The American Spectator: Abortion Sounds So Much More Soothing Than ‘Infanticide’
July 10, 2022

by Rabbi Dov Fischer in The American Spectator

There are approximately one million Orthodox Jews in the United States. The main group of Orthodox rabbis speaking on public policy matters is Coalition for Jewish Values. It speaks for 2,000 — two thousand — American rabbis. The largest collegial membership association of American Orthodox rabbis is the Rabbinical Council of America (RCA). They number 1,000 dues-paying members and are associated more with Modern Orthodox Judaism. Another such rabbinical body, more Haredi (more inclined towards the “black hat” and less modern approach), also numbering some 1,000 American Orthodox rabbis, is the Rabbinical Alliance of America (“Igud HaRabbonim”). And in many ways, yet another, Agudath Israel of America, historically has driven the American Orthodox agenda.

You probably never have heard of any of these. Isn’t that strange?

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The leftist woke mass media, truly a branch of the Democrat party — or is it the way around? — has not only the power to impact public opinion by pushing a political agenda but even can consign others into invisibility. When it comes to Jews and Judaism, they hide the Orthodox Jews and their rabbinical leaders from the public arena. That is particularly ironic because Orthodox Judaism alone reflects actual Judaism — adhering to the rules for observing Sabbath (Shabbat), eating a strictly kosher diet, and so forth. Instead, the media quote, cite, and promote leftist Jewish organizations, spokespeople, leaders, and organizations.

Most of the most frequently cited non-Orthodox groups are led by Jews In Name Only — at least 33-40 percent of whom are not even Jews to begin with — and these “Jewish leaders” are enormously ignorant of even basic Judaic information. They barely can read Hebrew and do not understand it. They have never held in their hands a volume of the Talmud and would not know what to do with it if they stumbled on such volume in a library. Most would not know which side is up and which side down.

This entire state of affairs is deeply unfortunate, even upsetting, particularly when the woke media — ABC, CBS, NBC, PBS, CNN, MSNBC, the New York Times, and the Washington Post — seek to promote a left agenda item by quoting a rabbi or Jewish source. Other than Fox News, one barely ever sees one of the above Orthodox rabbinical sources quoted. Instead, they publish misguided and misleading headlines connoting, for example, that there is only one uniform position on issues like abortion, always in lockstep with the Democrat party.

But that is a lie.

In truth, Judaism forbids abortion quite significantly. The matter is not a close call, except insofar as certain major Rabbinic decisors and authorities deem abortion to be murder, while others see it as killing. As such, the latter allow for a bit more wiggle room when a fetus represents a threat to a pregnant woman’s life. Even so, Orthodox rabbis do not hand out “Free Parking” cards for abortions. Rather, a pregnant woman consults privately with her rabbi, who often then consults with his own higher authority, to determine whether an abortion can be allowed in an extremely outlier situation.

In Judaism, deriving primarily from a discussion in the Talmud about the daughter of a father in the Kohen (“priestly”) tribe, the rabbis settled on a determination that the soul enters the fetus at forty days. Until then, many authoritative rabbinical decisors are more lenient on abortion questions, while others still are quite strict. But once forty days have passed since conception the fetus is deemed a life. The discussion thereupon shifts to balancing the mother’s bodily integrity against that of the fetus to live.

Of course women have bodily rights. No one should touch them without their permission, stroke their hair, lay a shoulder across their arms. And of course no one has the right to kiss them on the lips, thrust a tongue into their mouths (think: Al Franken), grab at their breasts (think: Cory Booker), or such without their permission.

The dilemma is that, by the way that nature exists, an independent living body sometimes emerges to take both form and life within some women’s bodies. That complicates things. Does a woman have the right to say “Kill this emerging life inside of me, this other body that soon is destined to live completely independently of mine?”

There is a difference between “killing” and “murder.” A difference in law, a difference in language. The Ten Pronouncements (wrongly translated as the “Ten Commandments”), for example, bans murder, not killing (lo tirtzach — and not lo taharog). Thus, it is perfectly acceptable and sometimes even righteous pursuant to Biblical theology for soldiers at war to kill the enemy, for regular people to kill attackers. Indeed, that is why the same code of life permits and even commands capital punishment in certain discrete instances. On the other hand, murder always is forbidden.

Where does that leave abortion? Killing? Murder? Or just an internal cleaning, a variant on douching?

At some point when that fetus’s heart is beating, its limbs have taken shape, and it is making a significant debut on the ultrasound monitor and within sonograms, fair-minded people acknowledge that it is a life. On the other hand, a pregnant woman driving alone in a carpool lane will be ticketed in even the most pro-life state; the traffic court judge will not buy the contention that, with her fetus in the womb, there were two in the car.

For the vast majority of people, the moral dilemma can be avoided in most cases, not all, simply by their exercising personal responsibility. Among other options, one can buy birth control pills, condoms, diaphragms, and spermicide. Outside of instances of rape and certain other outlier instances, there really ought be no need for massive numbers of abortions. A few failed birth-control situations — a faulty condom, mis-applied diaphragm — might account for a few outlier situations, but we would not have millions of abortions in play.

In Orthodox Judaism, there is a general disapproval of casual birth control, but the nuances of legal application make the rules less forbidding than are the Catholic Church’s laws. Similarly, Orthodox Judaism stands unequivocally against abortion-on-demand, although outlier situations are evaluated by rabbinic authorities on case-by-case bases.

According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), there have been 45 million abortions in America since 1970. There were approximately 200,000 in 1970, and the number jumped to 763,000 in 1974. It kept rising to 1,429,000 in 1990, and it then started a downward spiral descending to “only” 638,000 in 2015. A simple graphic shows that abortions predominantly have impacted the population numbers of Black and Hispanic America. African-American women are three times as likely as Caucasians to undergo an abortion; Latinas twice as likely. Ironically, Republican conservatives who led the fight against Roe v. Wade and abortion on demand, who marched for life, by now would have been wiped out politically if they had won their battle. Given the propensity of Blacks and Hispanic Americans to vote Democrat Left, and the greater propensity of liberal Caucasian women than their married conservative counterparts to abort, the twenty million or so fetuses aborted between 1970 and 1990 would have become voters by now and very probably would have tilted elections Leftward in several states now and for decades to come. Ironically, it has been the pro-choice movement that has allowed Republican conservatives in America still to enjoy any choice at all come election time, saving the other 49 states from turning into California, which almost-literally has become a one-party state.

One revisits the words of former Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam:

When we talk about third-trimester abortions, these are done with the consent of obviously the mother, with the consent of the physicians, more than one physician, by the way. And it’s done in cases where there may be severe deformities, there may be a fetus that’s non-viable. So in this particular example, if a mother is in labor, I can tell you exactly what would happen. The infant would be delivered. The infant would be kept comfortable. The infant would be resuscitated if that’s what the mother and the family desired, and then a discussion would ensue between the physicians and the mother.

Emphasis added.

In such a new legislative framework, it is useful to pause and contemplate how exactly an abortion is done.

The word “abortion” is very sterile and gentle. It is a term like a “procedure.” What does an abortion actually entail?

According to Planned Parenthood, an abortion entails simply suctioning the “pregnancy tissue” out of the woman’s body. That sounds OK. At home when we vacuum, sometimes the machine suctions a dirty tissue from the floor. Other pro-choice websites likewise describe suctioning the “pregnancy.” WebMD describes a process of a “suction machine” inserted into the uterus to “clear out its contents.” Very sterile and genteel. The removal of “pregnancy tissue,” suctioning the “pregnancy,” clearing out the “contents.” But what do those nouns — tissue, pregnancy, uterus contents — mean?

Often it entails injecting a potassium compound into a fetus’s heart to stop it from beating. A short time into the pregnancy the fetus head gets too big to extract out of the woman, so it first must be cleared of its “gray matter,” the brain contents. Then the head can be crushed to a more manageable size for extraction, perhaps pulled out by forceps, perhaps by vacuum suction. Suction likewise vacuums out the limbs, the different body parts, the crushed head. As with all suction devices, the vacuuming procedure obviously tears limbs from limbs.

Three national Orthodox rabbinical organizations have issued statements on abortion in recent years. The Rabbinical Council of America said this, in pertinent part:

Jewish law opposes abortion, except in cases of danger to the mother. Most authorities consider feticide an act of murder; others deem it an act akin to the murder of potential life. There are Jewish legal scholars who permit, in extenuating circumstances, the abortion of compromised fetuses.

The RCA maintains that “abortion on demand,” even before twenty-four weeks from the commencement of pregnancy, is forbidden. There is no sanction to permit the abortion of a healthy fetus when the mother’s life is not endangered. The RCA supports that part of the law that permits abortion, even at a late stage, when the mother’s life is at risk.

Rabbi Aaron Lichtenstein, of blessed memory, a leading expert in Jewish law and mentor to many rabbis of the RCA, wrote, “from the perspective of the fetus and those concerned with its welfare, liberality in this direction comes at the expense of humanity…”

Rabbi Daniel Korobkin, former president of the RCA, said, “The removal of any restriction from abortion access and the redefining of the word ‘homicide’ to exclude abortion, indicate a further erosion of the moral values of our society, where killing babies is no longer construed as immoral in any way, even when the fetus has a measure of personhood, actual or potential…”

Leading Torah scholars such as Rabbi Moshe Feinstein, Rabbi Joseph Soloveitchik, and Rabbi Yaakov Kamenetsky have publicly called such abortion “murder,” which highlights the seriousness with which we must approach this issue. As with most medical issues, there may be other considerations that enter into the equation that require consultation with a medical professional and a competent rabbi. However, the intentional termination of a fetus should never be done casually as there are two lives at risk — the mother’s and the unborn child’s. Abortion on demand as allowed today in many places in the U.S. is immoral and sinful.

The Left Mediacracy ignores these statements, instead ferreting within their Left echo chamber to find the George Soros types in the Jewish community, including the ADL that has been taken over by former Obama White House personnel, to create the alternative reality that fosters and advances the Left narrative. But for Jews who actually practice Judaism, who abide by the kosher dietary rules and who observe the Jewish Sabbath as it is constituted, the approach is in sync with that of Christians and fundamentalist Protestants, devout Catholics, and even secular and atheist Americans who cannot countenance poisoning the heart of a fetus to stop its beating, sucking its brains out of its head, crushing its cranium, and vacuuming its arms, legs, and other body parts except in the most extreme of circumstances when the dilemma extends beyond inconvenience and goes to the heart of whether the baby’s exit will murder the mother in the process.

Originally published in The American Spectator

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