There are approximately one million Orthodox Jews in the United States. Rabbinic bodies like Coalition for Jewish Values, Rabbinical Council of America, Rabbinical Alliance of America, and Agudath Israel collectively number thousands of Orthodox rabbis. American non-Jews never hear of any of these. Isn’t that strange?
In Judaism, the rabbis determined that the soul enters the fetus at forty days. Until then, many authoritative rabbinical decisors are more lenient on abortion questions, while others still are quite strict. But once forty days have passed since conception,the fetus is deemed a life. The discussion thereupon shifts to balancing the mother’s bodily integrity against that of the fetus to live.
Of course women have bodily rights. No one should touch them without their permission, stroke their hair, lay a shoulder across their arms. Even so, the Torah reminds us that our bodies actually are receptacle custodians for our souls, and we must maintain certain restrictions that negate “Our Bodies, Our Selves.” For example, we are prohibited from tattooing our bodides or from making cuts in our skin as expressions of mourning.
Where does that leave abortion? Killing? Murder? Or just a variant on internal cleansing?
At some point when that fetus’s heart is beating, its limbs have taken shape, and it is making a significant debut on the ultrasound monitor and within sonograms, fair-minded people acknowledge that it is a life. For the vast majority of people, the moral dilemma can be avoided in most cases, not all, simply by their exercising personal responsibility. Responsible people typically do not find themselves with unwanted pregnancies. Outside of instances of rape and certain other outlier instances, there really ought be no need for massive numbers of abortions.
According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), there have been 45 million abortions in America since 1970. There were approximately 200,000 in 1970, and the number jumped to 763,000 in 1974. It kept rising to 1,429,000 in 1990, and it then started a downward spiral descending to “only” 638,000 in 2015. A simple graphic shows that abortions predominantly have impacted the population numbers of Black and Hispanic America. African-American women are three times as likely as Caucasians to undergo an abortion; Latinas twice as likely.
Ironically, Republican conservatives who lead the fight against Ro v. Wade and abortion on demand, who marched for life, by now would have been wiped out politically if they had won their battle. Given the propensity of Blacks and Hispanic Americans to vote Democrat Left, and the greater propensity of liberal Caucasian women than their married conservative counterparts to abort, the twenty million or so fetuses aborted between 1970 and 1990 would have become voters by now and very probably would have tilted elections leftward in several states now and for decades to come. Ironically, it has been the pro-choice movement that has allowed Republican conservatives in America still to enjoy any chance at all come election time, saving the other 49 states from turning into California, which almost-literally has become a one-party state.
In Israel, too, the numbers of these murders are horrifying. On one hand, Israel’s abortion ratel has declined steadily since 1988. Compared to the rest of the world, abortion rates in Israel are “moderate.” Thus, by 2016, Israel abortion rates had dropped steadily to 9 per 1,000 women of childbearing age, lower than England (16.2) and the United States (13.2). And 99% of abortions in Israel are performed during first trimester. About 20,000 abortions take place in Israel every year.
One revisits the words of former Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam:
When we talk about third-trimester abortions, these are done with the consent of obviously the mother, with the consent of the physicians, more than one physician, by the way. And it’s done in cases where there may be severe deformities, there may be a fetus that’s non-viable. So in this particular example, if a mother is in labor, I can tell you exactly what would happen. The infant would be delivered. The infant would be kept comfortable. The infant would be resuscitated if that’s what the mother and the family desired, and then a discussion would ensue between the physicians and the mother.
The word “abortion” is very sterile and gentle. It is a term like a “procedure.” What does an abortion actually entail?
According to Planned Parenthood, an abortion entails suctioning the “pregnancy tissue” out of the woman’s body. That sounds OK. At home when we vacuum, sometimes the machine suctions a dirty tissue from the floor. Other pro-choice websites likewise describe suctioning the “pregnancy.” Webmd describes a process of a “suction machine” inserted into the uterus to “clear out its contents.” Very sterile and genteel. The removal of “pregnancy tissue,” suctioning the “pregnancy,” clearing out the “contents.”
But what do those nouns — tissue, pregnancy, uterus contents — mean?
Often it entails injecting a potassium compound into a fetus’s heart to stop it from beating. A short time into the pregnancy the fetus head gets too big to extract out of the woman, so it first must be cleared of its “gray matter,” the brain contents. Then the head can be crushed to a more manageable size for extraction, perhaps pulled out by forceps, perhaps by vacuum suction. Suction likewise vacuums out the limbs, the different body parts, the crushed head. As with all suction devices, the vacuuming procedure obviously tears limbs from limbs.
National Orthodox rabbinical organizations have issued statements on abortion in recent years. the Rabbinical Council of America said this, in pertinent part:
Jewish law opposes abortion, except in cases of danger to the mother. Most authorities consider feticide an act of murder; others deem it an act akin to the murder of potential life. There are Jewish legal scholars who permit, in extenuating circumstances, the abortion of compromised fetuses.The RCA maintains that “abortion on demand,” even before twenty-four weeks from the commencement of pregnancy, is forbidden. There is no sanction to permit the abortion of a healthy fetus when the mother’s life is not endangered. The RCA supports that part of [a] law that permits abortion, even at a late stage, when the mother’s life is at risk.
Rabbi Daniel Korobkin, former president of the RCA, said, “The removal of any restriction from abortion access and the redefining of the word ‘homicide’ to exclude abortion, indicate a further erosion of the moral values of our society, where killing babies is no longer construed as immoral in any way, even when the fetus has a measure of personhood, actual or potential.”
Leading Torah scholars such as Rabbi Moshe Feinstein, Rabbi Joseph Soloveitchik and Rabbi Yaakov Kamenetsky publicly called such abortion “murder,” thus highlighting the gravity with which we must approach this issue. As with most medical issues, there may be other considerations that enter into the equation that require consultation with a medical professional and a competent rabbi. However, the intentional termination of a fetus should never be done casually as there are two lives at risk — the mother’s and the unborn child’s.
The Left Mediacracy ignores these Orthodox rabbinic statements, instead ferreting within their Left echo chamber to find the George Soros types in the Jewish community, including the ADL that has been taken over by former Obama White House personnel, to create the alternative reality that fosters and advances the Left narrative.
But for Jews who actually practice Judaism, who abide by the kosher dietary rules and who observe the Jewish Sabbath as it is constituted, the approach is in sync with that of Christians and fundamentalist Protestants, devout Catholics, and even secular and atheist Americans who cannot countenance poisoning the heart of a fetus to stop its beating, sucking its brains out of its head, crushing its cranium, and vacuuming its arms, legs, and other body parts — except in the most extreme of circumstances.
Adapted by the writer for Arutz Sheva from a version of this article that first appeared here in The American Spectator.
Rabbi Prof. Dov Fischer is Senior Contributing Editor at The American Spectator, adjunct professor of law at two prominent Southern California law schools, Senior Rabbinic Fellow at the Coalition for Jewish Values, Rabbi of Young Israel of Orange County, California, and has held prominent leadership roles in several national rabbinic and other Jewish organizations including Zionist Organization of America and regional boards of the American Jewish Committee and B’nai B’rith Hillel Foundation. He was Chief Articles Editor of UCLA Law Review, clerked for the Hon. Danny J. Boggs in the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit, and served six years on the Executive Committee of the Rabbinical Council of America. His writings have appeared in Newsweek, National Review, Wall Street Journal, New York Post, Los Angeles Times, Federalist, Jerusalem Post, Israel Hayom, and other major Jewish and Israeli Hebrew media.