The message reads, at least at first glance, a bit bizarre. In Boynton Beach, Florida, a Jewish community has filed a lawsuit challenging a law banning abortions after the 15th week. This would subject Jewish women to the rules of another faith, the plaintiffs argue, invoking the right to freedom of religion.
Florida’s Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis has already signed the law into law, which is due to go into effect in 14 days, July 1, and does not allow exceptions for pregnancies resulting from rape or incest.
The community “L’Dor Va-Dor” (from generation to generation) complained, which according to its own statement practices “cosmic Judaism”, which according to its own definition means as much as living the Judaism of tomorrow today. Science, tradition and spirituality would be respected. The law prohibits Jewish women from freely practicing their faith, according to the lawsuit filed in Leon County Circuit Court last Friday. Because Judaism puts the protection of the mother’s life ahead of that of an unborn child.
“This law prohibits abortion in cases where our religion allows it,” said Rabbi Danya Ruttenberg of the National Council of Jewish Women. This would subject Jewish women to the ethical rules of another faith. This refers to Catholics and right-wing evangelical Christians.
The lawsuit is explosive because it is expected that the Supreme Court’s 1973 judgment “Roe v. Wade” abortion law is about to be overturned. A corresponding draft judgment by the conservative constitutional judge Sam Alito had become known in advance. The First Amendment to the United States Constitution guarantees freedom of religion and prohibits the establishment of a state religion and the preference or discrimination of particular religions.
The belief that human life, vested with all rights, begins when the egg and seed fuse is actually a bit exotic from a global religion perspective. In Judaism and Islam, the embryo is only considered a human after its 40th day. This goes back to Aristotle, for whom the central criterion was the time of the first movement of the embryo in the womb.
This was also true, with restrictions, in Catholicism up until the 16th century. In 1588, Pope Sixtus V declared abortion and contraception to be mortal sins, because fertilization would bring about an “animation”. Just three years later, however, Pope Gregory XIV reversed everything. Only in 1869 did Pope Pius IX. back to the animation theory.
If the abortion law is now newly regulated on the basis of this right-wing Evangelical-Catholic interpretation of the Bible, will non-believers, less conservative Christians and the followers of other religious communities be patronized? That needs to be clarified now. Because the basic right to an undisturbed practice of religion corresponds to a traditional American understanding of freedom.
An example: In February 2006, the Supreme Constitutional Court made a sensational decision. It was about the case of “Gonzales versus O Centro Espirita Beneficiente Uniao Do Vegetal”. This is a religious community whose rites include drinking hallucinogenic tea. It consists of plants whose active ingredients fall under the Narcotics Act. Freedom of religion versus drug abuse? The Supreme Court ruled unanimously that freedom of religion should be given more weight than the prohibition of drugs.
What are the consequences when human life begins entirely with the fertilization of an egg cell? Some Christian fundamentalists believe that this is why women who smoke, drink alcohol or use drugs during pregnancy should be able to be prosecuted for assault.
In the state of Missouri, on the other hand, proponents of a right to abortion turned the tables: Conservative MPs had managed to ensure that a preamble to all laws states that human life begins with the fertilization of an egg cell. But when some young people complained about being allowed to get their driver’s license nine months earlier, the preamble was not made legally valid.