Beth Salamon is the Louisville Section State Policy Advocate for the National Council of Jewish Women (NCJW) in Kentucky. She opposes Kentucky House Bill 3, a pro-life bill that places common sense restrictions on abortion.
Ms. Salamon writes in the Courier-Journal:
“The Kentucky House passed House Bill 3. With this now going to the Kentucky Senate, a sweeping anti-abortion bill that adds extreme regulations and restrictions on pregnant people, doctors, pharmacies and other services. It restricts access to abortions for people under the age of 18 and college students. It also bans receiving abortion medication by mail or shipment and places more restrictions on anyone using medication to end a pregnancy - a practice, which accounts for half of all abortions in Kentucky.”
These are not abortion restrictions. They are essential precautions that protect women and minors. The Kentucky bill sets standards that make sense to keep women and minors safe. The bill would require parental notification for minors to obtain abortions, which most Americans support. It ensures that a pregnant woman have an in-person consultation with a doctor before taking mifepristone, one of the drugs used in a chemical abortion. Chemical abortion drugs can cause heavy bleeding and sometimes hemorrhaging that requires an ER visit. If a woman has an ectopic pregnancy, mifepristone can result in serious complications.
The British government recently ended mail-order chemical abortion drugs and we should do the same.
The NCJW has been aggressively promoting radical abortion policies for decades as part of their “reproductive justice” campaign. Their organization supports abortion on demand up to birth for any reason, and they take passages from the Torah and provide a distorted interpretation of the verses.
In Judaism, all human life is sacred; abortion is a violation of Jewish law and considered akin to murder. The authentic position is that Judaism is pro-life. There is nothing in the Torah or sacred Jewish texts that allows abortion on demand until birth for convenience or choice. There is no such thing as “reproductive justice” in Judaism.
In the Book of Genesis, our matriarch Rachel felt helpless as her older sister Leah easily conceived one child after another and said to Jacob: “Give me children or else I die.” (Genesis 30:1) Deuteronomy 30:19 reads: “Now choose life so that you and your descendants will live.” Killing babies was not G-d’s mission for humanity.
The passage in Exodus 21:21-25 is not about abortion. The verses clearly reference a miscarriage. Since Roe v. Wade, there have been 63 million abortions in the United States. Does Ms. Salamon think these are all miscarriages? If she does, she’s right. They are miscarriages of justice against the unborn.
“Furthermore, these anti-choice bans and restrictions could force a Jewish doctor to renounce his or her religious and medical beliefs while forcing her or him to abide by other religious doctrines.”
Ms. Salamon calls “reproductive freedom” a Jewish value and denounces restrictions in the Kentucky bill as a violation of Jewish law:
Ms. Salamon omits important facts about Jewish law in her defense of abortion. Jewish doctors are allowed to violate the Shabbat to save the life of an unborn child. Where in the Torah does it say that a Jewish doctor must perform abortions to abide by his religious faith?
It is true that in Jewish law, the mother’s life takes precedence over the life of her unborn child in the rare exception when her life is endangered. However, according to an older Guttmacher survey that was done back in 2005, less than 1% of all legal abortions that take place are performed to save the mother’s life. With all the advances in fetal medicine and the advent of 4D ultrasounds since 2005, it is likely that maternal fatalities have decreased.
Thirty years ago, the pro-life movement was focused on partial birth abortion, the gruesome abortion method in which the abortionist delivers an unborn baby but leaves the head inside the birth canal, and then plunges a scissors into the base of the skull and suctions out the baby’s brain. Supporters called it “D & X” or dilation and extraction abortion because it sounds antiseptic. The NCJW supported it.
Today, the abortion method of choice for fully formed unborn babies is dismemberment, in which the abortionist takes a forceps and grabs an infant’s arms and legs and tears them off, killing the baby. Supporters call it “D & E” or dilation and evacuation abortion because it sounds clinical. The NCJW supports that method of abortion, too.
If the National Council of Jewish Women really wanted to help women in crisis pregnancy situations, they would promote the over 2,700 pregnancy resource centers across the United States that provide pregnant women with professional, essential life-affirming care.
In light of science that has progressed 50 years since Roe v. Wade and public opinion, why does the NCJW hold such extreme positions on abortion that are contrary to traditional Judaism and what most Americans believe? What possible reason could they have for not supporting one single reasonable exception to abortion on demand and helping pregnant women explore positive life-affirming solutions? These are questions they never answer.
Copyright 2022 by Bonnie Chernin.