Over at FindLaw, Cornell law professor Sherry Colb has a column inspired by a recent call by Israel’s two chief rabbis for their colleagues to preach against abortion. Her aim is to make clear how different Jewish law on abortion is from Catholic (and evangelical Protestant) doctrine, even as both differ from secular U.S. and Israeli law. Briefly, the rabbis hold that abortion is a bad thing (except if the mother’s life is threatened, when it is mandatory), but that it is permissible under a variety of circumstances, and that it is not murder. Rather, they consider the fetus to be potential life, worth more than mere property but not a living person until most of it has emerged from the womb.
Colb demonstrates that when it comes Judeo-Christian tradition
teachings on abortion, current American law is much more closely
aligned with the traditional “Judeo” side than the conservative Christian
one. In this regard, it would have been interesting if, in response to Rick Warren’s question, “[A]t what point does a baby get human rights, in your view?”, Barack Obama had answered, “Well, religiously my view is closest to the Orthodox Jewish position, which is that a baby gets human rights at birth.” Maybe some pro-choice politicians should try that one out.