Tuesday, June 28, 2022

The Dirtiest Trick

In the 1990s, some Jewish recalcitrant husbands hit upon a new and particularly horrible tactic for hurting and blackmailing their estranged wives. By using kiddushei ketanah, they could report that they secretly betrothed their young daughters to someone, rendering the girls unable to marry. Only two cases were publicized, one from the US and one from Canada, but a men's organization dishonestly named "Shalom Bayis" endorsed the practice and claimed that around 20 others had already implemented it. 

What could be done to stop such dirty tricks? Various solutions were proposed, and a posthumously-discovered solution from Rav Shlomo Zalman Auerbach was eventually implemented - though not accepted by all. But until this solution was unearthed, several people proposed using secular law. One lawyer was looking into applying laws regarding extortion and endangerment of minors, while Sheldon Silver proposed passing a law making kiddushei ketana a felony. In a chapter on this topic in The Wed-Locked Agunot: Orthodox Jewish Women Chained to Dead Marriages, the authors note that Rabbi J. David Bleich was opposed to this tactic, as per his general approach:

"Rabbi J. David Bleich, a prolific writer on halakhic issues, objected to involving civil law. He noted that halakhic betrothals are meaningless under civil law. After all, he pointed out, the girls are not actually being forced to live with their "husbands," which would be statutory rape. Bleich warned against the danger of harnessing the power of the state to religious law. He did not want civil courts to examine the issue of whether the girls' marriage prospects are harmed. Bleich had a record of opposition to mobilizing civil law to deal with issues regarding halakhic marriage and divorce. He was highly critical of the 1992 New York State Gett Law that had been engineered by Silver and COLPA. Bleich condemned the father but said the girl could not marry unless she received a gett or the death of the unknown husband was proven. He called for a "communal ban" on this practice, meaning that going forward the practice would have no binding effect. But the rabbis did not take up his call, and even had they done so, it would not have helped little girls betrothed by their fathers before such a ban was implemented." (Note that in his Tradition article on the topic, R. Bleich acknowledges that actually implementing an effective communal ban on such a person is unrealistic.)

All this is disturbingly relevant now, thirty years later. The overturning of Roe v. Wade enables the Christian approach to abortion to be enforced in various states. R. Bleich recently welcomed this, declaring that Judaism owes a debt of gratitude to the Catholic church (even though it means that women who should be getting abortions from a halachic perspective will have a difficult time doing so). It is strange that he rejects using secular law to enforce Torah ideals for helping women and girls, even when such laws would be fully in accordance with Torah principles, but he welcomes using Christianity-based law to prohibit abortion, even though such laws are not fully in accordance with Torah principles.

It should be stressed: The Christian approach to abortion is very, very different from the Jewish approach. The opinion of most classical rabbinic authorities is that a fetus is not a life and the prohibition against abortion is not based on it being any form of murder. And accordingly, abortion is permitted and even required in various cases where the Christianity-based laws in several states would not permit it. Thus, as Jews, we cannot welcome the overturning of Roe v. Wade.


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172 comments:

  1. Right but what is the legal argument based on US constitutional law that allows the federal government to override state law (which will be based on the this question being on the ballot box) on this issue?

    Roe

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    1. 14th Amendment. It was specifically written to do that. The reason was that after the Civil War, and the ratification of the 13th Amendment abolishing slavery, some southern states had tried to continue slavery under other names, to continue to deny Black people citizenship, and to continue some of the other aspects of the Confederacy which had been what would be today called a totalitarian state. (The term hadn't been invented yet.)

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    2. Why did the 6 judges who overturned the ruling not consider the 14th amendment?

      Roe?

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    3. Roe v Wade was specifically decided on a "right to privacy" not specified in the Constitution. It was built up from an earlier specious SCOTUS decision, Griswold v Connectictut.

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    4. Thank you "rabbi" slifkin for bending over backwards to demonstrate how liberal you are. The vast majority of world renown poskim, including R Moshe, actually maintain unequivocally that abortion is a form of murder.

      You are a shill. A dult with a compromised level of intelligence. Your books are silly. You are silly. Everyone knows you are a ruined person. You are a wannabe academic and we all know it.

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    5. Clearly your bais ya’akov didn’t teach teach Chumash. An assault that results in a miscarriage results only in a financial penalty…..

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    6. Leah, you are clearly ignorant of the nuances of R' Moshe's views - not least when it came to his opposition to religious attempts to overturn Roe v Wade.

      You also are obviously ignorant of what the majority of "world renown" (sic) poskim hold on the matter today - which is generally R' Waldenberg's position.

      What's funny, though, is that you try to insult R' Slifkin's intelligence, but can't even spell the insult correctly. Hilarious.

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    7. Dovidleh, getting all tangled up about the spelling shows how little you have to offer. You have no idea what you are talking about and resort to irrelevant things.

      Practically all famous poskim, including R' Moshe, hold that abortion is flat out assur, a form of ritzicha...get your facts straight, pal. Outside your little funny bubble perhaps, the vast majority of frum Jews wouldn't dream of killing a fetus, chalilah.

      And the silly argument about financial penalty....your point is that this form of murder is not punishable by death? Ok. That doesn't change the facts.

      And of-course we know that Hashem will get even with anyone who hurts or kills their own baby in their stomach. Your body is NOT yours. It belongs to Hashem. He will make you pay dearly for ending a life.

      And yes, slifkin is an academic wannabe. A loser with a compromised intelligence. His "proofs" throughout his books are conjecture.. A horrified liberal wannabe. And a failed human to boot.

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    8. Just curious, as a "horrified liberal wannabe," what is that I am purportedly "horrified" at? And if I am only a liberal wannabe and not an actual liberal, does that mean that I am a conservative?

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    9. Slifkin, if you understood women, you would know they are prone to hyperbole, more so than men. Only you, and your sycophantic ilk, take a statement like "horrified liberal wannabe" literally and demand an explanation. The TL;DR is right there. You are a loser.

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    10. You are horrified of our Mesorah. It certainly goes way beyond embarrassment.

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    11. Close, but no cigar. Just as 17 years ago, I'm horrified when people take the unusual opinion of a few 20th century rabbinic authorities and claim that it is THE mesorah.

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    12. Leah, you are flat-out wrong. The majority of prominent poskim today do not hold that abortion is retzicha.

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    13. I'm referring to our Mesorah, not "a few 20th century rabbinic authorities." You have mocked and denigrated our Mesorah.

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    14. What a thread.

      >The main spelling mistake is "Leah". It should say "Leib" or such.

      >The rabbi apparently wants to be a horrified liberal. He wants to be a liberal on the outside but horrified on the inside.

      >Spot on Shimshon, but more so. Not only women are prone to hyperbole--men too. No?

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    15. The word you are looking for is incensed. Your anger at such is palpable in every post. But you are indeed horrified by our (our?) Mesorah. It's an embarrassment to you. If you weren't horrified by it, you wouldn't be incensed at those loyal to it.

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    16. כל הפוסל במומו פוסל

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    17. Slifkin: "a few 20th century rabbinic authorities". Um, no the majority. And those majority include the world famous poskim of yesteryear. World famous means not some rabbi only known in some local circles. Not pulpit rabbis. Ones typically that spent their youth under the tutalige of famous gedolim and poskim...

      And not modern type rabbis that use English first names, ashamed of their Jewish names, or those who became rabbis through smicha programs and spent equal or more time getting secular degrees than studying Torah. And not those who have the ear of mostly amei Haaretz like yourself. And not those that celebrate yom yerushalayim in their shuls. Not ones with Israeli flags in their shuls.

      Of the ones who lived and breathed Torah and earned wide acclaim, almost all maintain that abortion is a crime.

      Regarding "horrific liberal wannbee". Yes you are deep down a conservative like most frum Jews. You know how horrible homosexual activity is. How grotesque abortion is. But you want to sound liberal. The haredi hater. The wise man who thinks he knows what others dont. But you can't even make people believe you are that! So you act horrified. Oh no! A womans right to choose! Like a crying baby. But we all know what you are . A wannabee person. And a bitter person who can't allow bygones to be bygones. Who can't move forward. Who is consumed with hate.

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    18. At the risk of just stirring the pot, I can't leave the above misconceptions unanswered.

      There is not even a shred of doubt that the Ramban, Rashba, Ritva, Ran, Sma', Radvaz, Yaabetz, and later on, Rav Ovadia Yosef and Rav Eliezer Waldenburg all held that abortion is in essence a monetary issue. Rashi on Sanhedrin 72b says that the fetus "is not yet a נפש", and all commentators directly on the daf say the same. So does the Maharal in Gur Aryeh, Shemot 22:21. The Ramban and his students and the Sma' all use the fact that the Torah requires damages paid as evidence that it is a monetary issue. [For those familiar with Gemara, the fact that you pay means that is is not even tinged with a capital offense - if it were, we would employ "קים ליה בדרבה מיניה" to exempt the perpetrator from all monetary payments.] This does not mean that these Rishonim disregard the fetus, [eg you are allowed to break Shabbat to save even the fetus, when there is no danger to the life of the woman, according to many], just that ending the fetus's life is not considered murder. See Yabia Omer Even HaEzer 4:1 for a range of sources, even many that say that abortion is either *permitted*, period, or *only prohibited rabbinically*. He indeed rejects them in his own opinion, but they are definitely out there. Rav Ovadia himself is much more lenient for a chemically induced abortion as well.

      In contemporary times, Rav Herschel Schachter and Raav Willig in YU are quite Meikel on this issue, and that is also what they say about Rav Asher Weiss, Rav Dovid Cohen, and others. There are many many stories even of Rav Moshe, Rav Shlomo Zalman and Rav Aharon Solocheichik refusing to accept an abortion question, and sending the asker to Rav Waldenburg.

      None of this is to attempt to negate the opinions of the Rambam and Shulchan Aruch [who quotes the Rambam verbatim], Re'em (in Shemos), Noda B'Yehuda, R. Meir Simcha, as well as Rav Moshe, Rav Shlomo Zalman Auerbach and Rav Aharon Lichtenstein and others [this is the prevalent opinion of Briskers, who follow the first Rav Chaim in sefer, as well as in Hichos Retzicha] who say that abortion is murder.

      However, the ignorance evident in the comments above about "Um, no the majority. And those majority include the world famous poskim of yesteryear. World famous means not some rabbi only known in some local circles. Not pulpit rabbis. Ones typically that spent their youth under the tutalige of famous gedolim and poskim..." is nothing less that lunacy. Anyone who learns the Sugya from beginning to end and is not of the stature to have their own opinion on the matter [eg Rav Moshe] will come to the conclusion that BY FAR the majority of Rishonim and Achronim are of the opinion that abortion is not murder.

      FYI I am not taking any stance on Roe v. Wade, just stating what I have found in Gemara Halacha and Psak.

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    19. Furthermore, since you claim that "The vast majority of world renown poskim, including R Moshe, actually maintain unequivocally that abortion is a form of murder", and repeat this later, I would appreciate some sources. I have listed more than you, but I also listed even more than that who say it is not murder.

      Substantiate your claims or refrain from making them.

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    20. @Moshe Abrams, given the subject of the post was abortion in America vis a vis the repeal of Roe v. Wade, and America is 99% goyish, the blanket statement Leah made is not inaccurate. That being said, regarding Jews, abortion may be a commercial issue when it is inadvertent. What does the halacha say about elective abortion? And even if such were not actionable by man in this world, what will Hashem do those participate in such? There is no pass for such horror.

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    21. I'm sorry moshe abrams, but while its a breath if fresh air to hear someone on this blog who is not an am haaretz, what you are saying is not accurate. All those rishonim in sanhedrin 72b and niddah 44b are saying that there is no capital punishment (and thats why no kalba"m) because the fetus does not have the status of a nefesh. That does not make it a purely monetary issue. It can still be an issur to abort a fetus. In fact the language of the rishonim proves this as they are clear that the abortion is only allowed because the mothers life is in danger.

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    22. Why does that explain why there's no klbm"m? According to R' Nechunya it applies even to misa b'dei shamayim. Also, what about their language leads you to that conclusion?

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    23. Also, anonymous you didn't understand abrams's comment. He conceded that even if it's essentially a monetary issue it could be assur, just it's not *murder* according to many shitos. Accordingly, there could be sufficient countervailing cheshbonos (such as nivul HaMeis in arachin or similar psychological distress).

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    24. Strange that you speak of amei haaretz if you believe that monetary issue means permitted in all circumstances.

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    25. My goal in life, to be an non-am haaretz 😂.

      @shimshon I said that I'm not taking a stance on Roe v Wade. I was responding mainly to @Leah who was making demonstrably false claims.

      As for elective abortion, I will admit that even with the sources I quoted what I know of the ethos of Halacha would view an "abortion of convenience" as nothing less than a moral travesty. The very fact that there is no coherent definition of "life" that can exclude a fetus is the reason [in my opinion, and I realize that many argue on this] that the gemara says that non-jews are obligated in this command. It is something they should be able to figure out, and is included in שופך דם האדם. In my opinion, even for the Rishonim that hold that it is monetary, there is still a "general" or "meta" murder involved in abortion, even in the cases that it is permitted. Another proof for this is that the Gemara says, and the SA brings this in Even HaEzer 1, that he who does not procreate is like he spilled blood, prevents Moshiach, and "lessens the דמות" [?].

      What this means למעשה is that someone in tune with the ethos of Halacha would not do an abortion out of convenience or if the pregnancy is due to negligence.

      Re: Roe and Dobbs, I will admit that until recently I thought that it was kind of crazy to suggest that abortion is protected under the provision for privacy. However, it has occurred to me recently that if we permit abortions for a good reason [danger to the mother, psychological harm, physical harm etc] and include in that early term abortions, IF we then question the motives of the women who want one, THAT is indeed an invasion of privacy. I am willing to debate that though.

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    26. @Anonymous
      We might have to agree to disagree, unless we want to hash out קים ליה on this blog. I agree that abortion is אסור unless necessary. However, the איסור according to those Rishonim is the איסור of חבלה, sourced from "לא יוסיף", and not "לא תרצח".

      The difference between the two איסורים is what threshold we need in order to permit an abortion. If it is actual murder, and there's just an exemption from capital punishment, you would need the fetus to actually be attempting murder in order to do an abortion [as indeed the Rambam and those who follow him say]. If the איסור is חבלה, many other issues may come into play. What will *not* come into play, from what I have read, is when a woman just "happens" to not want to be pregnant. Being that I am not a Posek I can't be sure, but I find it unlikely that it would be מותר. But even more, my feeling is that most women that are שומרי תורה would also feel that way, and probably would not ask a posek if it is permissible.

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    27. "An assault that results in a miscarriage results only in a financial penalty" So its ok for me to punch your stomach as long as a i pay you afterwards

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    28. As I said, about stirring the pot. I am not אחראי for those who don't understand what I said due to their lack on knowledge of the sugyas involved. This is quite literally the largest sugya that I know of, connected to פיקוח נפש, רציחה, עובר ירך אמו, פרו ורבו, חבלה, עיקרי אמונה and even a general methodology of psak. So please do not put words in my mouth.

      @Dave: the way קיל ליה works is that even if you are off the hook from the death penalty, you pay no money. That is why someone who kills a טריפה or a גוסס or who kills indirectly [through גרמא] or without witnesses or any of the cases where he's not prosecuted in בית דין, the murderer is still off the hook from the money. There are no "civil suits" of capital crimes in Halacha. That is how the proof of the Ramban and his followers works - if the attacker has to pay, it is not רציחה even a little bit. If it were, you would be exempt from the money, since it would be a non-prosecutable murder. [What the Rambam could respond to this is debatable, but I have suggested in other venues that just like in a שור שהרג, you have a murder victim but no murderer, in an attacker-caused-miscarriage you have a murder but no murder victim. Debatable, I know.]

      The fact that רבי נחוניא בן הקנה says קם ליה even in cases of מיתה בידי שמים and כרת is irrelevant, and may actually prove my point. A) the halacha does not follow רבי נחוניא. B) If abortion was a crime that entailed מיתה בידי שמים, then רבי נחוניא should exempt the attacker. Since he can't (since the Torah says that he pays), it must be that even רבי נחוניא agrees that it is in essence a monetary issue.

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    29. @Jew Well, As you can see I do not think it is permitted in all circumstances. See my comment about not being responsible for people misunderstanding me based on their own lack on knowledge of the relevant sugos.

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    30. @Yehuda: It is not ok. It is אסור because of the איסור to injure another Jew. (Actually in the topic of נזיקין, the Shulchan Aruch explicitly leaves out any prohibition of causing damage to another person's property. Not our problem now though.)

      A similar argument can be made about "regular" חבלה. If you cut off someone's arms and legs and then pay them, obviously there is much more that is wrong here than a "regular" חבלה - but that is the איסור on the books that you did. [This is kind of like catching Al Capone on tax fraud - everyone knows that he did many worse things, but that's what he was caught on.]

      Another example is David Hamelech's reaction to Natan Hanavi's "story" - "כִּי בֶן-מָוֶת הָאִישׁ הָעֹשֶׂה זֹאת. ו וְאֶת-הַכִּבְשָׂה, יְשַׁלֵּם אַרְבַּעְתָּיִם: עֵקֶב, אֲשֶׁר עָשָׂה אֶת-הַדָּבָר הַזֶּה, וְעַל, אֲשֶׁר לֹא-חָמָל."
      It was obvious to David that the "crime" of the perpetrator (ie himself) was worse than the punishment that we can give him.

      In summary, you cannot injure anyone, even if you plan on paying. The payment is all we can make you do if you did injure someone, even if the payment does not cover the full extent of the crime. The rest of the 5 types of damages try to cover those payments (צער ריפוי שבת ובושת), but even with those it might not be covered. That does not mean it is permitted.

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    31. Moshe,
      You misunderstood my (and I think Jew well's) point. I was agreeing with you and responding to antonymous.

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    32. @moshe and @Dave - I think you both misunderstood my point.
      When one says that something is "essentially a monetary issue" it gives the impression that it does mot involved violating any issurim. ie. that one who causes the death of a fetus is just obligated in financial restitution in the same way that one who borrows money is obligated to pay it back (with no issurim being violated). Whether is chavala or haschasas zera or retzicha mideraban, these are all serious isurim and cannot be described as "essentially monetary" as you did. Of course since they are not on the level of actual retzicha deoraaisa there will be more room to be lenient when coming up against other factors.

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    33. @moshe abrams
      Dave is right, I wasn't writing to you, but to the anonymous who questioned your very words.

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  2. The overturning of Roe Vs. Wade is a necessary precondition for implementing halachic restrictions on abortion (hell, it's a necessary condition for implementing the rules that existed in Israel until yesterday when the leader of a party with five seats abolished them by personal fiat because democracy). All gentile nations are obligated to impose these restrictions. The mainstream pro life position is essentially identical to the halachic position, so it is unlikely that many states will impose restrictions on halachically mandated abortions. Even if they did, the number of halachically forbidden abortions that will be stopped dwarves these by a factor of at least 100. So absolutely everything you have said is wrong, again.

    Parenthetically, all good women are viscerally horrified by abortion. This is the reason that the formal pro-life movement, which is totally dominated by women, takes such extreme and uncompromising positions. Obviously, these opinions are based on emotion and we shouldn't take account of them in determining halacha or law, but it is worth bearing in mind because any woman who is 'pro-choice' is ipso facto a wrongun who envisions herself oneday dismembering her baby to facilitate hypergamy and or recreation. If you are in a relationship with such a woman, then you should probably end it today. If you already have kids, then make sure you have the best divorce lawyer on speedial, because you will need it the second she sees an opportunity.

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    1. Your whole "parenthesis" paragraph in particular shows how you didn't even use your own two braincells to think about the issue. Regurgitating what other equally dumb people told you. It's sad for you really. I bet your "advice" to married men is because you can't get anyone and you want everyone to be alone like you. I could say mean things to you like you say mean things about these women. But I don't condone being mean to people who are already so pathetic.

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    2. Notwithstanding ones right to freedom of speech, I found your ugly, ad hominem, vulgar, cheap-shot, juvenile comment to be trolling at its worst. Typically, hiding behind your Anonymous name shows you lack the courage to speak in the open. Fortunately you did not leave your name - otherwise the 'Chillul Hashem" it engenders would have been attached to a real person.

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    3. If you think that halakha concerning abortion is essentially identical to the pro-life position, then you know very little about one or the other of them, and perhaps both.

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    4. Gavriel M's respondents clearly don't know what hypergamy means or how it applies to female psychology.

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    5. Yeah so he can call women names but that's his freedom of speech and not hillul Hashem. Right. I guess that's what passes for fair opinions among some men. Sorry not sorry if he's being dumb and mean I'm going to call him so. If he can't stomach it, he can take his weird resentment elsewhere. I'm sure he's so brave, he will be sure to tell all of that in front of actual women instead of trolling here. Good riddance.

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    6. @Yehoshua. I meant the mainstream position of people who identify as pro-life. As I indicated in my comment, the headline pro-life position is more extreme (except as regards punishing guilty mothers). This is partly because of catholic influence, but, more importantly, because of the influence of women in the movement whose emotional horror at abortion leads them to take excessively extreme positions.

      @Anonymous
      Actually it was discussing the issue with my wife that first brought my attention to how viscerally disgusted women are by abortion. If the woman in your life does not share this visceral disgust then you are in big trouble.

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    7. Anonymous, which women did he call which names?

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    8. When I see images from a slaughterhouse, I am also disgusted by what I see. I guess it means I should start calling people who eat meat, including myself, murderers.
      Fetuses are not halachically babies, and your feelings have nothing to do with that.

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    9. Gavriel: I still stand by my comment. The mainstream pro-life position allows for abortion in far fewer circumstances than mainstream halakha.

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    10. "When I see images from a slaughterhouse, I am also disgusted by what I see." No one is talking about imagery here. The very concept of abortion is abhorrent. If it doesn't disgust you, while mere pictures of a slaughterhouse does, that is telling. And Gavriel M is right, women who are against abortion are far more extreme in their opposition to it than men.

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    11. @yehoshua: Name a case where halacha permits an abortion where a mainstream pro-life American would forbid it.

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    12. (Severe) mental anguish for the mother. Potential serious risk down the road to the mother's health that is not manifest yet at the time she wants to abort.

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    13. Gavriel - The first halakhic source that incorporated psychological suffering is found in a responsa from Rabbi Jacob Emden (eighteenth century). He discusses the permissibility of an abortion for a married woman pregnant from an adulterous union. In allowing the abortion to take place, he relied on what he called the “great need” and “great pain” (tzar gadol) of the mother; that is, the anguish she would suffer from the prospect of bearing a child, a “mamzer” (bastard), from an illicit affair. In a twentieth century responsum, Rabbi Eliezer Waldenberg, concluded that in principle, an abortion is permissible as late as the sixth month of pregnancy if tests revealed a Tay-Sachs or Down’s Syndrome/genetically anomalous fetus. In justifying an abortion even at that late date (and even in the case of an indefinite diagnosis), his concern was not the possibility of a physical threat to the mother but rather the risks to her mental health.

      LOTS more in this paper: https://digitalcommons.tourolaw.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=3333&context=lawreview

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    14. Doctors in Missouri are waiting for women with Ectopic pregnancies for their vitals to crash before doing abortions. This is because an abortion can only be carried out in a medical emergency. Ectopic pregnancies are Non-viable and results in the death of the mother if not treated and arehalachically permitted. Will you change your opinion now?

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    15. The halakhic view of abortion is and should be irrelevant to US law. I have strong halakhic views about eating shellfish and getting tattoos but those positions should not be codified into law. This is a sensitive issue that should be handled by the woman, her physician, and her posek, and the law should give those parties the greatest latitude to act in the woman's best interest. Ultimately, we should be keeping בין אדם למקום where it belongs, בין אדם למקום.

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    16. @Moshe, no, for two reasons.

      1. Got some source for this claim?

      2. No, because it doesn't negate the Rambam's clear statement on abortion for goyim. Slifkin claims there are more substantial responses than some modern day yachid whose positions would destroy Ahm Yisrael, but hasn't provided references.

      All other discussion I've seen here on abortion is regarding the halacha vis a vis Jews. So, if your claim is true, I would say, Jews don't really belong in Missouri anyway. If this is what drives them out, so be it. Would it be the first time? No, but at least this time would be voluntary.

      America is THEIR nation. To the extent THEIR laws are in accord with what the halacha has to say about them, I support such. This is no longer the salad days of 1980s and 1990s America anyway. The fiat dollar is already very long in the tooth compared to previous efforts. The Jews are not much longer for that land.

      @Joseph if halacha speaks to goyish obligations, it is very relevant, even if mostly theoretical.

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    17. I'm a nobody, but if some rabbi, no matter their stature, issued a blanket psak on the permissibly to abort a fetus that tested positive for Down's Syndrome, he should be avoided. I've known more than a few adults with the condition, and the idea of aborting them is abhorrent, and should be so to all. I would require someone seeking a heter to meet with actual families with these kind of children, and even then, I would probably say no, unless the mother were unhinged in a way obvious to all. Most of these people are capable of functioning quite well, even if in a lifelong supervised capacity. They also generally have very sweet dispositions.

      To conflate this with Tay Sachs, a horrific and fatal condition, betrays a certain coldness.

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    18. @zdub

      1) As you well know, it is not reasonable to equate the most lenient view you can find in any source anywhere with 'the halacha'.

      2) While I have enormous respect for the Yaabetz, it is well known that he frequently took far out positions on topics that are not defensible. Just as no reasonable person would defend the claim that Moreh Nevuchim is a forgery just because the Yavetz said so, no reasonable person will defend the view that an adultress can nuke her kid because she feels bad. Should have kept your knickers up love.

      3) I think it is obvious that the real issue here is the cruelty involved in bringing a mamzer into the world. I believe most rabbanim faced with such difficult cases take a different approach which, of necessity, can't be written down.

      Nevertheless, outside of liberal states there is overwhelming public support for strong restrictions on abortion with exemptions for risk to life, rape, incest, and genuine psychological harm. It shouldn't be so hard to lobby for such laws, and for ammendments to laws that are overly restrictive. Abortion of the type and volume occurring today is a stain on the conscience of mankind. Saying 'it's all just too complicated, so abortion must be legal under all circumstances' is a genuinely repellent view to hold.

      Delete
    19. Gavriel M
      Why do you think that the Maharit wouldn't agree with the Yaavetz?

      Delete
  3. You speak disingenuously when conflating normative halacha that applies to Jews with how halacha treats the same subject when applied to goyim. This is especially so since America is, despite Jews living there, a goyish land. And for goyim the halacha is clear cut. There is no abortion for them, period. There is no such thing as pikuach nefesh that would justify it, period. For them, abortion is murder, or very much tantamount to it. America is goyish, and I support the goyim enacting laws appropriate to them in their lands, even in the cases where it impacts Jews. However, most, if not all, states that regulate abortion strictly will still some sort of "pikuach nefesh" exception.

    But you are even more disingenuous than that. As it happens, Jews in America are highly concentrated in states where abortion will likely continue to be legal up until birth, or some close approximation to that.

    How many Jews live in Wyoming anyway? And how many Jews would be inconvenienced because of an inability to get a permitted abortion there or another states? One? I have my doubts that even one permitted abortion there would be rendered illegal, so rare is the circumstance in reality. It will be similar in all the states that reject the abortion death cult.

    A miscarriage or ectopic pregnancy (which is already non-viable) that necessitates a DNC also isn't an abortion, for those who like to engage in retarded false dichotomies, hypotheticals, or word games.

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    Replies
    1. "And for goyim the halacha is clear cut. There is no abortion for them, period." You'll forgive us for ignoring the ignorant view of a random anonymous blog commentator, in favor of the learned opinion of an actual Posek: "Nevertheless, it would seem that when it comes to abortion necessitated by severe illness, the law for Jews and non-Jews is the same; in any situation where Jews may terminate a pregnancy, non-Jews may, too." https://ph.yhb.org.il/en/14-09-02/

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    2. This isn't me you are arguing with, clever one. The Rambam disagrees, and very explicitly and strongly. No, don't ask me for the cite. I've seen it, mentioned by non-anonymous rabbis. I don't even doubt you are familiar with it. I'll take his opinion over a modern-day rabbi notorious for his iconoclasm (that's to put it mildly and euphemistically) on various controversial issues. How can he ignore the Rambam? He can't, but he does, because he would have no choice but to argue against it. The rabbis I know don't. He does. What does that say about him? Are there no comments from the last 1500 years on the subject he will draw from? That's severe cherry picking. And even then, his Talmuldic references and the logical inferences he makes do no follow.

      Abortion has been an issue from time immemorial. It was even mentioned in the (goyish) Hippocratic oath of old, though I do not know if it is still included in its recital today.

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    3. Most poskim disagree with Rav Melamed, so this anonymous post is justified.

      Delete
    4. "in favor of the learned opinion of an actual Posek"

      Which is based on pshat gemara that states that there is nothing permitted to Jews that is forbidden to gentiles. Gentile courts can have more severe penalties, so everything from abortion to petty theft can have death penalties.

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    5. "how many Jews would be inconvenienced"

      This isn't inconvenience. Emergency abortions are a life and death matter.

      "A miscarriage or ectopic pregnancy (which is already non-viable) that necessitates a DNC also isn't an abortion"

      Actually it is. Comment on things you understand.

      Delete
    6. Doesn't the concept of rodef also apply to non-Jews? I would think so . . .

      Delete
    7. Shimshon, I am very familiar with Rambam, as well as with the Acharonim who point out that such a view would be so strange that they explain him otherwise.

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    8. Charlie Hall, do abortion clinics have ER's?

      I do understand the difference. No one who loses a baby because of ectopic pregnancies or miscarries and needs a DNC is ever called a baby killer.

      As far as the Acharonim's response, why not provide that instead of that of a modern-day yachid who wrote a non-psak psak full of logical holes and fallacies?

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    9. The halachah is clear-cut? What about Tos. in Sanhedrin? He suggests that it can be permissible for non-jews to abort in cases of pn.

      Delete
    10. The Rambam's statement on the issue is categorical. Give me some responses to his statement. Slifkin claims they exist, but hasn't put up.

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    11. Shimshi with the serious scholarship: "The Rambam disagrees, and very explicitly and strongly. No, don't ask me for the cite. I've seen it, mentioned by non-anonymous rabbis." Lol!

      Delete
    12. Dave, you retarded idiot. I also claimed with certitude that Slifkin was aware of the Rambam, which he confirmed. Why should I cite it? It's well known. If you don't know it, why do you care what the citation is? I'm especially not going to cite something I know is true. You don't believe me, I don't care. And if you're challenging me just to mock, well, you are a retarded idiot who accomplished nothing.

      Delete
    13. Wow, issues with women AND anger/abuse. Whoever would have thought those two might go together.

      Delete
    14. Dave, calling someone a nickname, as you have done from the start, is a form of verbal assault. I am just responding in kind.

      Only in your mind do I have issues with women or anger. That is called projection. As I have said previously, my presence here is a part of me, but not the totality of me.

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  4. The difference between the two cases is clear.

    If the state’s promoting halakha seems to align with the American left (e.g. protecting women from abusive husbands) it’s assur.

    But if the state’s promoting halakha comes from the American right (e.g prohibiting abortions) then its tzadik
    veyashar.

    אלה אלוהיך ישראל

    BC

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    Replies
    1. Well said. It's been clear for a while now that it's often the political positions that are driving the halachic positions and not the other way around. And the same goes (on the other side) for non Orthodox movements too.

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  5. As Jews, we should be familiar with texts and rulings before commenting on them.

    ReplyDelete
  6. It is possible to both support access to abortion and support overturning of Roe vs Wade.

    ReplyDelete
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    1. Actually it isn't. Because overturning Roe vs Wade will drastically curtail access to abortion in most of the country.

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    2. Yitz Finkelstein, how do you define "most"?

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    3. Have I missed something? Overturning Roe vs Wade only means that there is no constitutional guarantee to abortion. It all falls to the individual states to decide what to do. I would imagine that California and probably New York, as an example, would now create laws that do guarantee abortions. Other states, probably not, some half-way, etc.

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    4. Joe Berry That's exactly right. It leaves states free to permit abortion. It also leaves them free to restrict it. Which of those is a problem depends on which side of the fence you're on.
      Many, if not most of the states prohibiting have no exception for rape or incest. I don't see that as compatible with halacha.

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    5. "Many, if not most of the states prohibiting have no exception for rape or incest."

      This doesn't make sense. Most States that prohibit, allow abortions up to a certain point. That gives rape and incest victims sufficient time to abort.
      Maybe you meant "no expection" after x amount of weeks of pregnancy.

      Delete
    6. Does it give them sufficient time? What if they are in the power of the rapist, and the rapist doesn't want them to?

      Delete
  7. Your article makes some great points, but you mis-used the term "Christian approach to abortion". This should be "The Catholic approach to abortion"

    To my understanding, the only branch of Christianity that regards Abortion as murder is the Catholic church, most other branches of Christianity have a more liberal approach, which varies from denomination to denomination. Just as within Judaism there is a wide variety of approaches to abortion, especially if you look at non-Orthodox branches of Judaism.

    I do not understand how the position of the Catholic Church, which makes up a tiny percent of the population in the United States has become the position of the anti-Abortion camp.

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    1. The Catholic Church is by far the largest religious organization in the United States, although it is the religion of a plurality, not a majority. Historically, most Protestant Churches had no problem with abortion; this began to change in the late 1970s when the Churches that had failed in their attempts to preserve racial segregation took on a different issue.

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    2. While what you say may be true at the core (Catholic vs Christian), if it has been absorbed into the general Christian Right's perspective - specifically the Evangelicals - then you have your explanation. Strange bedfellows and all - Protestant vs Catholic does not matter when it is G-dfearing vs secular promiscuous heathens.

      This becomes, in many situations, the reason that [religious] Jews align with the religious Christians against secular groups, despite the history of persecution. I am always intrigued to see where the Muslim groups go in these situations, as their history of "persecution"* is more recent, so do they align with those of similar religious morality or with those who are more likely to support the safety of Muslims.

      * persecution is in quotes in case people think I am equating bigotry with actual pogroms.

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    3. I'm not American, but from my brief reading, about a quarter of Americans identify as Catholic, and many more have Catholic "ancestry" even if they don't identify as such. So it's not such a tiny percentage.

      Delete
  8. Kudos for an excellent post, as usual! What is particularly poignant about your expose of Rabbi Bleich is that many Orthodox Jews may mistakenly rely on his halachic opinion out of awe for his encyclopedic knowledge of Torah. And because of his affiliation with YU, they may consider him a voice of rationalism. In fact, your nemesis FKM frequently cited him on his blog, making him his poster boy as if to say "You see! Even a YU professor agrees that spontaneous generation is plausible!".

    This post lays to rest once and for all any claim of Rabbi Bleich's rationality, or his humanity for that matter. The fact that he could be so vicious and cruel to a young innocent Jewish girl despite the fact that rabbis much less prominent than he is were able to be mattir the kiddushei ketana demonstrates that despite his breadth of knowledge, he is clearly not very ingenuous, and he is certainly not a voice of rationalism!

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    1. I agree with you on this particular issue, but some of your arguments make me cringe.
      It's one thing to show the contradictions in this rabbi's reasoning, and to show that he is politically driven, but I don't like the ''if someone else permitted it, then you should also'' line. If a rabbi feels something is not permissible, he shouldn't do it just because of someone else.

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    2. except that in this case, if you read the aforementioned book, you'll see that no less than the Eidah HaChareidis - certainly no advocates of Open Orthodoxy - declared the kiddushin to be invalid. And especially for someone as encyclopedically knowledgeable as Rabbi Bleich to be so completely impotent at addressing the very validity of the kiddushin claim speaks volumes about his competence as a posek, or lack thereof.

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    3. LOL. So Rabbi Bleich is "politically driven", but Professor Slifkin's is not. Come on, guys, you're too much!

      Delete
  9. I'd imagine that kiddushei ketana would and should still be used in weird corner cases. Let's say Reuven and Shimon are brothers and Rachel and Leah are sisters. Reuven is a chalal, Shimon is a Kohen. Reuven is married to Rachel and has terminal cancer. Shimon had his legs amputated. If Reuven dies, neither yibbum nor chalitza is an option and so Rachel is left as an agunah.

    Leah is a little girl. Shimon should marry Leah and divorce her right away so that Rachel is exempt from yibbum and can remarry.

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    1. Why can't Reuven divorce Rochel?

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    2. Let's say Reuven has a TBI and can't divorce.
      The Rav in my shul said a story about R' Elyashiv, where he recommended something like this, except the girl wasn't a ketana but a teenager. Don't recall the details.

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    3. Wait - chalitzah cannot be done if the surviving brother has no feet? The Gemara didn't come up with a workaround for this?

      I see a market for a Chalitzah Glove. Maybe a Chalitzah Belt, if we want to stick to the leather theme, but belts do not have a "beis kibul" that one can spit into. Ooh - a buckled Chalitzah Breastplate, as this is a garment that one usually would need help in removing.

      Weird corner case indeed. Lehagdil Torah U'l'ha'adirah!

      Delete
    4. My son is studying law at Hebrew U, and in his Mishpat Ivri case, they discussed an actual case similar to the above. During the War years there was a terminally ill man in Israel who had a brother living in New Zealand (I assume that names and locations have been changed in the textbook to protect identity).
      Should the man in Israel die, it would be extremely difficult for the brother in NZ to perform Halizta, however the Israeli wife had a sister in New Zealand, and the Beit Din recommended that the brother in NZ marry his sister-in-law (and then divorce her), so that when his brother died, his wife would not be left an aguna.

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    5. It's nicer to look things up instead of wasting others' time, or at least express ignorance as a question.

      https://he.wikisource.org/wiki/%D7%9E%D7%A9%D7%A0%D7%94_%D7%99%D7%91%D7%9E%D7%95%D7%AA_%D7%99%D7%91_%D7%90

      https://hebrewbooks.org/pdfpager.aspx?req=9728&st=&pgnum=214

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  10. "Bleich warned against the danger of harnessing the power of the state to religious law... Bleich had a record of opposition to mobilizing civil law to deal with issues regarding halakhic marriage and divorce. "

    I think the distinction between abortion and גיטין/נשואין are clear. To be sure, there's an argument to made for the Torah world to support the (so-called) pro-choice side. But it strikes me as petty to imply that Rabbi Bleich is being inconsistent (or even hypocritical) here. You may deny that the disctinction R. Bleich appears to be making is substantial, but the distinction still exists.

    ReplyDelete
  11. "even though it means that women who should be getting abortions from a halachic perspective will have a difficult time doing so"

    No, they won't. This is simply and flatly untrue and is a scare tactic used by pro-abortion otherwise-Orthodox Jews to get other Orthodox Jews to support them.

    "The Christian approach to abortion is very, very different from the Jewish approach."

    Maybe on a philosophical level. (Not to mention that, of course, with 2,000 denominations, there is no such thing as a "Christian approach." On a practical level? No difference at all.

    Really, you have to stop listening to that dude.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. How do you figure there's no practical difference at all? R' Herschel Schachter's pesakim are very different practically from the Christian approach. So are R' Dovid Cohen's. So are R' Asher Weiss's.

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  12. It also can't be mentioned enough that this was a decision relating to American Constitutional law, not religion. Even such a pro-abortion stalwart as Ruth Bader Ginsberg herself stated that Roe was a stupid and illegal decision.

    Rabbi Bleich happens to be a fully credentialed professor of American law. You should give him a bit more credit than you do, especially considering your own national origin. There is nothing wrong with being from the UK, of course, but the UK has an entirely different constitution from the US, as does Israel.

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    1. Correct. The post was stupid. But P Slifkin is an academic and hence reflective lefty, and thus felt compelled to say *something* *anything* on the topic. But problem: clearly this has nothing to do with “rationalist Judaism”, and so even with this blog’s hard turn to the left, even our host realized it had, as the kids say, no shaychus. So he had to cast about for some ridiculous hook, however attenuated, upon which to hang the post. And he found R.Bleich. And that is how we get to this nonsensical post.

      Pickles G.

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    2. Eh, I think calling it a "decision relating to American Constitutional Law" is a trifle disingenuous. That is the way in, of course, but it isn't the reason for the lobbying. I'd like to find a single impartial Constitutional scholar who has an opinion about this that is not at all either, "a person's a person no matter how small," or "my body my choice."

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    3. "my body my choice"
      There is no constitutional provision for this. As such, the tenth ammendent kicks in.

      Delete
  13. This is a tiresome and disingenuous argument. Is the Thirteenth Amendment "anti-Torah", as halachically slavery is permitted, and freeing a gentile slave is forbidden? Suppose a secular state bans usury. Are we obligated to oppose it because it's a mitzvah to charge interest to a non-Jew? Just because secular law doesn't line up precisely with every jot and tittle of Halacha doesn't mean that Jews can't welcome it. The fact that a tiny percentage of abortions may be halachically justified doesn't change the fact that the vast majority of them are not, and despite your claims to the contrary, the basic halacha is that an elective abortion for gentiles is considered murder, as codified by the Rambam. This is the flip side of Rav Dov Lior saying that Israel should kill every resident of Beirut to prevent one Israeli soldier from being harmed; you are saying that it's better for millions of gentile babies to be murdered so long as it allows Jews to occasionally have a halachically sanctioned abortion.

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  14. If R' Bleich didn't want the state involved in an internal religious issue, he could still want the state involved for setting general laws relating to life and death. (And many authorities consider abortion a form of murder, see e.g. https://www.torahmusings.com/2022/05/rav-lichtenstein-on-abortion/)

    Note that no state is proposing to ban abortion when the life of the mother is threatened, so there isn't too much potential conflict with Jewish law here.

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  15. " a fetus is not a life and the prohibition against abortion is not based on it being any form of murder"

    Those of us who will complete Tractate Yevamot in just over a week know that this is directly from Chazal. We have learned that for the first 40 days after conception (52-70 days the way we measure that today), an embryo is mere water and after that is a limb of the mother. In a different mishnah tractate (Ohalot 7:6) we read that a fetus is dismembered to save the life of of a mother in labor. (Fortunately in practice, thanks to modern medicine and surgery, we would never need to do that today, but the principle remains.)

    Now that doesn't mean that abortion is permitted in all circumstances; the heterodox Jewish groups ignore a lot of sources to promote their position. It is asur for a pregnant woman -- or anyone else -- to cut off a limb except for pikuach nefesh (which actually does happen -- my grandfather lost two legs to diabetes complications). It is asur for her to even get a tattoo! But a fetus is not a "baby" as far as Judaism is concerned and abortion is not treated as murder.

    The traditional Jewish position on abortion is like no Christian position of any Christian Church I have ever found. Why are we supporting Christian positions? (This question applies both to the "orthodox" who want to have abortion bans that go far beyond what Chazal wrote, and to the heterodox who seem to think that there is nothing objectionable to abortion, ever.)

    ReplyDelete
  16. You mean Catholic. Some liberal Christians support unlimited abortions which is similarly anathema to the Jewish approach of פיקוח נפש giving priority to the mother's life and health.
    Would Judeo-Catholics support a US Supreme Court ban on marriage for full time religious students and clergy in order to ensure celibacy?

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  17. The article - and many, many others on the topic - misconstrues the recent Supreme Court ruling. It does not ban abortion, or ban the passage of laws guaranteeing the right to abortion - what it says is that the right to an abortion is not inherent in the US Constitution. Whether it should be added or not is a different question, and one that is properly left to the Legislative branch of government - which is now the case.

    Stating that this ruling is using secular law to enforce a religious view - Catholic or otherwise - is a fallacy. If you made such a claim against the various state-lwvel laws that now ban abortion, you'd have more of a point - but it should be noted that a secular law, even if some support it for religious reasons, is still a valid US law.

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    1. Anonymous, isn't it disingenuous to point out that overturning Roe does not ban abortion when the concurring Justices know full well how this is going to turn out and, except for Roberts, seem pleased with that?

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    2. No, it's definitely not disingenuous to point that out. It may well be that the justices in question know what the result of their decision is likely to be, but that doesn't change the fact that this is a legal question that should be decided based on what the law (in this case, the Constitution) says - not what you, I, or the Justices think it should say. If the American people, or the people of any specific state, want to explicitly enshrine the right to abortion in law, they are free to do so, and in a number of states they've done just that.

      A finding of law should be made based on law - not feelings of what's right or wrong.

      Delete
  18. Could you point to sources on the kiddushei ketanah issue (other than expensive books on amazon)? I had never heard about this, and it's rather fascinating (and horrifying).
    Since nobody did it yet on this post, I'll add that experience shows that the society so-called ''pro-life'' movements are really advocating for, will not be free of abortions, but full of dangerous and tricky abortions.
    You americans should remember how prohibition was like.

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    Replies
    1. It's not expensive! Buy the Kindle edition and read it on Kindle Cloud Reader.

      Delete
    2. Life in America before 1973 was just fine . . . a lot less babies being killed also. Abortion will go back to the states and will either be legal, or have an exception for the life of the mother.

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  19. "... and even had they done so, it would not have helped little girls betrothed by their fathers before such a ban was implemented." This is an odd critique, given that a law that would make kiddushei ketana a felony would presumably also not have helped little girls betrothed before such a law was passed?

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    1. D, I think that a law that punishes those who had already engaged in the prohibited act while it was still legal would be an ex post facto law and thus unconstitutional.

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    2. So we agree that the critique seems unbalanced? Just checking if I'm misread your sentence.

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    3. On the contrary. I think I missed the "not" in your comment.

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  20. "Thus, as Jews, we cannot welcome the overturning of Roe v. Wade."
    You constantly make the same mistake. Roe V Wade is a US Constitution issue in which the court ordered the Federal government to relinquish powers that it usurped from the States. All Americans, Jews and gentiles alike should welcome the fact that the current Supreme Court actually has respect for the law of the land.
    If you want to discuss whether as a Jew you should be pro or anti abortion laws in the State in which you live that would be fine. Leave Roe out of your post as you clearly have no understanding of what it is about.

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    1. You are arguing that SCOTUS kicked the question to the states, and it's a state issue, and that the whole issue is about federalism.
      That's irrelevant to me. Ultimately, SCOTUS took away a personal decision and gave it to the state to decide.

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    2. So funny how right-wing americans cling to their outdated constitution as if it was the best thing in the world. If your constitution reallysa ys the legally valid rights of the citizens should be denied because it's a state issue (and that's not sure at all), then the only conclusion I can get to is that it's rubbish.

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    3. I couldn’t have expressed it better.
      But that Kidushei Ketana should even be considered Halacha as a separate issue is another example of insufferable falsity of Chareidi/Orthodox Halacha and its avowed declaration that Halacha is God’s Mesorah to his people. The immorality of Agunah, Kedushei Ketanah etc., principles that defy reasonable and rational bein adam l’chaveiro considerations is an indictment of a depraved and indecent religion. Anyone who still needs to embrace this corrupt system of purported Godly instruction needs to have their head examined.

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    4. This is a case of conflicting rights . The rights of a woman to decide what to do with her own body vs. the rights of a fetus. SCOTUS decided that it’s a decision that should be left to the states as enumerated in The Constitution.

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    5. It isn’t that the current court “took away” the constitutional right to abortion. It’s that no such constitutional right existed or was dreamt of until 1973. Now, the court is just returning things to the way they should be, i.e. federalism.

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    6. @Uriah's wife
      Well, kiddushei ketanah actually made sense in the society in which they existed and, really, I don't think any halachic authority would advocate doing it now;
      But the US constitution does not even claim to be God-given, so if it fails to serve the american people, it's useless. The so-called ''rights of fetuses'' are one vast joke. Their only use is precisely against abortion, so by the same logic I could invent the ''rights of chairs'' to prevent people from sitting.

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    7. That is actually false. It is, for example, a double homicide to murder a pregnant woman in California. But abortion is totally legal. So fetal personhood is recognized in other contexts.

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    8. @Jew Well,
      So you would deem an 8 1/2 month fetus, very viable after a Caesarean section, to be on the same legal level as the “right of a chair”? We’re not comparing a blob of 15 day old cells to chairs. We’re comparing an 8 1/2 month old viable fetus and you want to deny it any rights to life? You’re out of your mind.

      Delete
    9. @Jew Well,
      What about agunah? Why would any halachic authority want to advocate its implementation? Other than a belief that it’s a man’s halachic right to withhold a GET because she is nothing more than his property?

      Delete
    10. @Uriah's Wife,
      You're conflating many things.
      There is personal human rights: ''All human beings ARE BORN free and equal in dignity and rights'' (UDHR,1)
      And there is rights of legal objects. That's where chairs and fetuses belong. Now you can make different rights for fetuses than chairs, and most countries do have a gestational limit (usually around 17 weeks, which roughly equates 4 months and a half) for abortion. But you can't base it on the personal ''rights of fetuses'', only on general interest of society, right of the mother to keep her fetus, or by the astute invention in some european countries, of the right of life itself not to be taken.
      Now under Roe v. Wade there were time restriction to abortion in almost all states, so no we're not talking about ''8/2 month old viable fetuses'', we're talking about the first (and someimes second) trimester. That's what the pro-life movement wants to abolish.
      Regarding agunot, you know fully well that halachic authorities do not want to implement it, they want to coerce the husband in giving the get. The problem is in most countries they lack the means to do so effectively.

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    11. @Jew Well,
      I am conflating nothing. Defining a human 8 1/2 month fetus’s rights as nothing more than a “general interest of society” results in the murder of a viable life outside the womb. The pro-life movement is not monolithic. There is a minority that want to prohibit abortion under all circumstances. That is not where a majority pro-lifers stand. We want human life protection for a 8 1/2 month fetus but also preserve the right of a woman for a one month pregnancy to be aborted. It is a difficult balance that is preserved.
      As for agunot, as I have mentioned, present Halacha calls into question the legitimacy of Charidie/Orthodox religion.

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    12. @Uriah's Wife
      Well, we're unearthing some straw men, aren't we?
      It used to be the defense of 8 1/2 month fetuses, but obviously what really concerns you is from a month onward, But with no arguments, of course.
      Like I wrote, the term ''murder'' is improper, you might very much want it to be so, but international law and conventional halacha do not agree with you, only bigoted christians and, true, some poskim (but strangely not ones you usually seem to deeply respect).
      What calls here or in agunot cases into question the legitimacy of halacha or basic law, is really the fact that you reason only with your feelings, which is not very rationalist of you.

      Delete
    13. @Jew Well,
      What straw men? Of course aborting 8 1/2 month viable fetuses concern me. Aborting an unborn viable human being is depraved and should concern every perceptive human being, except in the most severe of circumstances. But perceptive folks should also defend a woman’s right to abort a 1 month old blob of growing cells. As I mentioned, it’s a challenge to uphold conflicting rights and there will always be folks on both sides who hold extreme views. Hopefully with the States in control, compromises will prevail.
      As for the agunot issue, the legitimacy of Halacha is in fact a matter of concern, seeing the immorality of denying a woman the right to force a divorce from her husband. Now that is indeed rational.

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    14. To Jew Well, who is amazed that Americans "cling" to the Constitution. Yep - like the liberal leaders here amazed that their opponents "cling" to their outdated God and religion. How pathetic that your mindset aligns with theirs.

      GP

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    15. @Uriah's Wife
      I don't see what you're adding, so I have alredy answered you.
      @Unknown
      Amazed? No, nothing amazes me from you. I wrote it's funny.
      But last time I checked it up, G.d wasn't among your constitution signatories, only a bunch of rich XVIIIth century white men, some of them slaveowners. This constitution wasn't even up to the task of avoiding a bloody civil war.
      And the last meaningful amendment that was allowed to get in was in 1971, 51 years ago.
      But if ancienty was the meter to judge laws, the US should still be run by the Magna Carta of 1215, or maybe by roman law.
      Seems you're not paying attention to what you're supposedly saying every day:
      הלא כל הגבורים כאין לפניך ואנשי השם כלא היו וחכמים כבלי מדע ונבונים כבלי השכל כי כל מעשינו תוהו וימי חיינו הבל לפניך ככתוב בדברי קדשך 'ומותר האדם מן הבהמה אין כי הכל הבל'.

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  21. It is interesting that R. Slifkin's approach to this issue ignores the fact the we now know scientifically a lot more about the nature and development of fetuses than the pre-modern halachic sources. From a gut-based baalabatish point of view its very hard to look at images and videos of developing fetuses without a moral revulsion at abortion. It is a real question as to how this should affect our weighing of the halachic sources.

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    1. https://youtu.be/kjrjsqhScjY

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    2. Chickens are not people. But tzar baalei chaim is a legitimate concern also. Not sure what your point is. My point is that a rational-scientific perspective should take into account the fact that we know far more about fetal development than when the Rivash, Chavos Yair, YAABETZ, etc. discussed the issue.

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    3. "Gut-based balabatish point of view." LOL.

      Do gruesome pictures of shechitah stop you eating meat?

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  22. "Thus, as Jews, we cannot welcome the overturning of Roe v. Wade."

    As Jews, or any United States citizen, we should be welcoming the restoration of constitutional integrity by opposing Supreme Court decisions that utterly disregard it.

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    1. Perhaps, but we should also be dismayed about the suffering and the violations of halakha that overturning of Roe vs Wade will cause until a more robust constitutional framework is found to protect terminations, which we can all agree seems like a very distant prospect. So on balance, we definitely shouldn't welcome the overturning of Roe vs Wade.

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  23. I don’t know enough to have an opinion either way but even according to the article you linked (which most likely does not include all opinions) May disagree whether it’s life, they don’t disagree though that it would only be permissible in extreme circumstances

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  24. Fabulous post Rabbi Slifkin. It’s important to point out that neither the pro choice or pro life positions is a Jewish one.

    However, I take issue with your concluding line. We most certainly can applaud the overturn of Roe regardless of what feels personally on abortion. Whether you’re pro, anti or subscribe to the Jewish version, nine unelected judges have no place deciding on such a hot button issue that the constitution is silent on. We should all applaud that it is now in the hands of the people. At the core that is what democracy is. The courts should go back to interpreting laws, not making them.

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  25. My answer to R V Wade and to any and all agunot issues is that at the end of the day we have to act with compassion. Any analysis of constitutional law or halacha should promote a measure of empathy and an effort to be a mensh.
    Perhaps this illustrates this (Bava Metzia 83a)

    The Gemara relates an incident involving Rabba bar bar Ḥanan: Certain porters broke his barrel of wine after he had hired them to transport the barrels. He took their cloaks as payment for the lost wine. They came and told Rav. Rav said to Rabba bar bar Ḥanan: Give them their cloaks. Rabba bar bar Ḥanan said to him: Is this the halakha? Rav said to him: Yes, as it is written: “That you may walk in the way of good men” (Proverbs 2:20). Rabba bar bar Ḥanan gave them their cloaks. The porters said to Rav: We are poor people and we toiled all day and we are hungry and we have nothing. Rav said to Rabba bar bar Ḥanan: Go and give them their wages. Rabba bar bar Ḥanan said to him: Is this the halakha? Rav said to him: Yes, as it is written: “And keep the paths of the righteous” (Proverbs 2:20).

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  26. Could you link directly to Rabbi Bleich's objections to using civil law in this case (i.e., the primary source(s))? I can't seem to turn anything up except his Tradition article, which makes no mention of civil law. Thanks!

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  27. The moral weight of "woman's right to choose" was always suspect, as the father could be held legally obligated to support it. So it was never just a woman's right to choose by herself. And any residual moral force was laid finally to rest when the same leftists who support it had no compunctions with forced vaccinations. Suddenly, to anyone who might have been on the fence, "my body, my choice" sounded very hollow.

    Roe v Wade never even made sense from a legal basis, and so to it we say, like so many other cases overturned throughout the years, good riddance. Next up, and of infinitely greater importance: School Prayer.

    GP

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    1. The constitutionality of vaccine mandates were upheld way back in 1905 well before the doctrines for Griswold & Roe were developed. Any legal comparison between the two is hucksterism. Vaccines mandates are not a leftist thing. Just look at the rest of the world.
      And no, school prayer is not of infinitely greater importance. There you already have real tension between "establishing" & "prohibiting". There it's about finding the correct balance. It's not about creating a right out of thin air and usurping power left to the States.

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    2. If you wish to look at the rest of the world, you will see many countries in which abortion is entirely prohibited, not just limited to the states. So, again - you cannot simultaneously support mandatory vaccine and the right to aborting babies. It's gross hypocrisy, and I'm far from the first to notice this obvious point. I have no doubt the Supreme Court justices noticed it as well.

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    3. "The constitutionality of vaccine mandates were upheld way back in 1905 well before the doctrines for Griswold & Roe were developed."

      Funny that you cite Jacobson v. Massachusetts, an obscure and narrow ruling that the proponents of forced COVID vaccinations have giddily jumped on, in the hopes of justifying their sadistic worldview to themselves.

      Little do they realize, the Jacobson ruling was made by a Eugenics-era Supreme court, and was the one and only precedent for the disgraceful Buck v. Bill ruling that permitted forced sterilizations of "imbeciles" and the "feeble-minded". Little do they realize, the Nazis used Buck v. Bell, and explicitly quoted the Supreme Court Justice (Holmes) who voted in support of both Buck and Jacobson, to justify their own sadistic worldviews at the Nuremberg trials.

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    4. "If you wish to look at the rest of the world, you will see many countries in which abortion is entirely prohibited, not just limited to the states. "
      You lost the plot. I said that vaccine mandates were not a leftist thing, and I refered to non-leftist gov't that impose such mandates. I didn't refer to abortion law worldwide.

      " I have no doubt the Supreme Court justices noticed it as well. "
      Why assume with "I have no doubt"? You can read the decisions, or summaries thereof. Roe and Griswold were decided on a mishmash of concocted legals theories that simply didn't exist when the 1905 decision was made. The two are very different cases. Check the dissent in Roe & Grisworld and see if they invoked the principles in 1905. Roe & Griswold were decided on the inference of rights not explicit in the Constitution.

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    5. " the Jacobson ruling was made by a Eugenics-era Supreme court, and was the one and only precedent for the disgraceful Buck v. Bill "

      The two cases were over twenty years apart and only one justice served on both cases. Why do you call the 1905 the Eugenics Era court? Evidence? I recall that eugenics didn't become a big thing until the 1920s. Wikipedia doesn't reveal much eugenic activity in the USA when the 1905 decision was made. But I await your evidence.

      Buck is indeed "disgraceful", but not because it relied on Jacobson. It's disgraceful because it accepted the mythology of eugenics. You're mixing things up.

      "Little do they realize, the Nazis used Buck v. Bell,"

      Nonsense. Buck v. Bell is very notorious. Any discussion of Eugenics in the USA will necessarily mention the case and the Nazis. You are not privy to some secret source of American history. It's not "little realized" - it's well known.

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    6. Ephraim, it's not complicated. Baby killing was ALWAYS a state law issue until an activist court interfered, and discovered miraculously that the Constitution (written 246 years ago this Monday) actually addressed it. The Court now, with a few more adults on it, finally stepped in to restore order. You just cant argue with that.

      Grsn Pckls.

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    7. "The two cases were over twenty years apart and only one justice served on both cases."

      That one Justice was the same one that cited Jacobson as precedent for Buck, just as you do for forced COVID vaccinations. He was also the same Justice that the Nazis liked to quote.

      "Wikipedia doesn't reveal much eugenic activity in the USA when the 1905 decision was made. But I await your evidence."

      Eugenics began being legislated in states just two years later in 1907, and finally culminated in the Supreme court upholding it in 1927. The Supreme Court used the narrow scope of Jacobson to support intrusions into bodily autonomy, just as you do.

      "Buck is indeed "disgraceful", but not because it relied on Jacobson."

      I didn't say it was disgraceful because it relied on Jacobson. It is disgraceful and sadistic, *and* it relied on Jacobson. Just as you do for your own sadistic ideal of forced COVID vaccinations.

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    8. Gershon, not to argue with the substance of your comment, but the constitution wasn’t written in 1776.

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    9. " Baby killing was ALWAYS a state law issue until an activist court ... discovered miraculously that the Constitution... actually addressed it. The Court now...stepped in to restore order. You just cant argue with that."

      I never did. I wrote, "Roe and Griswold were decided on a mishmash of concocted legals theories that simply didn't exist when the 1905 decision was made."
      But to be clear, the court in Griswold explicitly said that right was not "addressed" by the constitution. Rather it arose from penumbras formed by emanatons blah blah blah. Call it a distinction without a difference.

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    10. "That one Justice..."

      That's not what you wrote. You wrote that Jacobson was decided by a "eugenic era" court and have not provided evidence for this. What one of the justices did over twenty years laters is not proof. You have not shown that eugenics was the motivation for the Jacobson decision.

      (You also don't realize that there is a historical covergence of the anti-vaccination movement and eugenics. Example: The anti-Semite George Bernard Shaw)

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  28. The article below speaks of a proposal to amend the Kansas state constitution to ban ALL abortions. (The constitution currently makes the right to abortion explicit.) Should the amendment pass, there will be no exceptions for rape, incest, or the life of the mother until the legislature enacts such exceptions.

    To the idea expressed above that very few Jews live in states where bans are likely to take effect, I suggest that Overland Park has a sizeable Jewish community with, per the OU, one Orthodox synagogue, two mikvaot, and a kollel.

    https://kansasreflector.com/2022/06/24/demise-of-roe-v-wade-adds-gravity-to-kansas-vote-on-abortion-constitutional-amendment/

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    1. I do not think that you are correct. There will be no law not allowing for the life of the mother.

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    2. Even if the laws formally allow an exception for the life of the mother, there will clearly be at least some burden of proof on the doctor. I would want the doctor's decision on whether he saves my wife's life to be based on his medical judgment, not on what he is certain will satisfy a jury.

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  29. Yasher koach for another excellent article, Rabbi Slifkin. I wish that people who disagree with you would do so with civility. Anyway, clearly the Jewish approach to abortion is quite different from the Catholic approach. The government needs to get out of way and let each of us approach this sensitive area in a manner consistent with our faith and values.

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  30. "And accordingly, abortion is permitted and even required in various cases where the Christianity-based laws in several states would not permit it. Thus, as Jews, we cannot welcome the overturning of Roe v. Wade."

    This is an argument made by many Modern Orthodox in the U.S. I think it has attained the status of a slam-dunk argument among many people.

    With all due respect, I really have a hard time understanding why this is more than just one point, that needs to taken into account in conjunction with other points and arguments.

    1 - What if an analysis shows that there will only be 25 women who need such Halachically-required abortions every year in states that prohibit them and where the women can't easily cross state lines to get the abortion? And what if 15,000 non-Halachically-sanctioned abortions will likely be performed due to the complete absence of restrictions on abortion? Why is it then so self-evident that we need constitutional protection for abortions? Maybe my numbers are way off, but they (and other arguments) need to be part of the discussion.

    2 - Do we always insist on constitution-level protection for any religious practice, completely disregarding the cost (in this case, the death of the fetuses)? Maybe we should demand constitutional protection against incarceration because men have a right to go to the mikva every Friday? We don't demand this b/c we recognize that there are competing values and needs and all laws need to weigh many things. How is abortion and the life of the fetus any different?

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    1. 1. I argue that 1 halachikly sanctioned abortion overides 1m non sanctioned. No person should need to sacrifice themselves for the sake of others. והפושעים יכשלו בם
      2. This idea that when roe vs Wade was law of the land abortion was amok, and babies were being killed very late in the game is quite untrue. Take for example NYS. After 24 weeks, it's only allowed in an extremely limited amount of cases. Many poskim - including R Chaim Ozer would argue that even according to the Rambam it doesnt have a nefesh yet.

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    2. We already have many analyses showing that a) restrictions on terminations don't reduce their incidence, they simply make them more dangerous and b) termination rates have been falling during the period when they have been constituationally protected (which, I would hope, we 'welcome'). Your 15,000 figure would therefore be surprising, even if it were possible to conduct such an analysis. I don't say we should stop analysing, but let's not pretend that their haven't been any other analyses, and let's not keep starting from scratch until we get something that supports our conclusion.

      As for 2), no we don't always insist on religious practice protection, and yes we recoginze competing values, but that doesn't mean we can welcome the overturning of Roe vs Wade, and it seems rather clear that we shouldn't.

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    3. Zargulon - I'm not saying we should start from scratch and I'm not saying there haven't been other analyses.

      I'm just saying that those points need to be made as part of the argument. It isn't enough to simply say "And accordingly, abortion is permitted and even required in various cases where the Christianity-based laws in several states would not permit it. Thus, as Jews, we cannot welcome the overturning of Roe v. Wade" without addressing the competing values and the statistics

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    4. I think the sentence you quoted just meant that Roe vs. Wade protected us from Christianity-based laws that would make it more difficult to observe halakha. So, I see his point.

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  31. You do not mention why Rabbi Bleich was against the government getting involved in Halachik issues.
    Regarding abortion for non -Jews, the majority opinion is that it is murder. They are also obligated by the mitzvah of Dinim to enforce that prohibition. Regarding Jews, although it might not be murder, some say it is prohibited as a potential life. It would only be mandated by halacha if the mother's life is in danger. I think that almost all states will permit abortion under those circumstances.
    There might be cases of the mental health of the mother, where some states might differ with a mandated abortion according to Halacha. However, a restrictive position, in the great majority of cases, will end up being much closer to the Halacha. Additionally, if you live in a state with restrictive abortion laws that conflict with your understanding of Halacha, you have the option of getting an abortion in a more liberal state that permits it.

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    1. If our goal here is to make sure non Jews keep the halachik requirements, then R Bleich should be endorsing laws forbidding avoda Zara. Majority of Rishonim consider Christianity AZ - including the Rambam who he quotes in order to praise Christianity.

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    2. There are Rishonim such as the Meiri who state that Christianity
      is not avodah zarah for non-Jews
      but is for Jews. Christians believe in " shituf" i.e. the trinity.

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    3. @Yaacub
      Ah, so on abortion the Rambam is the only relevant source and whatever anyone else writes has no bearing, but all of a sudden if the question is christianity, the Meiri is good enough (the truth is he's not the only one, but that's not the point.
      .What hypocrysy!

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    4. Rabbi Yehudah Gershuni z"tzal
      told me that as to financial halachot where the non- Jew is treated differently than the Jew we must do Tzedek and treat the non- Jew equally and justly.

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    5. Very nice wisdom, but completely irrelevant

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  32. Great article, but I am actually one of those people who believe in the right to abortion, and overturning Roe v. Wade. The Court that decided Roe (and the line of cases to follow) were highly criticized for over stepping their role as a judges, and engaging in legislation.

    While many people may like the rule carved out in Roe, its hard to like the process, as 9 judges circumvented the democratic process to create the rule.

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  33. This is so silly. There are very few true agnunos. Most of the time it's women tossing men out of their homes. I have numerous friends like this. The wives remarried long ago. The husbands still live in basement apartments, seeing their kids every other week. Try to live in the real world, not in the fantasy modern orthodox high on your horse club.

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