Distorting Religion to Serve Abortion Rights

 

How many times have you seen the leaders of religions distorting the tenets of a religion to serve a political cause? Of course, they would never say their claims are political, but in the case of abortion, one Jewish community in Florida has decided that they can misrepresent Judaism to serve a greater cause: women’s rights and abortion. (I guess G-d’s laws don’t figure into a “greater cause.”) When I see any religious leaders choosing to meet a woke agenda, I am deeply disappointed and saddened to see the abuse of their positions of power, and the rabbi of L’Dor Va-Dor is no exception.

So what do we know about this congregation and Florida law:

A synagogue in Florida filed a lawsuit this week to challenge the state over a new law prohibiting abortion after 15 weeks. Under current law, Florida allows abortions up to 24 weeks. Congregation L’Dor Va-Dor of Boynton Beach claims the new law, which has been signed by Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis and is set to take effect on July 1, violates the religious freedom rights of Jews.

The lawsuit, which was filed Friday in Leon County Circuit Court, claims that the act ‘prohibits Jewish women from practicing their faith free of government intrusion and this violates their privacy rights and religious freedom.’

The lawsuit also argues that religious minorities in Florida will be harmed and that the law will threaten Jews ‘by imposing the laws of other religions upon Jews.’

The explanation of “violating privacy rights” is nothing new in the discussion of abortion, but I have no idea which other religions are being imposed upon Jews.

You probably realize, however, that this congregation doesn’t fit neatly into any kind of recognized division of Judaism:

Congregation L’Dor Va-Dor, which doesn’t belong to any denomination, defines itself as ‘an all-inclusive, universal, and rational approach to Judaism’ and ‘honors tradition, respects science, and celebrates spirituality.’

This mishmash of a description seems to be an effort to cover the “woke agenda,” but I have no idea which traditions they are referring to.

It is important to state that Judaism does not ban abortion, but allows it in extreme cases:

Therefore, traditional Jewish law holds that the preborn child has a right to life just as strong as the mother’s ― except when he or she poses an imminent danger to her life. The former Chief Justice of the Supreme Rabbinical Court of America, Rabbi Marvin S. Antelman, clearly stated the position of Jewish law on abortion when he said:

All major religions have their parochial and their universal aspects, and the problem of abortion is not a parochial one.  It is of universal morality, and it is neither a Catholic problem, nor a Jewish problem, nor a Protestant problem.  It involves the killing of a human being, an act forbidden by universal commandment.

Needless to say, committing abortion is a profoundly serious action.

But I want to return to Rabbi Barry and his Boca Raton/Boynton Beach congregation, and their misguided and distorted interpretation of Jewish law. We benefit from understanding the observance of halacha or Jewish law and its relationship to opting for abortion to understand the problem.

The issue is whether Jews can selectively choose to observe Jewish law and still have credibility in demanding that they expect others to do the same. For example, I can choose to observe the Jewish laws of keeping kosher, but if I choose not to work on the Sabbath, is it a legitimate demand or expectation for my employer to accept my decision? From my perspective, it is not.

The reason the selective observance of Jewish law is an issue is described in some detail here. This statement, however, gets to the crux of the matter:

This background brings us to the precise claims put forward by Congregation L’Dor Va-Dor. The complaint is somewhat jumbled, but buried in the pleading is a religious claim: Jewish women have some sort of religious obligation to obtain an abortion if the pregnancy threatens their health. This argument is premised on halacha, which, again, Reform Jews tend not to view as binding. So here is the crux of this post: if virtually every other facet of halacha is not binding on members of this congregation, how could it be that this one teaching on abortion is binding–so binding, that a state’s prohibition of that teaching actually substantially burdens the free exercise of religion?

The confusion of the synagogue’s claims gets even worse:

Stated differently, if a person’s religious beliefs view halacha as non-binding–that is, the person is not required to take a certain action to comply with the halacha–it is difficult to claim that a government prohibition of that action is itself a substantial burden of religion. And if a person treats 99.9% of halacha as non-binding–including far more deeply-rooted rules governing Kosher slaughter and sabbath observance–yet deems as binding the interpretation of halacha that affects abortion, I think the person’s sincerity can be challenged. To be precise, this person may sincerely believe that her religion allows–and perhaps even encourages–an abortion in such cases, but does not sincerely believe that religion compels this action such that the prohibition substantially burdens her exercise.

Professor Sherry Kolb brought even more clarity to the discussion:

If one wanted to have a chance of prevailing on a “religious abortion” claim, one would have to assert that one’s religion requires one to have an abortion rather than that it merely allows one to have one. If one’s religion requires an abortion, then the state law that prohibits abortion would plainly interfere with one’s ability to practice one’s religion. But when would anyone’s religion require an abortion?

*     *     *     *

Apparently, Rabbi Barry Silver thinks that his woke agenda and that of his congregants legitimizes his manipulation of Jewish law. Unfortunately, his actions can influence the perceptions of Jews and non-Jews regarding Judaism and its many communities. I’m also saddened to know that Jewish leaders are not the only ones who choose to distort their religions in order to meet their political agendas.

Whenever possible, we need to protest these illegitimate claims and speak the truth. I anticipate that as some states determine their approach to prohibiting or legalizing abortion, some religious leaders will weigh in.

Count on it.

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  1. Red Herring Coolidge
    Red Herring
    @EHerring

    Western Chauvinist (View Comment):

    Jerry Giordano (Arizona Patrio… (View Comment):
    The woman hiring an abortionist to kill her baby is worse than the abortionist, in my view.

    I knew I could rely on you, Jerry.

    There is such a thing as invincible ignorance (women who are deprived of seeing an ultrasound by the abortionist may really not realize the full on wickedness of what they’re doing — especially young women who’ve been told their baby isn’t a real person (just a clump of cells) and don’t have your years of experience contemplating the issue). There are degrees of moral culpability.

    I believe most Christians would completely disagree with you on the culpability of the woman versus the doctor. The doctor knows exactly what he/she is doing, having been trained in the science of medicine and human reproduction.

    Agree with the ultrasound comment. It seems many change their minds if they see an ultrasound. They were deceived by their “doctors.” The doctors are all evil as far as I am concerned. If the woman learns and never lets that happen again, that is one thing. I wholeheartedly condemn those who celebrate abortion or who have multiple ones. 

    • #61
  2. Red Herring Coolidge
    Red Herring
    @EHerring

    Henry Racette (View Comment):

    Western Chauvinist (View Comment):

    Joker (View Comment):
    WC, that was me who called it murder.

    I agree with you, it’s murder. That’s the correct word for the act of intentionally killing an innocent.

    But, Henry called the woman who obtains an abortion a “murderer” so as to describe the impossibility of his preferred “compromise” if we acknowledge that abortion is murder. I reject the premise. I think there’s no compromise possible on describing the act of abortion as “murder,” but there are subtleties in assessing the culpability of the woman and therefore the “just” punishment for her, if any.

    It’s the doctors making their career (and their living) off of killing babies who are the murderers. I would also prosecute professionals who mutilate gender confused individuals with drugs or surgery.

     

    This seems to me to be splitting hairs more than a little. If performing an abortion is murder, then it seems that seeking out and paying for an abortion to be performed must be quite close to murder. And what of a woman who effectively performs her own abortion, for example by inducing a miscarriage?

    If abortion is murder, than the young woman who pays for one is hiring an assassin to murder another person. I don’t see any way around that. And I’m sorry, but I don’t think it’s productive to engage in such lexical gymnastics.

    The problem is the left has no guardrails. They were never for“ safe, legal, and rare,” just for legal. They could never be confined to just the period when it was just the “clump of cells,” but took the right up until birth, then even after delivery. These abortions are so horrible and occur when the baby feels pain. I cont even describe them, they are so horrible. But the left didn’t stop there, but then insisted those who see the practice abhorrent support and even become a party to abortions. Then, to maintain abortions, they bastardized our judicial system to maintain and advance abortion. It started with lies, was maintained with lies, and was overturned by the truth.

    • #62
  3. Red Herring Coolidge
    Red Herring
    @EHerring

    Henry Racette (View Comment):

    Stina (View Comment):
    I think the problem is, WC, that even though you can separate the naming from the typical punishment for murder, HR may be having a more difficult time with it.

    Stina, I appreciate the attempt at clarity, but that’s not quite it.

    The problem is that I think calling abortion “murder” but treating people who pay for abortions like normal people with whom you’d trust your kids isn’t consistent with how we treat people who pay to have murder committed.

    I do value clarity and honesty. Anyone who believes that abortion is murder should certainly say so, and I’ll respect their opinion. But honesty then compels them to acknowledge that, if abortion is murder, it necessarily follows that the abortionist is a murderer — and that the woman who seeks out and pays for an abortion is hiring a murderer to murder someone.

    When I said “lexical gymnastics” earlier, I was referring to the mental hoops one has to jump through to somehow conclude that what I just wrote isn’t true. One who commits murder is a murderer; one who pays for it is paying a murderer to commit murder.

    I’m saying nothing about punishment, nothing about moral choices, nothing about anything except the choice of the word “murder” in this context. And what I’m saying about that choice is that it isn’t consistent with the way we normally use the word, and its use leads to strange contradictions in our moral judgment — specifically, to our somehow accepting friends, family, and loved ones who pay to have murder committed as just regular people who may have made a mistake, but whom we are still comfortable being around and happy to have in our lives.

    I think we kind of water down the concept of “murder” when we use it that way, while simultaneously making it harder to engage in a useful dialog with people who favor legal abortion and may have a more conventional understanding of what “murder” means. Neither of those things seems productive to me.

    I have no qualms calling ripping apart limb by limb or puncturing the skull of a fully formed baby murder, especially since the baby can feel pain at that point. We would not draw and quarter a murderer but choose more humane methods of execution. 

    • #63
  4. Vance Richards Member
    Vance Richards
    @VanceRichards

     

    The rabbi isn’t the only one looking for a religious exemption . . .

    • #64
  5. Red Herring Coolidge
    Red Herring
    @EHerring

    Henry Racette (View Comment):

    Stina (View Comment):
    I think that’s what I was getting at. If we are going to call it murder, it has to be treated the way we treat murder. WC has no problem calling it murder and treating it different. You do. Hence disagreement.

    Again, not quite, but very close. And, again, I appreciate you trying to bring clarity to this.

    Let me try to be succinct.

    Most Americans don’t think abortion is “murder” — at least, not abortion very early in pregnancy.

    Most people who call abortion “murder” don’t think of people who pay for abortions like they would think of other people who pay for murder. So, even for these people, abortion isn’t “murder” in the sense that other kinds of murder are “murder.” It’s different, somehow, and when they say “murder” they mean something different from what we normally mean when we say “murder.”

    It isn’t productive to use highly polarizing words in non-standard ways when talking about a divisive issue.

    “Most” might be an exaggeration. There is a reason we call it “culture of death.” Abortion is polarizing. It lasted as long as it did because we hid its ugliness behind deceptive language such as “heath care, choice, reproductive freedom, clump of cells, “ etc.  If people want to defend something, perhaps they should be honest about what they are defending. The left refused to be honest.

    • #65
  6. Red Herring Coolidge
    Red Herring
    @EHerring

    Henry Racette (View Comment):

    Joker (View Comment):
    You say “It’s different, somehow…” How?

    It [the use of the word “murder”] is different this way: If we knew a woman who had paid someone to murder her four year old child, most of us would probably think twice about allowing our children to go over to her house. But most of us know someone who has had an abortion and yet is someone whom we are happy to allow to socialize with us and our children.

    That’s different.

    The train left the station a long time ago. What Democrats want to preserve now is easily called murder. They just couldn’t stop at the “clump of cells” stage.

    • #66
  7. Henry Racette Member
    Henry Racette
    @HenryRacette

    Red Herring (View Comment):

    Henry Racette (View Comment):

    Joker (View Comment):
    You say “It’s different, somehow…” How?

    It [the use of the word “murder”] is different this way: If we knew a woman who had paid someone to murder her four year old child, most of us would probably think twice about allowing our children to go over to her house. But most of us know someone who has had an abortion and yet is someone whom we are happy to allow to socialize with us and our children.

    That’s different.

    The train left the station a long time ago. What Democrats want to preserve now is easily called murder. They just couldn’t stop at the “clump of cells” stage.

    I agree that some on the left want to defend murder. But quite a few people want to defend the right to legal abortion in the first very few weeks of pregnancy. The problem with the phrase “abortion is murder” is that it covers the entire range, from abortion at three weeks to abortion at nine months.

    Red Herring (View Comment):

    Henry Racette (View Comment):

    Most Americans don’t think abortion is “murder” — at least, not abortion very early in pregnancy.

    “Most” might be an exaggeration.

    According to surveys (e.g., here), a significant majority (above 80%) of Americans think abortion should be legal in at least some cases; a simple majority (about 60%) think it should be generally legal, though with restrictions.

     

    • #67
  8. Stina Member
    Stina
    @CM

    From what I’m seeing, there is an unwillingness to punish mothers for aborting their babies as we do other murderers.

    If that is the “cheapening” of murder being discussed, then I agree, maybe avoid calling it murder until you are willing to have women pay the penalty we mete out for murder.

    However, if the justification for not calling it murder for the sake of “cheapening” the word is because you don’t think a mother destroying her child in what is supposed to be the safest place that child will ever know is not as heinous as other forms of murder, then that demonstrates a fundamental misunderstanding of what abortion is.

    • #68
  9. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn
    @SusanQuinn

    Henry Racette (View Comment):
    According to surveys (e.g., here), a significant majority (above 80%) of Americans think abortion should be legal in at least some cases; a simple majority (about 60%) think it should be generally legal, though with restrictions.

    Actually, Hank, even the pollsters point out the messiness of these results, due to differences in poll questions and the attitudes of the respondents. Because abortion is suchly an intensely personal topic, I’m coming to believe that we don’t really know how people feel. 

     I will be putting up a post on this shortly.

    • #69
  10. Joker Member
    Joker
    @Joker

    Just a reminder of why Roe was so consequential: up to the 1973 decision, abortion was illegal in (at least) most states. Roe suddenly overturned all the state laws that became law through an actual legislative process. Pretty sure it wasn’t a civil thing, abortionists were going to jail.

    • #70
  11. MarciN Member
    MarciN
    @MarciN

    What we want most of all is for there not to be unplanned pregnancies anymore. There’s no guaranteed good answer, and the best thing to do is to avoid it completely. There are a lot of disincentives we can adopt to keep girls and women and boys and men of childbearing age away from sex. We need to consider them. And I think DNA testing will change things too. There is no such thing as a fatherless child. Today it is easy to ascertain the name of a child’s father.

    • #71
  12. Red Herring Coolidge
    Red Herring
    @EHerring

    I can sympathize with Henry’s point, too. So many women grew up in a time when they were deceived by the pro-abortion crowd. Also, making it legal for so many years told them it was ok. To retroactively label them as murderers is against our concept of ex post facto laws. Many might already feel guilty over what they have done. They need healing and forgiveness, not a new mental health burden. However, from this day forward, I have no qualms calling it murder going forward.

    Isn’t it funny how the left has collective and ex post facto guilt to assign for slavery, a guilt spread to all white people past and present, but abortion has a different standard. [I do not include Henry Racette in this. He isn’t a leftie and I do not see his comments as fitting what I am describing here.]

    • #72
  13. Stina Member
    Stina
    @CM

    MarciN (View Comment):

    What we want most of all is for there not to be unplanned pregnancies anymore. There’s no guaranteed good answer, and the best thing to do is to avoid it altogether. There are a lot of disincentives we can adopt to keep girls and women and boys and men of childbearing age away from sex. We need to consider them. And I think DNA testing will change things too. There is no such thing as a fatherless child. Today it is easy to ascertain the name of a child’s father.

    I’d rather have unplanned pregnancies than abortion.

    Some people step up to be responsible adults when faced down with an unplanned baby. Other unfortunate couples are given the chance to adopt. Grandparents demonstrate grace and mercy to their un-ready child-parents.

    Is it perfect? No. Are there bad results? Yes. But abortion is always a bad result. The other way is not always a bad result.

    • #73
  14. Joker Member
    Joker
    @Joker

    Everything about the pro abortion movement is a deliberately deceptive con. “Women’s health” and “between a woman and her doctor” casually ignore the other person in the picture. Presumably the doctor they refer to performs abortions. And the term “women’s health” has been expanded way beyond what most people would think of as an ailment requiring medical intervention.

    They have to change the language of what they’re doing because they know what it is. They don’t want parents to know when a teen gets an abortion because they know what it is.

    We’ve been carefully taught.

    • #74
  15. Henry Racette Member
    Henry Racette
    @HenryRacette

    My interest here is much like my interest elsewhere in the cultural sphere: I want to make a difference. I think we are most likely to make a difference by finding ways to connect to people, and by trying to avoid unnecessarily divisive language.

    If I were talking to a frothing pro-abortion extremist who thought dismembering full-term unborn babies was just fine — and, unfortunately, there are such ghouls on the pro-abortion side — then I’d make no effort to find common ground. In fact, I wouldn’t even engage such a person, any more than I’d engage a devout socialist, unless there was an audience of normal people witnessing the event. Otherwise there’s just no point: extremists rarely change their minds.

    And, despite whatever impression I may be conveying, I don’t want to try to discourage people who think that all abortion should be illegal from calling for that. The strict anti-abortion folk are closer to my own position than the anything-goes pro-abortion ghouls: your average pro-abortion person would be unhappy with the restrictions I’d place on abortion, and certainly with the restrictions I’d tolerate being placed on abortion (since that would include an outright ban on abortion).

    We had for years a bumper sticker on the family van: “Abortion stops a beating heart.” It remains my favorite pro-life slogan because it is blunt, undeniably true, and yet strangely neutral: it invites people to think about the issue, without necessarily demanding any particular answer.

    I’ll leave this discussion with that. Abortion stops a beating heart.

    • #75
  16. Joker Member
    Joker
    @Joker

    Henry, I respect your opinion – it’s more mainstream than mine – we just disagree on those distinctions. My point was strictly to try to challenge normal thinking on the matter. 

    Man, just listened to a half hour of Ben Shapiro. Pretty persuasive taking down everyone from Brandon to AOC to Liz Warren. At double the pace of normal humans.

    Hat tip to the Kof C for gently changing minds.

    • #76
  17. Cassandro Coolidge
    Cassandro
    @Flicker

    The whole issue of public opinion and acceptance of abortion as murder or not, is one of the primary means of promoting the sale of abortions and the drawing and quartering of children — future human air breathers and thinkers.

    And yet if the truth were well available and widely known, there is still the cultural environment in which each abortion purchaser purchases the service.  And there is a so-called Overton window of acceptance that is being manipulated.  So public acceptance is a matter of PR or (as it was originally called) propaganda.

    And people tend to think without knowing it that if something is legal it is right.  And so the difference between murdering a baby in the womb being legal, they think it is different from wrapping a newborn in plastic wrap and leaving it is a bathroom garbage can which is at least nominally illegal (though I don’t think anyone’s been prosecuted for this).

    The question is not whether the populace sees abortion as the murder which it is, but whether abortion is in fact murder — which I argue that it clearly is.

    When we see rare fictional but moving movies of children being being manhandled and thrown alive and screaming into a fiery furnace, it is almost too much to comprehend.  And this is because we have never seen it, or heard of it actually being done.  And this disbelief about killing children is further fostered by the way that abortion is practiced.

    A woman never sees the procedure, her legs are draped.  I doubt she is ever shown the dismembered body parts, the face, the disjoined arms and legs.  The sucked out brain matter in a plastic jar.  There are no visitors or witnesses, to see the extraction, and to talk about it over coffee with the neighbors the next morning.

    It is medicalized.  And it is depersonalized.  If the woman undergoing an abortion were to be the one to press the suction button, or give permission every time an instrument is inserted, it would be a lot more clear to everyone that it is murder.

    And yet if everyone is indoctrinated that abortion is a good that should be shouted out the next day (to the applause of on-lookers); and only makes one’s life better with more choices, opportunities, and freedom; and it is the demonstration and culmination of every woman’s Right to exercise control over her body: then it will not only lose any remaining stigma but will be encouraged for abortion’s sake.

    With the promotion of shouting out one’s abortion, and protesting with fake blood dripping from one’s crotch and carrying a baby doll, it is only a matter of time before there will be an acceptance of videoing one’s abortion and posting it on twitter for everyone to admire.

    And after that, purveyors of death will move the Overton window to early infanticide.

    • #77
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