Not Only Catholics Should Oppose a Court-Ordered Abortion in Britain

On Friday, a British judge ordered doctors to perform, against her will, an abortion on a Catholic woman who suffers from severe developmental disabilities. The woman’s own mother has strenuously opposed the ruling, and insisted that she will raise the child herself, but to no avail, and the case has received much attention in Catholic circles. To Harold Braswell, a Jew and himself the child of a mentally disabled woman, all people of good conscience should be horrified by the callousness and cruelty of the judge’s decision:

Attending medical doctors have judged that her giving birth and eventually having the child removed from her custody would be extremely traumatic because of her intellectual disabilities. Based on this assessment, the judge has ruled that it is in the woman’s “best interests” that the pregnancy be terminated.

My own birth was difficult, perhaps even traumatic, for my mother. . . . Ultimately, I was removed from my mother’s custody, but instead of being given up for adoption, I was taken in by her mother, my maternal grandmother. But though my mother did not raise me herself, she remained, always, my mom. She visited me monthly, sending, almost every week, postcards and gifts. These visits, postcards, and gifts were, at times, confusing for me, even unwelcome. But not always, and, over time, I came to appreciate them and also her. We developed a strong relationship, and, on becoming an adult, it was I who began visiting her, and sending her my own postcards and gifts.

[The British court’s] ruling should be recognized as evil by anyone. It is baldly “anti-choice,” and fails even the thinnest liberal commitments of opposing bigotry and protecting minorities. It shows an utter lack of creativity, a disturbing closure to the dynamism of life, an unwillingness to accommodate [human] difference even minimally.

As a secular Jew at a Catholic university, . . . I [have come to] appreciate many Catholics and, in a way, Catholicism itself. In a society that, too often, undervalues disabled people—making their very status as “persons” a topic for debate—Catholics have consistently advocated for the intrinsic worth of their lives. I may not agree with the theological presuppositions based on which they do so. But I am grateful nonetheless. It is my hope, however, that this does not remain “just” a Catholic issue, that there is a broad public outcry both in England and internationally, and that the decision is reversed.

Read more at Tablet

More about: Abortion, Catholic Church, Freedom, United Kingdom

What Israel Can Achieve in Gaza, the Fate of the Hostages, and Planning for the Day After

In a comprehensive analysis, Azar Gat concludes that Israel’s prosecution of the war has so far been successful, and preferable to the alternatives proposed by some knowledgeable critics. (For a different view, see this article by Lazar Berman.) But even if the IDF is coming closer to destroying Hamas, is it any closer to freeing the remaining hostages? Gat writes:

Hamas’s basic demand in return for the release of all the hostages—made clear well before it was declared publicly—is an end to the war and not a ceasefire. This includes the withdrawal of the IDF from the Gaza Strip, restoration of Hamas’s control over it (including international guarantees), and a prisoner exchange on the basis of “all for all.”

Some will say that there must be a middle ground between Hamas’s demands and what Israel can accept. However, Hamas’s main interest is to ensure its survival and continued rule, and it will not let go of its key bargaining chip. Some say that without the return of the hostages—“at any price”—no victory is possible. While this sentiment is understandable, the alternative would be a resounding national defeat. The utmost efforts must be made to rescue as many hostages as possible, and Israel should be ready to pay a heavy price for this goal; but Israel’s capitulation is not an option.

Beyond the great cost in human life that Israel will pay over time for such a deal, Hamas will return to rule the Gaza Strip, repairing its infrastructure of tunnels and rockets, filling its ranks with new recruits, and restoring its defensive and offensive arrays. This poses a critical question for those suggesting that it will be possible to restart the war at a later stage: have they fully considered the human toll should the IDF attempt to reoccupy the areas it would have vacated in the Gaza Strip?

Although Gat is sanguine about the prospects of the current campaign, he throws some cold water on those who hope for an absolute victory:

Militarily, it is possible to destroy Hamas’s command, military units, and infrastructure as a semi-regular military organization. . . . After their destruction in high-intensity fighting, the IDF must prevent Hamas from reviving by continuous action on the ground. As in the West Bank, this project will take years. . . . What the IDF is unlikely to achieve is the elimination of Hamas as a guerrilla force.

Lastly, Gat has some wise words about what will happen to Gaza after the war ends, a subject that has been getting renewed attention since Benjamin Netanyahu presented an outline of a plan to the war cabinet on Thursday. Gat argues that, contrary to the view of the American and European foreign-policy elite, there is no political solution for Gaza. After all, Gaza is in the Middle East, where “there are no solutions, . . . only bad options and options that are much worse.”

Read more at Institute for National Security Studies

More about: Gaza Strip, Gaza War 2023, Israeli Security