The overturning of Roe v. Wade is, to Rabbi Avi Shafran—who serves as director of public affairs for the ḥaredi Agudath Israel of America—justified on constitutional, political, religious, and moral grounds. Yet he also worries about the possible adverse effects, especially for Jews, of such a decision:
[L]eaving each state’s voters to balance respect for personal freedom with respect for nascent life, as a reversal of Roe would do, strikes me as reasonable, while the howls of outrage at that scenario strike me as overwrought. There are two important and conflicting concerns to be weighed against one another here, and the weighing isn’t accomplished by chants and placards.
At the same time that I will heartily welcome a reversal of Roe, should the draft opinion be adopted by the court when its decision is handed down later this term, I have concerns about what might follow—such as legislative proposals that would afford a fetus full rights as a person or that outlaw abortion without exception.
There are cases in which the option of abortion does need to be available—like when a pregnancy’s progression threatens the life of the potential mother. Jewish law permits, in fact requires, abortion in such cases, and the vast majority of Americans are of similar mind. There are also pregnancies in which the fetus has genetic abnormalities or will face a fatal disease after birth. Some Jewish sources consider that a circumstance in which a woman might also be sanctioned to undergo an abortion.
Roe was a sledgehammer, and wrongly wielded. In the wake of its reversal, citizens in each state would be charged with using a scalpel to instead craft laws that treat nascent life with respect while accommodating the protection of women’s well-being.