It is now several weeks after the war in Lebanon, and the heart still cries out in anguish over the loss of so many Jews, civilians and soldiers alike. It is especially horrific, knowing that many of those lives were snuffed out needlessly, many because of the corruption and ineptitude of our military hierarchy, and others because of the corruption and ineptitude of political leaders driven by personal ambition and the sycophantic desire to please America.
When wholesale carnage occurs on our highways, the culprits are at least hauled into court and charged with negligent homicide and reckless driving. In the recent war in Lebanon, the negligence was no less appalling, demanding a national commission of inquiry that has the power to affect real change and to punish those responsible.
Yet, there is another national inquiry that needs to be conducted in Israel, for another type of wanton slaughter, which is even more terrifying in the staggering numbers involved. What slaughter are we talking about? Israel's surprising rate of abortion.
For the sake of comparison: at the height of the second Intifada, which began in September 2000, some 1,000 Jews were killed in one year. On our highways, an average of 500 lives are lost each year. Now comes the knockout. According to government figures, 22,000 abortions are performed in Israel each year.
The Efrat organization claims the real number is double, when you include off-the-record abortions. The Efrat organization offers women a $1,000 baby grant for a year, including infant supplies, if they agree not to terminate their pregnancies just because of economic hardship or career advancement.
An Efrat spokesman, Tzvi Binn, says, "Since the founding of the State of Israel, more than one million potential Jewish children have been lost."
Rabbi Yehuda Levin, claims that these wholesale abortions constitute "a silent holocaust." He cites a chilling teaching of the Zohar, the central work of Kabbalah, that states: "He who destroys his own children, wrecks the handiwork of G-d, and brings hunger, plague and the sword upon the world."
"Should we be surprised that the sword has been unleashed against our people in the Holy Land?" he asks.
On August 24th, a front-page expose, written by Jerusalem Post health reporter Judy Siegel, revealed that pregnant woman in Israel are using government-sponsored, prenatal testing to determine the sex of the fetus, in order to abort healthy fetuses because they already have "too many" girls or boys at home. The Israeli Abortion Law permits certain categories of abortions, including victims of rape, under-age mothers, medically abnormal fetuses, or if having the baby would endanger the mother's physical or emotional health. It does not allowing aborting a child merely on the basis of sex.
Siegel based her expose on an article published in the August edition of the Israel Medical Association Journal. The researchers indicated that while most women claimed to undergo the prenatal test to discover possible congenital defects in the fetus, in many cases the real reason was to determine the sex of the child at the earliest possible stage in order to terminate an unwanted boy or girl.
In addition to its being a clear violation of the Abortion Law, Dr. Mordechai Halperin, head of medical ethics at Israel's Health Ministry, regarded the revelation as shocking: "Killing healthy fetuses because families have 'too many' of this or that sex is immoral and violates universal ethics."
Since a legal abortion is only permitted after the approval of an official committee of doctors and social workers, these women either resort to black-market abortions, or convince the committee with fabricated stories.
Convincing these committees does not seem to be a difficult task. For example, in 1999, 20,581 women submitted applications to the abortion committees. Of this number, 18,785 (96%) were approved.
It is interesting to note that the ruling of Jewish Law is far less lenient. In his well-known treatise on abortion, Rabbi Dr. Immanuel Jakobovits, the late Chief Rabbi of the United Kingdom, wrote:
While the destruction of an unborn child is never regarded as a capital act of murder, unless and until the head or the greater part of the child has emerged from the birth canal, it does constitute a heinous offense except when indicated by the most urgent medical considerations. The foremost concern is the safety of the mother. Hence, in Jewish law an abortion is mandatory whenever there is a genuine fear that a continued pregnancy might involve a grave hazard to the life of the mother, whether physical or psychiatric, such as the risk of suicide, following previous experiences of mental breakdown.
More difficult to determine, and still widely debated in recent rabbinic writings, is the judgment on abortions in cases of risks to the mother's health rather than to her life; of rape or incest; and of fears of physical or mental defects in children born to mothers who had German measles (rubella) or took certain teratogenic drugs (e.g., thalidomide) during the first months of pregnancy. Quite recently, several leading authorities have reaffirmed the Jewish opposition to abortion even in these cases, branding it as an "appurtenance of murder." But some others have lately given more lenient rulings in these circumstances, provided the operation is carried out within the first forty days following conception, or at least within the first three months. However, whatever the verdict in these particular cases, they are, of course, exceptional, and Jewish law would never countenance abortions for purely social or economic reasons.
It should be noted that rabbis are generally not members of Israel's special abortion committees. This may be a reason why abortions are so easily obtained.