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Some Jewish groups blast the end of Roe as a violation of their religious beliefs

A protester carries a sign as they attend the "Jewish Rally for Abortion Justice" rally at Union Square near the U.S. Capitol on May 17.
Anna Moneymaker
Getty Images
A protester carries a sign as they attend the "Jewish Rally for Abortion Justice" rally at Union Square near the U.S. Capitol on May 17.

While some have celebrated justices' decision striking down Roe v. Wade as a win for religious freedom, some religious Jews say prohibitions on abortion violate their religious beliefs.

Interpretations vary across Judaism, but some religious Jews believe that a fetus is part of the parent's body and that a baby is only considered a person once it takes its first breath.

According to the Women's Rabbinic Network, some of the religion's most sacred texts view a fetus as a soul only once it's born.

"Therefore, forcing someone to carry a pregnancy that they do not want or that endangers their life is a violation of Jewish law because it prioritizes a fetus over the living adult who is pregnant," the group said in a statement.

"This must be understood as a violation of the United States Constitution which guarantees our freedom to practice our religion and also our freedom from the dictates of other religions," it added.

A number of Jewish organizations blasted the opinion, arguing that it would lead to religious violations against Jews.

"Jewish tradition prioritizes the safety of women carrying a child," the American Jewish Committee said in a statement. "Overturning abortion access, as numerous states already have, denies individuals health care options consistent with their religious beliefs, including many in the Jewish community, thereby presenting issues of religious freedom and privacy."

At least one Jewish group has sued to block new restrictions on abortion citing religious objections. The Congregation L'Dor Va-Dor of Boynton Beach sued Florida over its ban on abortions after 15 weeks, arguing that it imposes "the laws of other religions upon Jews."

But some more conservative factions in Judaism, such as the Orthodox group Agudath Israel of America, welcomed the Supreme Court's opinion: "We pray that today's ruling will inspire all Americans to appreciate the moral magnitude of the abortion issue, and to embrace a culture that celebrates life."

Copyright 2022 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Joe Hernandez
[Copyright 2024 NPR]
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