American abortion debate is certainly about bodily autonomy

The American’s are so proud, saying they live in the country of the free.

What we might see is that for white supremacists weapons may be carried and black people killed without hesitation. Strangely enough, lots of people shouting against abortion have nothing against the killing of youngsters and adult people, and cry for having the death penalty again in all their states. But when it comes to a woman, it looks like she has no right to decide about her own body.

The Supreme Court has voted to strike down the landmark Roe v. Wade decision, according to an initial draft majority opinion written by the American lawyer and jurist who serves as an associate justice of the Supreme Court of the United States, Justice Samuel Alito circulated inside the court and obtained by Politico.

The draft opinion is a full-throated, unflinching repudiation of the 1973 decision which guaranteed federal constitutional protections of abortion rights and a subsequent 1992 decision — Planned Parenthood v. Casey — that largely maintained the right.

Roe was egregiously wrong from the start,”

Alito writes.

On January 22, 1973, there was the legal case in which the U.S. Supreme Court ruled (7–2) that unduly restrictive state regulation of abortion is unconstitutional. In a majority opinion written by Justice Harry A. Blackmun, the Court held that a set of Texas statutes criminalizing abortion in most instances violated a woman’s constitutional right of privacy, or “the right to be let alone”, which it found to be implicit in the liberty guarantee of the due process clause of the Fourteenth Amendment to the Constitution of the United States that granted citizenship and equal civil and legal rights (“…nor shall any state deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law”).

Unlike other rights concepts, such as human rights or natural rights, in which people acquire rights inherently, perhaps from God or nature, civil rights must be given and guaranteed by the power of the state. Therefore, they vary greatly over time, culture, and form of government and tend to follow societal trends that condone or abhor particular types of discrimination.

Question hereby is how far a state may come to intervene by personal matters of an individual. Several Americans seem to find it justified that a state has the right to decide what a person should do, may do and may not do with the own body and parts in this person’s body.

In 1965 the Supreme Court held that the federal Constitution included an implied right of privacy. In that case, Griswold v. Connecticut, the court invalidated a law prohibiting the use of contraceptives, even by married persons. As such the American law wanted to restrict a person her freedom to decide not to become pregnant. Justice William O. Douglas, writing for the court, stated that there is a “zone of privacy” within a “penumbra” created by fundamental constitutional guarantees, including the First, Fourth, and Fifth amendments. The Supreme Court extended this right to privacy to sexual relationships in 2003, striking down a Texas law criminalizing sodomy.

Henry Wade, the district attorney of Dallas county, Texas, disagreed with “Jane Roe” — a fictional name used to protect the identity of the plaintiff, Norma McCorvey (1947–2017), her assertion of an absolute right to terminate pregnancy in any way and at any time and attempted to balance a woman’s right of privacy with a state’s interest in regulating abortion.

Today this concept is again under discussion. Some conservative Christian judges wish to reverse the right to abortion. They believe that the right to life of the foetus takes precedence over the right of the female carrier.

In 1970, with regard to the foetus, the Court located that point at “capability of meaningful life outside the mother’s womb,” or viability, which occurs at about 24 weeks of pregnancy.

Repeated challenges since 1973 narrowed the scope of Roe v. Wade, but did not overturn it. In Planned Parenthood of Southeastern Pennsylvania v. Casey (1992), the Supreme Court established that restrictions on abortion are unconstitutional if they place an “undue burden” on a woman seeking an abortion before the foetus is viable.

The big question in the whole debate is therefore about the viability of a being that would be formed in the womb, of a human being, who can then be seen as a carrier or ‘borrow-mother’ and co-responsible. Foetal viability is generally considered to begin at 24 weeks gestational age,

Now again it seems that several states want to forbid women to do with their own body what they themselves want to decide, like taking preservatives or ending a pregnancy. Problem is that by not allowing to have abortion, the danger exists that, as in the years before it was legalised, abortion shall come back in the illegal circuit and make it more dangerous for the women than going to a specialised medic or clinic.

In the States: “In the 1950s, estimates of numbers of illegal, unsafe abortions ranged widely, from 200,000 to 1.2 million per year. The methods used were often ineffective and dangerous….”

People may not forget that it is not an easy choice for a woman to decide to have an abortion … or not. There are many circumstances, like rape, abuse, and incest, where a pregnancy is not wanted and were having a child by an offender will not result in an acceptance and good upbringing of the child. Also in cases where poverty would be an indicator not to have any children anymore, it could be best for mother and child not to have the child come into the world. It would not be good for the child or parent to have illegal back-alley abortions again.

People should be aware of the dreadful human misery involved. We naturally better take care no unwanted pregnancy would occur, but when it happens, our modern world should provide a sufficient and safe solution.

On one side, Americans claim everybody should be free to choose how they want to live and which religion they want to have. If a nation than declares no established religion, enshrining the free exercise of any religion, why would abortion not be federally protected?

When a person is free to choose his religion, let that person also act freely according to the laws and ideas of that religion.

Jewish law commands us to choose life when contemplating abortion. That is, choose the life of the pregnant person. And to take away a woman’s right to choose to have an abortion as a Jewish woman is a violation of her first amendment right to religious freedom.

Having no religion at all is also part of freedom of religion, and there, in the same way, a woman should be free to do with her own body what she wants to do.

People should know that it is crucial to understand the implications of religious freedom and should see how Christian fundamentalists on the Supreme Court use their religiously-backed arguments to deny women’s right to abortion, by prohibiting the use of their own religious freedom and their right of deciding about their own body.

It is true that every living being must be protected, but one must also ensure that the life-giving person can enjoy full protection. The safety of the pregnant person comes in the first place. If she could become in danger by continuing carrying the foetus, the latter one should be taken away.

There are rabbinical teachings that prioritize the live of the pregnant lady, not declaring a foetus a ‘person’ until it has fully exited the womb:

“It is not a soul, and [so] it is possible to kill it and to save its mother. But when its head comes out, we cannot touch it to kill it, as it is like a born [baby]; and we do not push off one soul for the sake of another” (Rashi on Sanhedrin 72b:14:1).

Actual life comes before potential life.

For years there have been many debates about when life begins and when life ends. This has caused very heated debates in both Christian and Jewish circles.

Judaism does not believe life begins at conception.

The late Rabbi Eliezer Waldenberg, a leading Jewish authority, posek, and dayan in Jerusalem, who as legal scholar determined the position of halakha, upheld this prioritization of the pregnant person, writing in his major work “She’elot U’Teshuvot Tzitz Eliezer”:

“If there is a danger to the mother from continuing the pregnancy, one should permit abortion without hesitation.
Also, if her health is poor and to cure her or to relieve her from great pain it is necessary to abort the foetus, even if she is not in actual danger, there is room to permit it…

Indeed, psychological suffering is in many ways much greater than the suffering of the flesh.”

That psychological aspect is, for sure, one aspect that one may not minimalize.

Every Conservative rabbi naturally has the right as mara d’atra to interpret Jewish law for his own community, regardless of the responsa of the Law Committee, but from him is expected that he sincerely will have studied each individual case according to the love for Torah and creature of Hashem.

According to Jewish law, a foetus has no legal standing on its own. The renowned medieval French commentator on the Bible and the Talmud, Rashi, declared the foetus as part of the parent, not a person in its own right.

But there is also, importantly, a distinction made for “therapeutic” and “nontherapeutic” abortions. This is first mentioned in the oldest authoritative postbiblical collection and codification of Jewish oral laws, the Mishna, that if a woman’s life is in danger, it is permissible for her to have a therapeutic abortion in order to save her life. This is always true until the majority of the foetus has exited the birth canal. The foetus is only a potential life, not an actual human life, until it has been born. This concept of therapeutic abortions also applies when the life of the foetus is non-viable outside of the womb and would not survive once born.

One should remember that the life of the parent is always considered more important than the life of the foetus.

Problems arise when the pregnant woman is not in any danger. In such instances inflicting ideas can be found. The more lenient reasons why abortion may be permissible correlate with more liberal streams of Judaism and Jewish thought. More egalitarian and Reform spaces have made more allowances for what qualifies as permissible than spaces that are more traditional and follow halacha (Jewish law) more closely.

Though American Jews seem to have lesser problems with the allowance of abortion than their Christian counterparts. A Pew survey from 2015 found that 83 percent of Jewish adults support abortion in all or most cases. This is partially because Jews recognize that the decision to have an abortion, for any reason, is between a pregnant person and their doctor, and no one else.

And that is how each of us should see the matter. It is totally up to the pregnant person herself to decide what to do with the foetus she is carrying. She and the medical staff around her should be the only ones in control. Out of love and understanding, we should not judge the person’s decision but should support her to come over that difficult period in her life. We as brothers and sisters should give that person the feeling that we have an understanding of her condition and her own decisions. For this prayers could be said and ceremonies held.

President Biden had good reason to declare Tuesday that a woman’s right to have an abortion is “fundamental”.

Let us also tell others that all people who can become pregnant should have the right to make their own choices and make up their own minds about their bodies. It is not up to a stranger to decide what has to happen to her and her foetus.

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Find to read

Preceding

  1. About lions and babies
  2. Religious Freedom in a Multicultural World
  3. The focus of multiculturalism in Europe on Muslims and Jews
  4. Pastoral discipline and dissent from papal teaching
  5. In Eastern Europe the Foundations of the European Union in danger
  6. Right-wing fundamentalist Christians to dictate the U.S.A.

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Additional reading

  1. About a human being or not and life
  2. Roman Catholic Church in the United States of America at war
  3. The Catholic synod on the family and abortion
  4. A philosophical error which rejects the body as part of the human person
  5. Always a choice
  6. American Senate ignoring many voices and tears of their own people
  7. 2014 Human Rights
  8. American social perception, classes and fear mongering
  9. Westboro Baptist Church and Catholic Truth against Nelson Mandela
  10. About lions and babies
  11. Youngsters, parents and the search to root in life
  12. Caricaturing and disapproving sceptics, religious critics and figured out ethics
  13. Added commentary to the posting A Progressive Call to Arms
  14. Christian fundamentalists feeding Into the Toxic Partisanship and driving countries into the Dark Ages… #2

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Related

  1. Abortion has been legal in the United States since the 18th century, and discussion about it began shortly after.
  2. Abortion Has Always Been a Part of America—Even if Alito Won’t Admit It
  3. Roe
  4. Roe vs Wade
  5. Post-Roe worse than pre-Roe?
  6. Overturning of Roe v. Wade would change landscape for medication abortion
  7. If Roe v. Wade is overturned, what does that mean for Texas?
  8. US supreme court poised to kill abortion law. Here’s what it means
  9. Cletus v. Fetus…
  10. Abortive
  11. Thoughts on Abortion (Do I post this or do I not?)
  12. If Abortion Is Illegal, Will Every Miscarriage Be a Potential Crime?
  13. The Homefront
  14. Deafening Silence on Abortion at Synod
  15. Abortion Advocacy Is Extremisim
  16. Hot Topic #3, Abortion!!
  17. The Child Who Never Was
  18. Refuting ‘Pro Choice’ Slogans
  19. I’m pro life
  20. In Defense of the Unborn
  21. Sanctity of Life
  22. Ways To Stop Abortion!
  23. States with strictest abortion laws offer few resources for mothers, children
  24. Possible Reversal of Roe V. Wade Would Not Outlaw All Abortions in US
  25. Jenny Breen: The ‘Raw Judicial Power’ of Samuel Alito Is an Attack on Dignity, Autonomy, and Progress
  26. Louisiana advances bill banning abortion from point of fertilization
  27. Supreme Court to overturn Roe vs Wade? – My take
  28. Gallup: 49% “pro-choice”, 47% “pro-life”…
  29. As a Black Jewish Woman, I’m Livid About the Abortion Debate
  30. Malawi Abortion Law
  31. South Florida State Sen. to Draft Bill Protecting Abortion, Rollback 15-Week Ban
  32. Democrats worry they lack a plan to fight back on Roe v. Wade
  33. Alito’s Opinion Is Brilliant and Shrewd
  34. The Hill’s Morning Report — Lacking votes, Dems plot message on abortion
  35. Scalia Was Right — Again
  36. American law is now hurtling towards apartheid for women
  37. Lawmakers in one state push to classify abortions as homicides
  38. Abortion pills can be hard to get in Canada. Demand from the U.S. could make it harder
  39. 13 phrases US doctors want removed from our vocabulary about abortion
  40. Tensions Are Rising in United States About the Future of Abortion Rights
  41. Choosing not to have children: ‘My so-called selfish life’ by Therese Shechter
  42. Biden declares right to abortion ‘fundamental’ after leak of draft Supreme Court opinion
  43. Pushing Back at the Rise in Anti-Abortion Laws & What You Can Do.

Published by Immanuel Verbondskind

Being a creature of the Most High Maker, wanting to know His Word better and to see clear in the many religious groups this world has. + Een schepsel van de Allerhoogste Maker, die Zijn Woord beter wil leren kennen en duidelijk wenst te zien in de Goddelijke Boodschap en in de vele religieuze groeperingen van deze wereld.

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