Letter: Abortion ban violates religious rights

Graphic by Lori Deaton

Throughout the USA, and especially in diverse Asheville, freedom of religion is a constitutionally protected right. Western North Carolina has synagogues, churches and various spiritual communities. We are truly a community that honors enlightenment in any form. Different religions have different understandings of when life begins. In Judaism, life begins at breath, not at conception. The fetus is a potential life that never takes precedence over the life of the pregnant person. For that reason, it is imperative that we make sure abortion stays safe and accessible for everyone.

Bans on abortion aren’t just a violation of the human right to bodily autonomy; they’re a violation of our religious rights as Jews. Abortion care is health care, and health care is a human right. Jewish teachings command us to care for everyone. Abortion access is a Jewish value, and bans on abortion are a violation of Jewish religious freedom and human rights.

Now that North Carolina has made 20 weeks the cutoff time for a legal abortion, think about pregnancies that are not progressing normally, or the woman has medical problems with her pregnancy. This ban will have significant impact on our community’s women’s reproductive health care. Our local Planned Parenthood is experiencing an influx of women from out of state seeking help. The ban will also impact social service needs in every state that abortion is illegal. We will all bear the burden of the abortion ban.

— Mena Kates
Carolina Jews for Justice
Reproductive Justice Team


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4 thoughts on “Letter: Abortion ban violates religious rights

  1. C-Law


    You have absolutely no halakhic authority to make the claims you do as if speaking for all who observe Torah and practice Judaism. Shame on you.

    There have been for an incredibly long time a variety of halakhic viewpoints on abortion…in very broad terms viewpoints that are more lenient, moderately lenient, moderately strict, and strict as regards allowance for or prohibition against abortion.

    Again, it is incredibly out of place for you to present yourself here as representing some kind of monolithic “Jewish” perspective on this issue…that is utter nonsense! More disturbing is your lack of halakhic authority to even speak on this or frankly any topic of halakha. You simply have no standing to make such comments, and even if you did your authority does not extend to me or any other Torah observant Jew.


  2. Clinton Jergensen

    I so want to agree with this writer on principle. But even Israel, I would think the epitome of the official word of the Jewish peoples, has a pretty structured set of laws for a woman’s right to abortion. In fact, even there it’s closely monitored where an abortion has to be approved by a “termination committee”. True there are woman who have abortions in Israel without going through a committee, but that route is illegal. In application, the laws there are as convoluted and in some cases as unenforceable as in the USA. It’s a difficult subject everywhere as it will always be as we humans are wonderful at practicing hypocrisy when talking about the sanctity of human life. Which is why for the woman who is in dire straits living possibly one of the hardest decisions of her life, we don’t need as a ‘free’ society to be dictating our theological or otherwise moral high ground unless we’re also willing to support both potential mother, fetus, and child from conception and beyond. And I do mean both person’s physical, financial, mental, and spiritual support for life. Otherwise, ideally, it’s no more our societal’s business to be “in on this decision” than most anything else one is doing to/of/for one’s self.

  3. Enlightened Enigma

    If you don’t like abortion, don’t have one, but please, let’s keep it available for ALL democrat females.


    YHWH breathed the breath of life into Adam, who was made from dust. The lives of people today begin biologically and at fertilization. Religious liberty does not include the sacrifice of innocent human beings. I once met with Rabbi Shmuel Burnham at the Conservative Synagogue in Asheville and we looked at the Hebrew text of Deuteronomy together. Two men fighting and a pregnant woman caught in the middle. He admitted that the text was ambiguous as to whether potential harm deserving a penalty was to the mother only, or to both the pre-natal child and the mother. Burnham was an outspoken, public supporter of legal abortion.

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