2,000 Rabbis Decry Lawsuit Claiming Abortion to be a Jewish Value
January 23, 2023

The Coalition for Jewish Values (CJV), representing over 2000 traditional, Orthodox rabbis in American public policy, today decried a lawsuit against the state of Missouri by a dozen rabbis and other faith leaders, calling the suit a “desecration of G-d’s name that is simply beyond words.” Last year, in the wake of the Dobbs decision reversing Roe v. Wade, Missouri Governor Michael Parson activated the state’s “Right to Life of the Unborn Child Act,” which barred abortions except due to a medical emergency. The lawsuit claims that “[Christian] religious views are being enshrined into laws in Missouri,” and this is what drew the rabbis’ condemnation.

“To assert that access to an elective procedure is somehow a religious obligation is inherently irrational, defying all logic and reason,” said CJV Midwestern Regional Vice President Rabbi Ze’ev Smason, who led a St. Louis, Missouri synagogue for a quarter century before retiring last year. “And to cloak this demand in the mantle of Judaism is heinous. Let us ask these five rabbis claiming to speak for Judaism: what positive commandment do they fulfill when stopping the heart of an unborn baby? What Hebrew blessing do they recite upon feticide?”

CJV rejected three ideas upon which the lawsuit was based: that a pro-life position places religion over science, that valuing fetal life is uniquely tied to one religion, and that legislators should be expected to discard their religious views when formulating public policy positions.

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Among the innumerable medical advances of the fifty years since Roe v. Wade was decided, it is now known that children learn to suck their thumbs, respond to their parents’ voices, and even recognize songs in utero—meaning that science, contrary to the lawsuit’s narrative, offers compelling evidence that a child is alive before birth. The rejection of elective abortion is also rooted in the Jewish Bible, the foundation of monotheism and moral authority. And, finally, the idea that a citizen cannot consider personal religious views on a moral question violates not only common sense, but democratic principles.

“This lawsuit is without basis in either Jewish or secular law,” said CJV Vice President Rabbi Dov Fischer, an adjunct professor of law at two prominent Southern California law schools for nearly 20 years. “And that it was filed by people calling themselves ‘rabbis’ is simply outrageous. Their manifest ignorance of Jewish history and the sacred value of human life is in line with their ignorance of Jewish belief. Their woke effort to distort core Jewish values constitutes a desecration of G-d’s name that is simply beyond words, and they should be ashamed.”

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