“Fundamentalist Christians” are a big problem in America, according to Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, better known by her acronym of AOC. And in a short video rant posted to social media she enlisted Jews to help besmirch those Christians over the hot topic of abortion.
That might come as a surprise given AOC’s affiliation with the increasingly antisemitic progressive fringe of the Democratic Party. She is a founding member of “The Squad,” a group of freshman House representatives (some are now in their second term) who frequently badmouth the Jewish state.
Her claim that “our Jewish brothers and sisters can have an abortion according to their faith” (emphasis mine) would seem well founded in light of how easily Israel approves the procedure. But in reality it betrays an ignorance of Judaism’s position on the subject.
In broad strokes, Judaism views a fetus as living creature, but refrains from granting it the status of personhood. However, Judaism is largely noncommittal about the entire affair. And it certainly shouldn’t be portrayed as pro-abortion or pro-choice.
Still, it is true that this approach has enabled women in the Jewish state to effectively choose abortion to end unwanted pregnancies, and doctors who detect even the smallest chance of fetal abnormality will often recommend it, all with little or no rabbinic opposition.
But dragging Judaism into the raucous political debate over abortion is a step too far for some rabbis. And some rabbis have argued that if Judaism is to be forced to pick a side, it’s as likely as not to land on the side of the fundamentalist Christians that AOC so reviles.
When the State of New York determined in 2018 that women could get an abortion up until the moment birth, one of the largest rabbinical councils in the US decided it could no longer remain ambivalent.
A statement issued by the Rabbinical Council of America (RCA) read:
“Jewish law opposes abortion, except in cases of danger to the mother. There is no sanction to permit the abortion of a healthy fetus when the mother’s life is not endangered.”
RCA Vice President Rabbi Daniel Korobkin went so far as to call abortion murder:
“The removal of any restriction from abortion access and the redefining of the word ‘homicide’ to exclude abortion, indicate a further erosion of the moral values of our society, where killing babies is no longer construed as immoral in any way.”
Yes, Israel’s current Minister of Health, Nitzan Horowitz, takes a position very similar to that of AOC, and wants to make abortion even more accessible in the Jewish state. But Horowitz, who is also openly gay, is about as secular as they come. His views on the subject should by no means be seen as representative of Judaism.
Generally speaking, modern Judaism has done its best to avoid making abortion a political issue. Or of wading into the political debate surrounding the topic. That doesn’t mean Judaism supports free-for-all abortion.
As Rabbi Avi Grossman of the Shilo Institutes in Jerusalem explained to Israel365 News:
“It would be inaccurate to say that Judaism allows or disallows abortion. The most accurate thing to say is that Halacha is nuanced and does not take black or white positions on such hot-button and important issues.
“Based on the Bible, the fetus does not have full personhood until it is born. That does not permit abortion, but abortion does not constitute homicide.”
So, are Jews permitted to have abortions according to their faith? No, their faith just doesn’t stand in the way beyond encouraging Jews to avoid the practice unless it’s necessary to protect the mother’s life.
We would rate AOC’s remarks: FAKE NEWS.
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