The American Right Needs to Look Beyond the Legal Status of Abortion to the Restoration of Sexual Ethics

March 7, 2022 | Rafi Eis
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For half a century, a pillar of the conservative social agenda in the U.S. has been the quest to overturn Roe v. Wade and thus protect nascent human life. As conservatives now have some reason to hope they can achieve this end, Rafi Eis urges them to look beyond the narrow question of the legality of abortion, to the much larger question of how to restore long-held ideas about sexuality and family life, and thereby to reduce demand for abortions. Eis urges conservative Christians in particular to look to the ways Orthodox Jews have preserved traditional sexual morality:

Since it’s likely that women will still seek to terminate pregnancies after [a reversal of] Roe, a more fundamental cultural change is needed to end abortion. The Bible offers a profoundly wise resource in thinking about sex. . . . Sexual virtue features prominently in Genesis. The book devotes fifteen stories to the morality of sex, and its clear message is that sexual virtue is to be praised while undisciplined sexuality is ruinous and can even destroy society. . . . Further, Genesis promotes marriage and procreation as central to the human condition, and these are some of the first principles found in the Bible. At creation, the Bible charges man “to be fruitful and multiply,” and in the next chapter it asserts that “it is not good for man to be alone,” which directly leads to the mandate that a man should “cling to his wife, so that they become one flesh.” As Abraham’s descendants grow from a family into a nation, the emphasis on family remains.

No matter how often liberals and progressives reduce sex to consent and pleasure, human nature is otherwise. And we are suffering deeply from changing our moral norms. . . . Without the commitment of marriage, the subsequent heartbreak, abandonment, and betrayal hurt us and make us more suspicious, jaded, on guard, and frustrated.

The Orthodox Jewish community succeeds in preventing abortions even where it is legal by embracing the Bible’s teachings on abstinence. The largest Orthodox communities happen to be located in the abortion-permissive states of New York, New Jersey, and California, giving Orthodox Jewish women vast abortion freedom. But it is very uncommon for Orthodox women to seek elective abortions to rid themselves of an inconvenient pregnancy.

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