Irit Rosenblum 58.
(photo credit: Courtesy)
Every year, the chief rabbis launch an aggressive campaign to prevent
The guardians of women’s bodies preach about the importance of
maintaining pregnancies, even unwanted ones. Last month, Chief Rabbis Yona
Metzger and Shlomo Amar called on all rabbis to fight what they call “the plague
taking place in our country.”
Let’s clarify what an unwanted pregnancy
is. In many cases, these pregnancies are a result of rape or incest. In others,
the women know they cannot take care of the unborn child and don’t want to see
themselves or their children fall into poverty.
Just this year, Shas MK
Nissim Ze’ev said “abortion is a catastrophe in Jewish law. According to the
Torah, abortion is the murder of a fetus in his mother’s womb.”
Deri, chief rabbi of Beersheba and chairman of the Committee for Prevention of
Abortion of the Chief Rabbinate, added: “Abortion is murder. There is no more
important issue on the public agenda today than encouraging births and
preventing abortions. We disseminated a legal ruling that says abortion is
murder. We want the abortion approval committee to be more stringent in
Yes, murder. Our hospitals employ fulltime
executioners who are aided and abetted by women who may turn from victims of
rape or incest, ignorance or carelessness, into butchers.
One might think
that at any given moment, women are susceptible to this terrible plague of
independent thought or wanton desire to abort. If a woman is infected by this
terrible epidemic, the rabbis say she will find ominous ways to slaughter the
fruit of her womb.
There is no end to the patronizing audacity that the
rabbis exhibit in their commandment of the daughters of Israel not to
USING THE term murder is chilling. It’s cruel and immoral, and
insinuates that crime is raging in our streets and that these female criminals
must be apprehended.
Are hundreds of thousands of murderers running
around free? Or are we talking about women who took their fate into their hands,
so as not to make themselves or their unwanted children miserable? Abortion in
the first weeks of pregnancy is not murder. In the early stages, professionals
say that though the fetal tissue is human, it is not a living and conscious
It seems that every time the rabbis fall out of favor with the
public, they seek an easy target, and the easiest is incitement against
abortions. Who will attack them for that? Women who had abortions? Women who are
forced to decide whether or not to continue their pregnancies are not
emotionally available for reactions and returning fire. Women who choose to have
abortions don’t want to announce it to the public nor share their deliberations.
They are adults, with sound opinions and judgment, who don’t need to be preached
to. They don’t need to be called names nor suffer such accusations.
would be better for the rabbis to remain quiet, and better still for the Knesset
to cancel the Pregnancy Termination Committees. Approval committees are the
standard procedure here, and are no less aggressive than the rabbis, because
they too lack the confidence in women’s judgment.
It is a humiliating
situation that requires that a woman seeking an abortion justify her decision
before a committee, distinguished as it may be.
Imagine requiring the
approval of a committee for every operation we need.
By virtue of its
authority to approve or deny abortions, the committee validates the rabbinic
line of thought that women lack the wisdom and right to exercise judgment, and
that their decisions need to be audited.
Religious figures occasionally
claim that women are equal and spice up the statement with a cache of empty
This equality is empty if the truly significant decisions
about the lives and bodies of women are taken out of women’s hands. This is
false morality, if women are only vessels in the hands of rabbis who determine
The Knesset must respect women’s judgment and the medical
information they receive from doctors that help them decide. We must not be
silent in the face of the false morality of the religious
Abortion is a woman’s right to control her body. It’s an
important, private decision and we must respect every woman’s choice.
writer is founder and executive director of New Family Organization.