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Not All Religions Oppose Abortion

Not All Religions Oppose Abortion

For decades, the Christian religious right’s opposition to abortion has dominated the reproductive rights debate in the United States. Activists spent years pushing states and the federal government toward more restrictive policies; those efforts culminated in the Supreme Court’s decision overturning the constitutionally protected right to an abortion.

But Christians aren’t the only people of faith with deeply held religious convictions regarding reproductive rights. Judaism not only teaches that abortion is permitted, but compels Jewish faith leaders to fight for reproductive rights, says Rabbi Danya Ruttenberg, an author, scholar in residence for the National Council of Jewish Women, and creator of Rabbis for Repro, a national network of Jewish clergy working to support reproductive rights in their communities and on a national level.

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The argument Ruttenberg and other rabbis are making has important implications for the law. If Judaism teaches that abortions are necessary, then laws denying the right to an abortion infringe upon the religious freedoms of Jewish people to have them. In Florida, one rabbi, Barry Silver of L’Dor Va-Dor in Palm Beach County, is suing the state to block a new 15-week abortion ban from going into effect, arguing that the proposed rule restricts religious freedom and amounts to “theocratic tyranny.” (A judge announced he would temporarily block the new law, one day before it was set to take effect, in response to a separate lawsuit.) In Israel, officials announced new policies meant to ease abortion access in the wake of the Supreme Court’s decision.

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Vox spoke with Ruttenberg about what Judaism teaches on abortion, and the role Jewish leaders will play in the next phase of the abortion rights fight.

This conversation has…

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