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Op-Ed: Rabbis Denounce The Texas Heartbeat Act

A pro-choice Abortion Ban Protest rally took place at the state capitol building.
A pro-choice Abortion Ban Protest rally took place at the state capitol building. File photo: Rachel Goodhew,, licensed.

BROOKLYN, NY –  Since the Texas Heartbeat Act has been upheld by the Supreme Court, there has been a backlash of fury from the pro-abortion left. One article that caught my attention is a blog post by Rabbi Rachael Pass: “The abortion I had while a rabbinical student was a sacred choice.” She begins her piece:

“On the second night of Rosh Hashanah, in my second year of rabbinical school, while working at my first-ever High Holiday pulpit, I accidentally conceived.”

The first thing Rabbi Pass remembers is her baby’s conception. That says something about her conscience. Later on, however, she makes her pro-abortion position very clear.

Rabbi Pass spends one paragraph on her chemical abortion, admitting that she “bled all night.” She said nothing about the life she lost or provided any details of what she saw when she bled.

She got the pills from Margaret Sanger Planned Parenthood, now renamed Manhattan Planned Parenthood to disassociate the abortion business from Sanger’s racist background. This particular abortion business has an abysmal record of safety, with multiple medical emergencies requiring women be transported by ambulance to local hospitals.

In the next few paragraphs, Ms. Pass provides a vivid description of her immediate activities in the aftermath of her abortion. She read Jewish books and did a “post-abortion ritual” written by a liberal rabbi. She listened to Jewish songs of forgiveness and immersed herself in a mikveh (a purifying cleansing ritual bath for Jewish women). She went on a field trip with other Jewish women and told them about her abortion.   They wrapped their arms around her in consolation. Rabbi Pass cried.  

For the remainder of her article, Rabbi Pass goes into the usual pro-abortion rhetoric, and defends killing unborn children as a Jewish right. She says that the Texas Heartbeat law “criminalizes care” (yes, the killing of unborn children is now “health care”) and that it violates Jewish law. Ms. Pass provides several rabbis as sources to strengthen her claims:

“What does it mean that the life of the pregnant person comes before that of the fetus? Over the centuries, various rabbinic authorities have offered their answers. It means that her physical needs and pain levels are prioritized over the birthing of the child (Rabbis Josef Trani and Jacob Emden). It means that her mental health is prioritized over the birthing of the child (Rabbi Mordecai Winkler). It means that her dignity and her honor are prioritized over the birthing of the child (Rabbi Ben-Zion Ouziel). It means that the primary consideration in the Jewish question of abortion is the needs of the person giving birth, their life, their health and their dignity.”

These are indefensible reasons for the destruction of unborn children. Rabbis have different opinions and not every religious authority is right. Anyone can distort the meanings of Torah, as many rabbis have done to rationalize the killing of unborn children. Rabbi Pass writes:

“There is nothing more sacred than the right to live one’s life as one chooses – and to choose life, and to choose blessing. In having an abortion, I chose my life.”

She chose to end her child’s life. It takes a certain amount of courage to admit that reality, which Ms. Pass does not do.

I do not know the rabbi or her situation, so I don’t know what she is feeling. When women are this defensive in justifying their abortions, sometimes there is a conscious effort to suppress a negative abortion experience. Usually, one of two things occurs. Either the post-abortive woman turns to the pro-life movement seeking healing and becomes a pro-life advocate, or she is in denial and turns the other way, becoming an extreme advocate for abortion.   

There is a teshuvah-based program, Tikvat Rachel that helps Jewish women and men who are experiencing post-abortion regret to heal.   

Unfortunately, among rabbis in the conservative, reform and reconstructionist movements, Ms. Pass is not the exception. Since her article appeared, other rabbis have attacked the Texas Heartbeat Act. The Rabbinical Assembly denounced the law. This rabbi says he will openly violate the law:

I don’t relish the thought of being sued by some “bounty hunter.” But you know what?  Jews have suffered for the right to practice their religion before, and probably will again. So go ahead, Texas. Come and get me.”

Some medical ethicists present the Jewish view on abortion as “nuanced.” But there is nothing nuanced about what Roe v. Wade and Doe v. Bolton have accomplished. The outcome of these decisions is that we live in a culture that condones death, violence and infanticide. It is legal to kill and experiment on unborn children up to the moment of birth, by dismembering their bodies limb by limb. We would be in jail if we did that to our pets.

Being pro-life is about protecting both the woman and the unborn child. It is about doing no harm. It is about protecting vulnerable and desperate pregnant woman from a predatory abortion industry. Just look at Whole Woman’s Health in Texas. This “abortion care” center employs an abortionist in his eighties who did 67 abortions in 17 hours just before the Heartbeat Act went into effect. If that is not proof that abortion is about profits and not women’s health, then nothing is.

Abortion is not a sacred choice and it never has been. Abortion is not a mitzvah or a blessing. To suggest otherwise is wrong. There is nothing in the Jewish religion that promotes, supports or condones abortion for convenience. There is nothing in the Jewish texts that would excuse 63 million lives lost to abortion. Not Exodus 21:22-25. Not Mishnah Ohalot 7:6. Nothing.  

But there are plenty of Jewish leftists who support the practice.

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