In the November general election, South Dakota will have a referendum that could overturn its law that bans abortions, even where the woman has been raped, is the victim of incest, would suffer long-term medical problems, or would be unable to have future children. The first of the political ads are running, so I thought this post would be appropriate (and certainly in the style my readers have come to expect….). From the archives:
Well, that got your attention, didn’t it?
Of course, I realize that it’s utterly inappropriate to introduce religion into the abortion debate.
(Thankfully, South Dakotans appear to be much smarter than their elected officials.)
As you probably have heard by now, the South Dakotan legislative solons have decreed that the only legal abortions allowed in that state are those that prevent the death of the mother. Not the health of the mother, or her ability to have additional children. If childbirth were to result in a stroke or brain damage, you still couldn’t have an abortion. If childbirth were to make it impossible a woman to have any more children, too bad.
When it comes to the excesses of the Christian Republicans, I’m tired of reading off the Tinkerbell script. What the South Dakota lege has done is immoral, and an infringement on the religious freedoms of others. The South Dakota forced childbirth law that means a Jewish woman (even one just passing through who needed medical care) would have to violate Jewish religious law.
Regarding abortion, there is no debate in Jewish law whatsoever on one point: if carrying a pregnancy to term would harm the physical welfare–not the life, the welfare–of the mother, or her ability to bear future children, the fetus is termed a “pursuer” (rodef). In other words, if a pregnancy were carried to term and would cause long-term damage to the woman, the fetus is the moral equivalent of a criminal chasing after her with the intent to do harm. It is not a blessed little ‘snowflake.’ Under these circumstances, the moral option is to terminate the pregnancy.
Regarding the title of this post, I’m not backing away from it. The state of South Dakota has made a decision that makes living a Jewish life incompatible with following the law of the land. So much for the vaunted ‘Judeo-Christian’ tradition that conservatives keep blathering about. It’s clear that the ‘Judeo’ part was nothing more than a fig leaf to mask the ‘religious’ right’s bigotry–although how this wasn’t obvious from the get-go escapes me. For any conservative Christians reading this, you are not the ‘oppressed’, you are the oppressors. Stop with your ‘Daniel in the lion’s den’ complex.
And to Jewish Republicans: you were warned this madness would happen. If the South Dakota forced child birth law is not found unconstitutional, it will be passed in other states. Did your parents and grandparents come to this country so their children and grandchildren would be forced to live according to the dictates of Christian zealots? Did you learn nothing from 1,500 years of history? Shame on you.
an aside: I hope someone out there is preparing an amicus brief based on the separation of church and state. Yes, it’s like nailing Al Capone on income taxes, but take it where you can get it.