Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Do Jews Love: Abortion?

Maybe love is too strong of a word. But after reading this bit in Slate on how abortion is causing illegal immigration, it got me thinking. First of all, to address that issue specifically, the American birth rate is declining, which is bad for us in terms of social security and all of that. How do we solve this? Welcome immigrant populations: they are more likely to reproduce in higher numbers, are (often) willing to work to make a better life, and currently they pay into the Social Security system, but cannot withdraw. Which is unfair. But that is another discussion for another time.

Ok, seriously, about abortion. For the "traditionally observant" Jewish view, check out Rabbi Gil Student's research on Hirhurim. I've linked to the first of four pieces that he's posted. Basically: we're not sure how we feel about elective abortion, but for the sake of the mother's [physical] health you can abort the child up until the moment of birth. Then it is a real person. Also, as a side note, the "fetus" or "group of molecules" or whatever is considered "as water" for the first 4o days after conception. This makes RU-486 and very early abortions questionable, but more likely allowable.

Anyway, Rabbi Student also points out that "many Jews support the pro-choice movement," so it is unsurprising that when listing the reasons that Orthodox Jews should have voted for Ken Blackwell, Avromi, of the blog How Orthodox Jews Should Vote, puts the fact that Blackwell is pro-choice first. Shmarya of Failed Messiah agrees with Rabbi Student both in that Judaism does not take a single stand on abortion, and that Judaism's stand should not be used as the platform for a pro-choice movement. Dovbear disagrees, he says that pro-choice legislation is "torah true," as the torah permits abortions in some cases, so abortion must be legal if only so that it may occur in those cases. In the same vein Fashionista & Terpy decry the marriage between religious Jews and the religious Christian right, especially when it comes to abortion; just like Dovbear, they point to a nuanced view of abortion in Jewish literature that is not part of the Christian conversation.

If you are not religion-centric and are looking for logical justification for/against abortion the Jewish Atheist has a really intersting statement of belief (yes, I know, it is ironic in context). He points out that the argument that "abortion is murder" is circular because "murder" is by definition an unlawful killing, so this argument is akin to claiming that abortion should be criminalized because it's criminal."

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