Abortion: An aberration.

I own three blogs. One is mostly professional, although you will find many non-professional topics covered there. One is entirely about cigars, and there are very few topics covered there that are not cigar related. The last blog is this one, dedicated to my weight loss journey.

If you are a regular reader of this blog then the following post is completely off topic. It is very political and religious. If you are not interested, or might be offended, then please, dear reader, back out now and come back for tomorrow’s daily article. This post covers a hot button topic, and while I know it will offend many, it is not my intention to chase away my regular blog readers… even though you number in the tens and not thousands!

Thank you for your understanding.


One of the most divisive issues in American politics is the issue of abortion. Does a woman’s right to choose supersede the fetus’ right to life is so hot a topic that families and friendships are destroyed over it.

Earlier this year, the Supreme Court of United States overturned the historic Roe vs. Wade decision that had been the de facto law of the land for forty-nine years. It shocked the country and became, once again, a hot issue – hotter than it ever had been. Protesters outside abortion clinics talk about the Sixth Commandment: Thou Shalt Not Kill. It is actually written in the Torah twice: Exodus 20:13 and Deuteronomy 5:17. Whether or not you went to religious school or not, we can all agree that this is the Sixth Commandment, right?

Wrong. The actual commandment, when translated from the original Hebrew (which reads “לא תרצח”) is: Thou shalt not Murder. Let’s be clear about that, and then you can decide for yourself whether your beliefs still apply.

I saw an image today of protesters outside of an abortion clinic waving crosses in peoples’ faces. For these people, abortion is obviously a religious issue. Here’s the thing though: the United States is not a land governed by Christianity. It is governed by law, and it is clear to anyone with a passing knowledge of History that the Founding Fathers of the US did not want it to be a theocracy. Whether they envisioned what would become of theocracies around the world or were just sick of King George III and his C of E, it does not matter. They were very clear that the laws would not be religious laws.

With that in mind, here is where every argument against abortion falls apart. We cannot account for every situation. A friend (who is clearly anti-abortion) shared a link supporting her side, stating that ‘…with the over a dozen birth control methods, why are you getting pregnant in the first place?’ I commented: “Rape. Incest. Intimidation. Shame. The inability to safely and without judgment or parental consent get those birth control methods. Men who force or coerce them. Just off the top of my head…” She replied that the Morning After pill should negate the need for abortion. My response was clear, but irrelevant here.

The problem is that we cannot account for every situation. We do not know every permutation of how a woman (or girl) gets pregnant. ‘Hey, there’s the Morning After pill’ is a terrible argument when a rape victim is ten years old and has to explain to mommy that mommy’s boyfriend raped her. Never mind the fact that girls who should still be playing with Barbie dolls might not know all of their options, and even if they did, would still be mortified to talk to an adult about S-E-X.

We cannot account for every situation, and until there is a law that can literally say that: “Abortion should be illegal, except in the case of:” and then list every possible reason why abortion should be allowed, then abortion should be legal.

During political campaigns we hear the phrase late-term abortion being thrown around a lot. Ooh, the evil satanic Left believe that a woman should be allowed to abort a pregnancy in the ninth month. That is not what they are talking about. Anyone who says or implies that is either ignorant or trying to spin the position of the Left. To be clear: There is no sane and healthy woman in the world who, after carrying a fetus/baby in their womb for eight and a half months, would want to suddenly terminate the pregnancy. Late term abortions are performed for health reasons only.

As I mentioned, a great many anti-abortion protesters talk about Jesus and wave the cross. Here’s the thing: I am not Christian. With that said, seeing as they want to share their religious opinion with women who are in distress, I am going to take this opportunity to share the Jewish law on it. Jewish law does not consider the fetus to be a being with a soul until it is born. That means that until the child is born, the mother’s life takes precedent. This is not an opinion, this is law. According to Mishna Oholos 7:3, “If a woman is having trouble giving birth, they cut up the child in her womb and bring it forth limb by limb, because her life comes before the life of [the child].” This is a terrible image to conjure… but the mother is a life, and the unborn baby is not a life until it is breathing, although the Mishna does not mention assisted breathing with mechanical instruments, this would count as well.**

It is terrible to imagine, but an unhealthy pregnancy – in the first trimester or at the end of the third – can kill the mother, and Jewish law is clear in that it is the mother’s life that must be preserved over that of the unborn child.

There is a great quote from the TV show The West Wing that I turn to when asked my opinion on the subject. I think that abortion should be legal, and it should be a lot rarer than it is. While I agree that it should not be used as a method of birth control, I know that it is not so easy to determine for the sake of writing a law what is an acceptable reason, since none of us are omniscient. Wouldn’t it therefor be better to write a law that allows a woman and her doctor to make the decision, rather than taking the potential life-saving option out of the hands of caring doctors, and putting it in the hands of politicians with political agendas?

I have never had an abortion, and I do not own a womb or a uterus so frankly I cannot do any better than turning to my faith, and my religious teachings, and to my common sense. By the way, the law that I quoted above was codified in about 190 C.E., which means it predates the compilation of the New Testament by over 125 years. While laws can be changed, they are meant to be compassionate. If we are to evolve as a society, and not devolve into a theocracy, then we need to show compassion… and our laws need to reflect that.

Grieve for woman who need abortions, but do not villainize them. Do not shame them and guilt them, and do not judge them because you know your story… you do not know theirs. Pray for them if you wish, and for the unborn fetus, but do not make these women (and often little girls) and their health care providers into criminals. That lacks compassion… and if you do follow a Christian faith, then remember that Jesus of Nazareth would want you to show compassion for those with whom you do not agree. He would want you to pray for them, and to help them how you can, and not force them to do your bidding. He was, after all, Jewish.

** Quotes in this paragraph are taken from the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, from an excellent opinion piece by Ephraim Sherman, which can be read in its entirety here.

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