Hallel Silverman
Hallel Silverman
Proud Progressive Israeli

S.B.8, Judaism, and abortion

The US Supreme Court met Monday to hear arguments on whether or not to allow abortion providers to fight the Texas Abortion Ban (S.B.8). The law, which violates a woman’s constitutional right to terminate a pregnancy recognized in 1973 Roe v. Wade, is intentionally designed to evade federal judicial review. It also violates religious freedom.

SB8 not only denies religious freedom, it is unethically designed.

Senate Bill 8 (SB8) imposes the nation’s toughest abortion restrictions, banning it after about six weeks of pregnancy—when many women do not even realize they are pregnant yet. In Judaism, the mother’s life is put first. If bearing a child would bring her harm—and the definition of harm varies in interpretation—she may terminate the pregnancy. In fact, according to halakha, there are cases in which the termination of a pregnancy is obligatory. 

Our tribe understands that the woman’s life is the priority, and she holds the right to choose. Only when the head emerges from the body is that baby an independent life with its own rights. It is therefore not surprising that, in Israel, abortion is not only legal, but free. Taking the option away from Jewish women with the US is a clear violation of religious freedom promised by the supposed separation of church and state.

I would like to note that this law has no exceptions for cases of rape or incest. The rapist can sue providers and thereby force his victim to carry his seed to term.

SB8 not only denies religious freedom, it is unethically designed. It encourages private citizens to enforce it through lawsuits against providers and anyone who helps a woman to get an abortion, causing financial ruin for professional and informal care providers, and turning citizen against citizen. As a Jew, I know where that leads.

I would like to note that this law has no exceptions for cases of rape or incest. The rapist can sue providers and thereby force his victim to carry his seed to term. After 3 hours of hearing arguments, the Supreme Court agreed to continue discussing the matter on Oct. 22. 

Let’s put this in terms perhaps some men on the Supreme Court can understand. Say a male high school student drunkenly assaults a young woman at a party and she is unable to repel him. He rapes and impregnates her. Should that poor young man then be forced to sacrifice his whole future to become a father? 

While the court suggested that they are reconsidering their positions, and could allow abortion providers to pursue a bid to invalidate the law, millions of women are still holding their breath waiting for the outcome.

I can’t believe that in 2021 we’re still even discussing laws on women’s bodies.

About the Author
Hallel Silverman is an American born, Israeli raised digital activist located in Tel Aviv. With nearly a decade in Israel Advocacy, Hallel has created and executed content for dozens of major organizations, and has been a leading voice online for progressive Zionism. She is an associate at the Tel Aviv Institute, and one of the Top 50 Digital Israel Influencers of 2021.
Related Topics
Related Posts
Comments