The U.S. Supreme Court’s long-awaited decision on Friday morning to overturn Roe v. Wade, a landmark 1973 ruling on abortion rights, has rocked the nation. Among Americans, the news was met with either relief or shock depending on which side of the issue one stood. Orthodox Jewish institutions and individuals also expressed a range of opinions and views – though certainly less wide-ranging than the general public’s.
More than a month after a draft opinion on the case was leaked, the U.S. Supreme Court officially released its decision in the Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, overturning the longstanding Roe v. Wade ruling that guaranteed the right to an abortion at the federal level.
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The Coalition for Jewish Values (CJV) welcomed the ruling, stating that Judaism regards all life as sacred.
“Jewish law permits abortion only in truly extraordinary circumstances. This does not describe the situation in America today, where the overwhelming majority of abortions are done as an elective procedure,” CJV wrote in a news release. “The dialogue needs to change: If everything is a human right, then in the end, nothing remains worthy of special protection. We must return to a society that cherishes human rights and human life.”
Rabbi Gidon Rothstein expressed concern for where the country is headed. “Dobbs is the first time the Supreme Court has removed a previously declared right,” he said. “It is a profoundly uncivil act, in that it imposes the view of one side on the other, exactly what upset many who oppose the right to an abortion when the ‘other side’ did it to them. The Founding Fathers feared the tyranny of the minority as well as the tyranny of the majority, and this might be both.
“War, cultural or military, is never a great option; it is sometimes necessary, but never ideal. People who object to abortion on moral grounds likely see Dobbs as a victory, where I see it as another shot fired in a war, another rend in the fabric of US civil society. A society that at one time was made up of people working to create the maximum room for all citizens to live according to their very different views of right and wrong. Sadly, the U.S. currently seems hell-bent on its descent into a grab-what-you-can society, taking as much as possible when in power and protesting loudly when the other side then does the same. I pray we all soon find our way to a better version of ourselves, where mutual respect allows us to build together, making room for ‘the other’s’ very different views, rather than a power struggle up and down the line.”
Taking a different approach, Rabbi Yaakov Menken, founding managing director of Coalition for Jewish Values, said, “It is true, as many note, that less government regulation means more liberty for us to do as we please. And in a situation where people advocate for no abortions ever, it is clear we would have to find common cause with the ‘pro-choice’ community in order to save lives.
“But that is not where we are today. Steven Aden, general counsel for Americans United for Life (AUL), told me there isn’t a national pro-life organization promoting legislation that fails to include an exception for the life of the mother. Even the Catholic Church, on a slide from a Catholic healthcare conference, declares “indirect abortion” – a procedure done to save the mother’s life, where the death of the fetus is foreseen but unavoidable – is permitted. Either we never understood Catholic belief, or their beliefs have tempered from where they were 50 years ago.
“The other side is this: the Jewish left is doing tremendous damage. They are claiming it’s a religious freedom issue. Just today, a Jewish conservative leader asked me, ‘Does your organization have a statement against abortion. My Christian friends are asking if it’s true that Judaism is pro-abortion.’ We need to articulate the Torah position.”
See the full article in The Jewish Press