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October 27, 2016 / 25 Tishri, 5777

Posts Tagged ‘abortion’

Jewish Hospital Sued for Refusing to Abort Healthy Twin

Friday, August 5th, 2016

Mount Sinai hospital in Toronto, Canada, was taken to a human rights tribunal hearing by a woman, 45, who demanded that one of the twins she was carrying be aborted, using, as the procedure is described euphemistically, “selective reduction,” the National Post reported this week. The doctors involved refused to abort the healthy fetus, and the hospital told the patient in an email that they only reduce triplets or larger groupings, unless one of the twins in question exhibits an anomaly.

An article on the website of the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, titled, “Fetal Reduction From Twins to a Singleton: A Reasonable Consideration?” concludes: “…physicians know that spontaneous twin pregnancy losses average 8–10%. Also, with experience, multi-fetal pregnancy reduction has become very safe in our hands. Our data suggest that the likelihood of taking home a baby is higher after reduction than remaining with twins. We propose that twin-to-singleton reductions might be considered with appropriate constraints and safeguards.”

The Mount Sinai email informed the patient that the procedure was available in the US, but did not recommend a specific facility. The hospital later cited the “conscience of the clinicians” as the reason they could not go about eliminating one of the two healthy twin fetuses.

The patient, identified in the complaint as C.V., said in an interview: “It was very much a judgmental and ill-thought and essentially disrespectful reaction … I was literally in disbelief.”

The patient retained the services of Amir Attaran, an Iranian-American Associate Professor of Law and Population Health and the holder of the Canada Research Chair in Law, Population Health and Global Development Policy at the University of Ottawa, who filed a complaint on her behalf with the Ontario Human Rights Tribunal, for discrimination on the basis of sex and family status.

According to the Toronto Sun, in 2007 Prof. Attaran alleged he had proof of Canada’s military abusing Afghan detainees. But he never produced any of the promised proof, nor was such proof found by an all-party parliamentary committee. In 2013, when Attorney General of Canada and Minister of Justice Peter MacKay criticized Liberal leader Justin Trudeau for his admitted marijuana use, Attaran filed a complaint with the Nova Scotia Bar Association, accusing MacKay of professional misconduct. The complaint was dismissed. Also in 2013, Attaran filed a complaint alleging professional misconduct against lawyers who worked in the Prime Minister’s Office for violating legal ethics. According to the Toronto Star, those allegations “were fully investigated” and the inquiry was closed.

Needless to say, after Prof. Attaran had filed his complaint, Mount Sinai quickly referred C.V. to Toronto’s Sunnybrook Health Sciences Center, where they performed the “reduction.”

Last July, the tribunal exonerated the hospital, ruling that “the facts as alleged by the applicant do not establish a case of discrimination under the Code. In particular, the applicant cannot show that she was denied equal treatment to the medical service she wanted because of family status or because of pregnancy. The Application is dismissed on that basis.”

But according to the National Post, Mount Sinai has now amended its policy to say that elective fetal abortion is “ethically complex and divides many people,” and doctors unwilling to abort a healthy twin pregnancy for reasons of conscience or religion should have a plan in place to refer patients to other physicians.


Government Panel Wants to Fund Abortions

Monday, December 30th, 2013

The government will actively promote abortions by funding them for women between ages 20 and 33 if a proposal by a Health Ministry committee is accepted.

Israel’s”basket” of drugs and medical treatment gives hefty discounts for citizens, and the government adds “goodies” to the basket each year. The committee that came up with this coming year’s basket recommends that health funds cover abortions for women in the age bracket even if they have no medical reason to terminate a pregnancy.

Drugs for ADD/ADHD and alcohol addiction were not included in the recommendations for this year’s basket, but approval was suggested for new drugs for cancer treatment, AIDS and epilepsy.

Jewish Press News Briefs

‘You Murder the Children’: Rav Soloveitchik on Abortion

Monday, September 23rd, 2013

When one thinks of Modern Orthodoxy, Rav Joseph B. Soloveitchik zt”l soon comes to mind for his leadership thereof. In our time, however, Modern Orthodoxy has become a vague term with problematic tendencies. As Rabbi Steven Pruzansky–who has numerous shiurim on Yeshiva University’s Torah website–recently wrote, “Too often, one finds in the Modern Orthodox world grievances of one sort or another against this or that aspect of Torah, as if Jews get to sit in judgment of God and His Torah.”

No issue might better crystallize the dissonance between Rav Soloveitchik’s Modern Orthodoxy and today’s than abortion. Let us consider the great man’s views.

During a shiur on Parashat Bo in 1975, Rav Soloveitchik stated that “to me it is something vulgar, this clamor of the liberals that abortion be permitted,” adding:

“I consider the society of today as insane…I read from the press that in Eretz Yisrael they permit abortions now! Sapir [probably Pinchas Sapir] comes to the US and asks that 60,000 boys and girls should leave the US and settle in Eretz Yisrael. When a child is born, it’s also immigration to Eretz Yisrael, and yet you murder the children.”

Rav Soloveitchik then predicted:

“And if you kill the fetus, a time will come when even infants will be killed…The mother will get frightened after the baby will be born…and the doctor will say her life depends upon the murder of the baby. And you have a word, mental hygiene, whatever you want you can subsume under mental hygiene…And there is now a tendency for rabbis in the US to march along with society, otherwise they’ll be looked upon as reactionaries.”

Similar remarks appear in Reflections of the Rav:

“If the dominant principle governing the logos [“thinking capacity”] is that abortion is morally permissible because only a mother has a right to decide whether she wishes to be a mother, then infants may similarly have their lives terminated after birth. What if the child interferes with the promising brilliant career of the mother?”

These words might be jarring for those who view Rav Soloveitchik as the mild-mannered author of philosophically oriented books like The Lonely Man of Faith. Equally if not more jarring might be Rav Soloveitchik’s statements on sexual morality, which I discussed a few months ago.

Specific to abortion, one might counter that Rav Soloveitchik permitted an unborn child with Tay-Sachs disease to be aborted through the sixth month, but this proves just the opposite, namely: 1) What does this narrow, tragic case indicate about Rav Soloveitchik’s general view of abortion? 2) What does it indicate about Rav Soloveitchik’s view of abortion after the sixth month even in the case of Tay-Sachs? And vis-à-vis those who claim a woman’s absolute right to “terminate a pregnancy” at any point, I doubt such an attempt to (mis)represent Rav Soloveitchik as a “moderate” on abortion would be received agreeably. In this regard, one of Rav Soloveitchik’s sons-in-law, Rav Aharon Lichtenstein, shlita, has observed in the context of abortion:

“Even if we were to accept that indeed it is the woman’s own body, we totally reject the conception that she then can do with it as she pleases. This is a completely anti-halakhic perception [emphasis added]. It rests on a secular assumption that, as it were, ‘My Nile is my own; I made it for myself’ (Yechezkel 29:3), as if we are the source of our own existence and therefore the masters of our own being. This is assuredly not the case.”

Rav Lichtenstein summarizes the worldview of that anti-halakhic perception as follows:

“The essence of modern secular culture is the notion of human sovereignty; individual man is master over himself, and collective man is master over his collective… From a religious point of view, of course, eilu va-eilu divrei avoda zara—both approaches are idolatrous. Here one establishes individual man as an idol, and the one idolizes, in humanistic terms, humanity as a whole. The basis of any religious perception of human existence is the sense that man is not a master: neither a master over the world around him, nor a master over himself.”

Yes, Rav Soloveitchik earned a Ph.D. in philosophy from the University of Berlin (as likewise Rav Lichtenstein earned a Ph.D. in English literature from Harvard). Yes, Rav Soloveitchik enjoyed classical music (especially Bach). And first and foremost, Rav Soloveitchik was a Torah Jew for whom Halachah was not some intellectual game or cultural style, rather an all-encompassing conviction with profound social implications. Thus his denunciations of abortion, which derived from the same worldview as these remarks in 1953:

Menachem Ben-Mordechai

Joy of Motherhood in Israel after 9 Abortions in Soviet-Bloc

Thursday, July 11th, 2013

A Jewish couple from the former Soviet Bloc country of Georgia are the proud parents of a bouncing baby girl, born to the mother who was treated in Israel after having gone through nine abortions in 17 years in her home country.

Michael and Tamari Barikswili, both age 39, had all but given up hope to become parents. Their friends in the medical profession in Georgia suggested to them two years ago that they travel to Israel’s Rambam Medical Center in Haifa for examinations that might help them achieve their dream.

Last year, the couple met with Rambam’s Prof. Binyamin Brenner, head of the hematology department.

“We did not know what the problem was with us,” Michael said after the birth of their daughter Maryam last week.

After several examinations by Prof, Brenner, it became clear that Tamari suffers from a problem called in laymen’s terms “excessive blood clotting.”

It is a common problem of women who suffer from recurring abortions, and Rambam doctors have established a clear connection between the malady and abortions.

Tamari’s problem was identified through a simple blood test, which the couple said was not available in Georgia, where the standard of medicine is far below that of Israel.

They returned to Georgia but turned again to Rambam because of her history, and in her 13th week of pregnancy, they rented an apartment in Ramat Gan, adjacent to Tel Aviv and traveled back and forth to Haifa for examinations and constant monitoring.

“After the couple went through so much to become parents, everything becomes all the more significant,” notes Dir. Ido Sholat, of the Rambam unit overseeing women with difficult pregnancies.

“During all the months of check-ups, there were many different emotions, pressures and fears,” he added. “But the moment we saw that the pregnancy was advancing normally, all of us began to relax and enjoy this tremendous experience,” he adds.

Tamari said after the birth, “It is not so simple to go through all this when we are in Israel and everyone in the family is Georgia. But we waited 17 years for this, and I was prepared to do anything to become a mother.”

She and her husband kept in touch with family through e-mails and Skype and sent videos and pictures.

Michael and Tamari went back to Georgia with their daughter this past Sunday but they promise to return to Rambam next year – with a brother for sister for Maryam.

Tzvi Ben-Gedalyahu

Huckabee Compares Abortion with Holocaust

Sunday, February 24th, 2013

Evangelist and former presidential candidate Mike Huckabee, speaking at a “Celebrate Life” forum at a Iowa church Saturday, described abortion in the United States as an “incredible holocaust of our own” by having killed approximately  55 million embryos.

He said he was shocked at last year’s Democratic National Convention, where “speaker after speaker” said that most important issue was not the economy, terrorism, peace from enemies, the education system, lack of energy resources that make America slaves to some Middle Eastern tyrant who takes our money by the wads and then turns around and spends it to use against us to murder us and kill us in the name of a perverted faith.”

“No, that wasn’t the most important issue,” Huckabee continued.

“The most important issue was, ‘I want to be able to take the life of my baby and I want someone else to pay for it.’”

During a 30-minute speech, Huckabee he returned from Israel last week, where he said he often takes people to the grave of Oskar Schindler, the Nazi German businessman who saved about 1,200 Jews by employing them in his factories.

“Huckabee compared the Holocaust to abortion — the killing of humans who represent an inconvenience.” the Des Moines Register reported.

Jewish Press News Briefs

Is Christianity’s Notion of Abortion Based on Mistranslated Text?

Thursday, December 13th, 2012

For four decades abortion has dominated the social values-debate in America and deeply divided our nation into factions of pro-life and pro-choice. This year Republicans paid a huge price at the ballot box for extreme positions, like not allowing abortion even in the case of incest or rape, with two Republican Senate candidates going so far as to speak of ‘legitimate rape’ and divinely-sanctioned pregnancies that result from rape.

What is lost in this discussion are the Biblical underpinnings of abortion and how this is not primarily a legal issue but a religious one. Opponents of abortion do not look to the Constitution to cement their opposition but the Bible, and, as such, it is worth reviewing the Biblical text pertaining to abortion, which yields surprising results.

The Hebrew Bible makes only one reference to abortion, and this is by implication. Exodus 21:22-23 states: “And if two men strive together and hurt a woman with child, so that her fruit depart, and yet no harm follow, he shall be surely fined, accordingly as the woman’s husband shall lay upon him, and he shall pay as the judges determine. But if any harm follows, though shalt give life for life.”

There is a significant parting of the ways in the interpretation of this passage between Judaism and Catholicism which will, in turn, mark the much more lenient rulings on abortion of the former and the much more severe views of the latter.

According to the ancient Rabbis, the text is to be read simply as written. The Bible talks of a woman who is hurt by a man in a fight and loses her child. Monetary restitution is paid for her miscarriage. But if the woman dies, then one must take a life for a life. The passage does not say that a fetus is alive but that the mother is.

The words if “no harm follows” the ”hurt” to the woman refers to the survival of the woman following her miscarriage. In that case, there is no capital guilt involved since the woman did not die and the fetus is not considered to be fully alive. The attacker is therefore merely liable to pay compensation for the loss of her “fruit,” her fetus. “But,” the Bible continues,” if any harm follow,” i.e., if the woman, rather than her fetus, is fatally injured, then the man responsible for her death has to “give life for life.”

The interpretation is straightforward and matches the Hebrew original precisely. According to the Jewish interpretation the Bible only says that the woman, rather than her fetus, is living.

This interpretation that a fetus is not fully alive and the destruction of a fetus does not carry a death penalty is also borne out by the rabbinical interpretation of the verse defining the law of murder: ”He that smiteth a man, so that he dieth, shall surely be put to death” (Exodus 21:12), which the rabbis construed to mean “a man, but not a fetus.”

These passages clearly indicate that the killing of an unborn child is not considered as murder.

But the Christian tradition disputing this view goes back to a mistranslation in the Septuagint, the early Greek translation of the Bible that sometimes contains significant errors (see my book Kosher Jesus for a comprehensive list). There, the Hebrew for ”no harm follow” was replaced by the Greek for “[her child be born] imperfectly formed.”

This interpretation, distinguishing between an unformed and a formed fetus and branding the killing of the latter as murder, was accepted by Tertullian and by later church fathers and was subsequently embodied as canon law and in Justinian law. In the Christian interpretation, therefore, both parts of the verse are referring not to the mother’s life, but to the fetus’s. And the verse concludes you must ‘give life for life,’ meaning, a fetus is fully alive and destroying a fetus constitutes murder punishable by death.

This is the source for the Catholic position of viewing a fetus’s life as being the equal of a mother’s life and, therefore, even if the mother’s life is at risk one cannot perform an abortion as it constitutes murder.

Judaism, however, strongly disputes this interpretation which is not faithful to the Hebrew original. Therefore, the Talmud declares (Ohalos 7:6): If a woman is in hard travail [and her life cannot otherwise be saved], one cuts up the child in her womb and extracts it member by member, because her life comes before that of the [the child]. But if the greater part [or the head] was delivered, one may not touch it, for one may not set aside one person’s life for the sake of another.” A fetus is only alive when it is born, not before.

Rabbi Shmuley Boteach

Jewish Values are the Salvation of the Republican Party

Monday, November 19th, 2012

A ‘malignant weapon’. That was the phrase used by a friend of mine — a national TV host who inclines toward Republicans but this year voted Democrat, to describe how Republicans use religion. “Why has religion made Republicans harsh. Shouldn’t it give them a soft heart?”

The congressional campaign I ran was based on the idea that the economic malaise in America was due to a values erosion. So long as we obsess over abortion, gay marriage, and contraception to the exclusion of any other values, we cannot fix our problems. I ran to start the process of replacing the austerity of some of the Christian social values, which have defined the GOP for decades, with the positive and life-affirming values of Judaism.

I also knew, from my many lectures before women’s groups, that the sexual obsession that has come to define Republican social values could cost the GOP the election. At the start of my campaign, one Republican leader told me, “Americans want to hear about the economy, not values issues.” He was right. But little did he realize that extremist social values rhetoric would wound Republicans. There is now a consensus that the GOP’s alienation of women due to the social sexual obsession, as well as the alienation of Latinos due to their position on immigration, did incalculable harm to the GOP.

Here is what confuses me about Republican Jewish donors. They give the party their money when their values are probably even more relevant at this juncture. Why do those Jews who support the party generously not clamor for a greater infusion of Jewish values that would change the conversation away from values that alienate to values that inspire?

I care about the Republican Party because of its strong emphasis on the dignity that comes from economic opportunity and self-reliance, a robust foreign policy that holds dictators accountable for slaughtering their people, its emphasis on school choice, and strong support for Israel. And anyone who cares about the party knows that it can no longer postpone a serious reexamination of its sexual values obsession. My great teacher, the Lubavitcher Rebbe, advocated a ten point plan for people to start leading more spiritual lives. Only one of those ten was about sex, namely, the laws of Jewish family purity. That’s ten percent focus on sex. But the Republican trifecta of abortion, gay marriage, and contraception, is one hundred percent about sex. How strange is that?

And for those Democrats who are gloating about the Republican loss, with all due respect, at least the Republicans are trying to highlight moral issues, even if they’re misguided. The Democrats do not offend with their values because, with the exception of economic values issues, they barely discuss the subject. Here, then, is what the GOP must do to rebuild itself.

1.     Repudiate the religious extremists who are obsessed with abortion, rape, and sex. If candidates want to speak about legitimate rape or divinely-sanctioned rape, let them do so from an asylum. Not as official representatives of the Republican Party. If they want to obsess over sex and reduce all of America’s greatness to a trifecta of social sexual obsession, they can. They can create the “All-sex-all-the-time Party.” But get this conversation out of the GOP. The Republican Party represents more than opposition to abortion, gay marriage, and contraception. Judaism, for the record, allows contraception, believes that sex is for intimacy and pleasure as well as procreation, and has a far more lenient position on abortion than Catholics or Evangelicals. And since the Christian position on abortion is based on the Hebrew Bible, specifically Exodus 21:22, the time has perhaps come for Christians to look to the Jews for a different understanding of this text.

2.     Preach positive inspirational values that lead to altruistic citizenry. Bring the values conversation out of the bedroom and show Americans you’re prepared to talk about values in the boardroom and the living room. Stop talking exclusively about gay marriage and focus on saving heterosexual marriage. Make marital counseling tax deductible. Pass legislation creating a year of national service so America raises generations of more altruistic youth. If the Republican argument is that Democrats are winning elections because they have become the ‘Free Stuff Party,’ then counter by making the GOP into the ‘Serve America’ party. Embrace and co-opt the JFK’s credo of asking more about what we can give to our country rather than take from it.

3.     Embrace the Biblical Teaching of Loving the Stranger. No one should come into this country by breaking the law. But there might be something personally virtuous in a man or woman who steals across the Rio Grande at great risk to feed their babies and send money back to poor families. America has to stop illegal immigration. But that doesn’t mean it has to demonize illegal immigrants. We need to distinguish between those who steal into our country to blow up buildings and those who come in because they regard America as a land of opportunity. Stop ignoring the twelve million undocumented workers who form a shadow economy and who are not paying taxes while benefiting from living here. Mass deportation is unrealistic and immoral. Penalize them for having broken the law, but give them a path to remain here and contribute.

4.     Focus on legal immigration from Latin American countries, as opposed to Europe. As my friend Robert Goldbaum, who was a Romney surrogate, told me, Latin American immigrants want to come to America because they love its opportunities and want to work. This is different from the entitlement-addled economies of Europe whose immigrants are used to, and expect, government programs. Latino immigrants are deeply in sync with American values of hard work and entrepreneurship. The Republican Party should be taking the lead in pushing for far higher quotas for Latino immigrants as opposed to other regions.

5.     Show the black community that Republicans understand the history of adversity African-Americans have faced. There is little chance that many African-Americans will vote Republican right now. But it makes no difference. The Republican Party should undertake a grand gesture to give the lie once and for all that it is a party insensitive to black concerns. This is, after all, the party of Lincoln. The Republican house should sponsor a bill for the construction of a monument on the national mall commemorating the greatest American evil of all, namely slavery, to demonstrate Republicans are attuned to African-American history and suffering. But while we commemorate the past, we move forward to the future. The Democratic Party often takes the Black community for granted, as I saw in my own race where my challenger did not even turn up for the NAACP candidates’ forum. President Obama skipped the NAACP convention as well. Drive home Republican emphasis on school vouchers and how the Democratic Party has caved to the teacher’s unions to put teacher tenure before children’s education. In my campaigning, most African-American parents whom I met strongly supported vouchers, charter schools, and school choice.

6.     Women, women, women, and more women. Destroy the myth that the Republican Party is hostile to women. According to Gallup, the 20-point gender gap in this presidential election set an all-time record. Republicans should stop obsessing on the uteruses of young women and instead pledge to reduce abortion by focusing on the Guttmacher Institute’s data that 85% of all abortions take place outside of marriage. Strengthen marriage, educate men to respect women, and you’ll automatically and significantly reduce the number of abortions. Stop making this a legal battle.

7.    Have more kids. For a party that so strongly opposes abortion, we sure aren’t having enough kids. People believe the Republican Party is the rich people’s party. This is an unfair and inaccurate characterization. But what is certainly true is that while immigrant communities (most of whom vote Democrat) continue to have large families, those who are better off economically have fewer children, statistically. Stop complaining about immigrants. The more Americans the better. But the growth of the indigenous population, of people reared from birth in this great nation, is just as important.

Rabbi Shmuley Boteach

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/columns/america-rabbi-shmuley-boteach/jewish-values-are-the-salvation-of-the-republican-party/2012/11/19/

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