A model for resolving clashes between Jewish and liberal values

By
June 22, 2015 17:30

Israel’s abortion policy is an all-too-rare example of a compromise that gives both sides something important.




Washington

A protester holds a copy of the bible outside of the US Supreme Court building in Washington June 15, 2015. The US Supreme Court on Monday rejected a bid by the state of North Carolina to revive its law requiring women seeking an abortion to have an ultrasound of the fetus performed and described to. (photo credit:REUTERS)

I don’t think something should be news just because the New York Times tries to make it so by publishing an accusatory op-ed. But if you want to write about a topic that almost never makes headlines in Israel, you have to seize any opportunity. And Israel’s abortion policy is worth writing about, because it’s an all-too-rare example of a compromise that gives something important to both sides in a case where Jewish and liberal values clearly conflict.

I admit I once thought otherwise. Raised on America’s abortion wars, in which both sides take absolutist positions, I initially scorned Israel’s policy as institutionalized hypocrisy. And in some ways, it is: Whereas the letter of the law declares abortion legal only in exceptional cases, its application in practice makes abortions available to virtually anyone who wants one. But that tension between theory and practice – or hypocrisy, if you will – is precisely what makes the policy one both sides can live with.

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