The Torah protects a woman's right to abortion and its wrong for American Christians to pretend otherwise

Senator Marco Rubio regularly quotes the Old Testament in his tweets


TOPSHOT - Thousands of demonstrators march in support of Planned Parenthood and pro-choice as they protest a state decision that would effectively halt abortions by revoking the license of the last center in the state that performs the procedure, during a rally in St. Louis, Missouri, May 30, 2019. (Photo by SAUL LOEB / AFP) (Photo by SAUL LOEB/AFP via Getty Images)

May 19, 2022 12:46

In the land of the free, in 2022, women are having their basic rights stripped from them.

America’s Supreme Court judges may overturn Roe v Wade, the ruling which gave women the right to choose to have an abortion without excessive interference by government.

If Roe v Wade is overruled, abortion may become illegal in almost half of US states.

British women like me are horrified at this prospect and sympathise completely with the anguish being expressed by our sisters from across the pond.

However, I find it especially excruciating to watch Christian Republicans hijacking Jewish texts to justify their anti-aborition stance.

Senator Marco Rubio, who has campaigned for an abortion ban in all cases, including rape and incest, regularly quotes the Old Testament in his tweets in order to validate his cruel ideological position.

Last week, as Republicans voted to block a bill that enshrined the right to abortion into Federal law, he tweeted: “‘You shall not kill’, Exodus 20:13.”

His arrogance, and the arrogance of other Republicans like him, makes my blood boil.

Verses in the Torah explicitly protect a woman’s right to abortion, and the failure of American politicians to acknowledge this shows their ignorance.

The Talmud explicitly states that it considers the foetus to be “mere water” for the first 40 days of pregnancy.

In Judaism, the foetus does not obtain full, human status until birth. This Talmudic verse implies that the 40-day foetus is of almost no value whatsoever.

Some Jewish scholars even argue that abortion is mandatory in Judaism if the foetus threatens the life of the mother. In these situations, the foetus is considered to be a “rodef”, or murderer, and according to Maimonides it is permissible to “dismember the foetus in her womb” in order to save the pregnant woman.

Though it is disputed, Orthodox rabbinic sources generally support abortion when a mother’s health (including mental health) is in danger, even if her life is not at risk.

I am not suggesting the case for abortion in Judaism is black-and-white. There are many circumstances in which Judaism does not permit an abortion to be carried out.

However, American politicians are misuing Jewish texts to give their abusive policies a sense of undeserved gravitas.

The idea that these anti-abortion politicians are “pro-life” is laughable.

While Marco Rubio was smugly tweeting, “you should not kill”, lawmakers in Texas were considering imposing the death penalty for people who have abortions. The irony appears to be lost on them.

It is blindingly ignorant to claim that banning abortion saves lives. With abortions criminalised, American women will be forced into unsafe, unregulated abortions that carry huge risks.

According to the WHO, up to 13.2 per cent of maternal deaths worldwide can be attributed to unsafe abortion each year.

In developed regions, it is estimated that 30 women die for every 100,000 unsafe abortions.

These statistics are devastating. Maternal fatalities like these are completely preventable. Yet in America, more women will die in this way.

Both Christians and Jews claim to value the sanctity of life above all else. If Roe v Wade is overturned in America, a lot more vulnerable women are going to die preventable deaths.

Abortion bans will save no one. So much for being pro-life.

As a Jewish woman, it is distressing to watch Christian politicians abuse the Jewish religion to compromise the safety of women in America.

Lives will be ruined if the government is allowed to treat women with such disdain. It is wrong to force a woman to carry an unwanted pregnancy to its term.

American politicians who talk about the free market, praise the small state and laud individual freedom need to get their grubby hands off women’s bodies.

May 19, 2022 12:46

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