Convoluted Jewish Arguments in Favor of Abortion Rest on a Misunderstanding of Religious Freedom

The vast majority of American Jews are pro-choice, and this position is generally reflected in the beliefs of the liberal denominations. And while Orthodox rabbis tend to take a restrictive stance on abortion, they too overwhelming permit—and occasionally mandate—the termination of pregnancies in certain extreme circumstances. But some Jewish groups have gone a step further to claim that state or federal prohibitions on abortion violate Jews’ religious freedom. Howard Slugh and Tal Fortgang explain:

A congregation that purports to follow “Cosmic Judaism” filed a lawsuit against Florida. The complaint challenges restrictions on abortion on two grounds. First, that Jewish law sometimes permits or even requires abortions. Second, that supporters of abortion restrictions are sometimes motivated by Christian beliefs. They claim that, for each of those reasons, the statute violates the First Amendment.

While the complaint purports to describe “Jewish law,” this group is, by its own admission, unique in its practices and was founded by a rabbi who rejects “the God of the Bible.” . . . These arguments are not solely the province of fringe sects, [however]. The Reform rabbi Danya Ruttenberg made similar arguments in a recent Atlantic article. . . . Rabbi Ruttenberg’s positions reflect an emergent view within progressive Judaism.

The legal complaint argues that because some people have religious motivations for restricting abortion, the Florida law violates Jews’ rights by “unconstitutionally establishing religion.” Ruttenberg mirrors this claim when she argues that abortion regulations “enshrine specific Christian concepts” into the law and “trample over other understandings of when life begins.”

These arguments are badly misplaced, to put it mildly. There are secular reasons why someone might support abortion regulation.

Read more at National Review

More about: Abortion, American Judaism, Freedom of Religion, U.S. Constitution

Iran’s President May Be Dead. What Next?

At the moment, Hizballah’s superiors in Tehran probably aren’t giving much thought to the militia’s next move. More likely, they are focused on the fact that their country’s president, Ebrahim Raisi, along with the foreign minister, may have been killed in a helicopter crash near the Iran-Azerbaijan border. Iranians set off fireworks to celebrate the possible death of this man known as “butcher of Tehran” for his role in executing dissidents. Shay Khatiri explains what will happen next:

If the president is dead or unable to perform his duties for longer than two months, the first vice-president, the speaker of the parliament, and the chief justice, with the consent of the supreme leader, form a council to choose the succession mechanism. In effect, this means that Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei will decide [how to proceed]. Either a new election is called, or Khamenei will dictate that the council chooses a single person to avoid an election in time of crisis.

Whatever happens next, however, Raisi’s “hard landing” will mark the first chapter in a game of musical chairs that will consume the Islamic Republic for months and will set the stage not only for the post-Raisi era, but the post-Khamenei one as well.

As for the inevitable speculation that Raisi’s death wasn’t an accident: everything I have read so far suggests that it was. Still, that its foremost enemy will be distracted by a succession struggle is good news for Israel. And it wouldn’t be terrible if Iran’s leaders suspect that the Mossad just might have taken out Raisi. For all their rhetoric about martyrdom, I doubt they relish the prospect of becoming martyrs themselves.

Read more at Middle East Forum

More about: Ali Khamenei, Iran, Mossad