Leonard Stern writes about us.
Andrea adds: Hmmmm. I may have to up the ante:
Last year, a new voice emerged — a curious voice, because it is distinctly female but at the same time willing to express discomfort with abortion.
“Willing to express discomfort”? More like a complete and total emotional, intellectual and spiritual rejection of abortion, because we don’t kill to solve our problems and then pretend they serve the grander purpose of women’s rights. Anyhoo. Bygones. I’m glad to get the press, and to see people taking this topic on.
Tanya’s trying to believe the best about people: I think Stern thinks he’s doing us a favour. He’s sketching us as open-minded, moderate, secular, intellectual women. If the blog gets more hits over the weekend, we’ll know why!
Rebecca recalls that any publicity is good publicity: Nonetheless, there is a distinctly patronizing flavour to the column, which is built on some rather, shall we say, outdated perceptions. The pro-life movement is mostly led by Christian fundamentalist men? (And, abortion advocates are all women? A significant current in the abortion movement is the fact that abortion cuts the links between men’s sexual activity and its consequences.) Pro-life women are “church ladies”? I don’t know if that was even true in the 1970s, but it’s certainly not the case now.
I have yet to meet a pro-lifer who wants to put women who have abortions in jail. The number I have met who think abortionists should be jailed I can count on both hands. Rather, the vast majority see abortion as something that destroys an innocent baby, while also harming the mother, and on a broader basis contributing to a culture of death. It’s a moral, cultural and philosophical problem inextricably tied to our views about sexuality, motherhood and marriage – it’s not a criminal problem, like drunk driving, to be solved by ramped up penalties and fervent prosecution.
Religious Jews have long taken the kind of nuanced position that Stern suggests is a strange new hybrid surfacing for the first time today. (And as with lots of aspects of Jewish law, “long” is measured in centuries, not in years.) Abortion, in Jewish law, cannot be banned full stop, because when the pregnancy constitutes a mortal threat to the mother, we are obliged to put the life of the mother before the life of the unborn child. (Note that this refers to mortal danger, not mental duress, or even minor physical harm.) At the same time, halacha recognizes that a fetus is a developing human, in the image of God, and therefore sacred, and not to be harmed for any reasons but the most dire.
(Disclaimer: I am not a rabbi, some individual rabbis dissent about the permissibility of abortion in the first 40 days of pregnancy, and rabbinical positions on oral contraceptives, the morning after pill, IVF and the treatment of embryos vary widely.)by