Posted on: September 10, 2021
The Rabbinical Assembly denounces and condemns the so-called Heartbeat Law passed last Wednesday in Texas, effectively making it impossible for women to receive an abortion there. In the most restrictive abortion law to date, the heartbeat law (Senate Sill 8) prevents women in Texas from receiving an abortion beginning only six weeks into their pregnancy, at a time when most women do not even know they are pregnant. It is a law designed to restrict reproductive rights, rather than allow Texas women to choose freely for themselves, in consultation with medical professionals, religious authorities, and their own consciences. The law also takes the unprecedented step of allowing any Texan to sue anyone else who is believed to have helped another access an abortion, regardless of their location in the state or standing in the case.
We learn in Judaism that while the fetus has a special status as potential life, full personhood does not begin at conception, but rather at birth, as indicated by Exodus 21:22-23. In our understanding of Jewish law and tradition, abortion is permitted and often mandated in cases where the life of the mother is at risk, regardless the stage of her pregnancy. Barring a woman from accessing an abortion not only blocks her right to choose, but also her religious freedoms.
We will work to overturn this egregious law and return the right to choose and religious freedom back to women in Texas and to all others similarly seeking to overturn these rights which are guaranteed under the US Constitution.