the receipts.

Having grown up in that world, I can confirm from personal experience that they didn’t start giving a shit about any of this until the mid-1980s AND that interracial dating remained a huge issue until at least that time, if not later.

Women in fundamentalist circles are encouraged/forced to stay forever child-like, submissive first to their fathers and then to their husbands, leaving all important decisions up to the menfolk. Most do not have anything resembling a career, and many have never held a job more involving than what one might have as a teenager – or even any job at all. Many earn no money of their own and may never even have paid a bill.

Relatedly, they are, as a group, often subject to jejune sentimentality. Which the men who run the pro-forced birth movement (because it IS mostly men) play on, big time. It’s evil, and it’s gross.

I’ve written about this before, but if these people were genuinely pro-LIFE, they would support:

  • Comprehensive sex ed
  • Easy, universal, free access to birth control
  • Comprehensive, free prenatal care
  • Universal parental leave
  • Subsidized, high-quality child care
  • Wrap-around adoption support

Do they actually support any of that stuff?


Want to know what it’s like right now on the ground in Georgia? Read this heart-breaking thread, and take the action the writer recommends at the end.

Image found here.

Like what you read? Follow me on Twitter @MrsWhatsit1.

3 responses to “Abortion Bans Violate the First Amendment

  1. Yes! According to the Bible, life begins at birth or possibly when the mother feels it move, which is between 15 and 25 weeks. You would think anti-abortion activists would think twice before setting the precedent of making it illegal to base decisions on the Bible.

  2. Sent from my iPad


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