An Indiana Abortion Ruling with Serious Implications for Jews

Turning to the American scene, a state appellate court in Indiana issued a ruling an April 4 that mentioned Jews and Judaism over 70 times. The court decided that, in certain circumstances, Jews can claim a religious right to abortion that overrides state restrictions. Michael A. Helfand explains:

Jewish law’s approach to abortion is generally understood—as much as anything within Jewish law is “generally understood”—to place the well-being of the mother, including physical and emotional well-being, at the center of its analysis. As a result, where an abortion is necessary to protect the well-being of a mother, broadly construed, Jewish law sanctions—and often requires—the termination of the pregnancy. If a mother, motivated by these underlying Jewish values, were to seek an abortion in a state that imposed significant restrictions on such procedures, her religious commitments could run afoul of state law.

Advocacy addressing this tension between Jewish commitments and abortion restrictions is not new. Back in the late 80s and early 90s, Agudath Israel of America, [the more religiously conservative of the two U.S. Orthodox umbrella organizations], filed friend-of-the-court briefs encouraging the Supreme Court to overturn Roe v. Wade. But, prefiguring much of the contemporary debate, it also argued that those religiously motivated to seek abortions—such as American Jews—ought to have religious-liberty protections for such decisions even in the absence of a more general right to abortion.

With an easy-to-follow blueprint now available, last week’s decision may signal that a Jewish right to abortion is no longer merely a theoretical argument.

Read more at JTA

More about: Abortion, American Jewry, Freedom of Religion

Only Hamas’s Defeat Can Pave the Path to Peace

Opponents of the IDF’s campaign in Gaza often appeal to two related arguments: that Hamas is rooted in a set of ideas and thus cannot be defeated militarily, and that the destruction in Gaza only further radicalizes Palestinians, thus increasing the threat to Israel. Rejecting both lines of thinking, Ghaith al-Omar writes:

What makes Hamas and similar militant organizations effective is not their ideologies but their ability to act on them. For Hamas, the sustained capacity to use violence was key to helping it build political power. Back in the 1990s, Hamas’s popularity was at its lowest point, as most Palestinians believed that liberation could be achieved by peaceful and diplomatic means. Its use of violence derailed that concept, but it established Hamas as a political alternative.

Ever since, the use of force and violence has been an integral part of Hamas’s strategy. . . . Indeed, one lesson from October 7 is that while Hamas maintains its military and violent capabilities, it will remain capable of shaping the political reality. To be defeated, Hamas must be denied that. This can only be done through the use of force.

Any illusions that Palestinian and Israeli societies can now trust one another or even develop a level of coexistence anytime soon should be laid to rest. If it can ever be reached, such an outcome is at best a generational endeavor. . . . Hamas triggered war and still insists that it would do it all again given the chance, so it will be hard-pressed to garner a following from Palestinians in Gaza who suffered so horribly for its decision.

Read more at Washington Institute for Near East Policy

More about: Gaza War 2023, Hamas, Israeli-Palestinian Conflict