A South Florida synagogue is suing to block the state’s newly passed 15-week abortion ban from going into effect on July 1. The lawsuit, filed Friday by Congregation L’Dor Va-Dor, argues that the law violates not only privacy rights, but religious freedom rights for Jewish people.
“For Jews, all life is precious, and thus the decision to bring new life into the world is not taken lightly or determined by state fiat,” according to the lawsuit. “In Jewish law, abortion is required if necessary to protect the health, mental or physical well-being of the woman, or for many other reasons not permitted under the act [the new law]. As such, the act prohibits Jewish women from practicing their faith free of government intrusion and thus violates their privacy rights and religious freedom.”
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Those who “do not share the religious views reflected in the act will suffer … irreparable harm by having their religious freedom under the Florida Constitution violated,” the lawsuit also says. And, “This failure to maintain the separation of church and state, like so many other laws in other lands throughout history, threatens the Jewish family, and thus also threatens the Jewish people by imposing the laws of other religions upon Jews.”
As Rabbi Raymond A. Zwerin and Rabbi Richard J. Shapiro explained at the Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice, “These are the guiding principles on abortion in Jewish tradition: a woman’s life, her pain, and her concerns take precedence over those of the fetus; existing life is always sacred and takes precedence over a potential life; and a woman has the personal freedom to apply the principles of her tradition unfettered by the legal imposition of moral standards other than her own.”
That is … not the Republican position on abortion, and Republicans are absolutely willing to trample the Jewish tradition to assert their own views.
The lawsuit comes as all clinics in a few states have already stopped providing abortions, in anticipation of the Supreme Court’s expected opinion overturning Roe v. Wade. It is still possible to get a legal abortion in Florida, but it is not in Oklahoma or South Dakota; meanwhile, it’s not possible to make a new appointment in Missouri, or an appointment in Wisconsin past the end of the current Supreme Court term. So the threat to abortion access is very real, and in some places, it is as if Roe was already no longer the law.
Despite all the Republican screaming about religious freedom when it comes to bigoted wedding cake bakers and florists, Congregation L’Dor Va-Dor’s lawsuit is not going to lead to a sudden surge of Republicans backing off of abortion bans due to the religious freedom concerns raised in the lawsuit. Because just as Republicans don’t think women should be able to make decisions about their own bodies, they don’t—loud “support” for Israel notwithstanding—give a damn about Jewish people or Jewish traditions.
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