Mike the Mad Biologist

Why Does the South Dakota Legislature Hate Jews?

In the November general election, South Dakota will have a referendum that could overturn its law that bans abortions, even where the woman has been raped, is the victim of incest, would suffer long-term medical problems, or would be unable to have future children. The first of the political ads are running, so I thought this post would be appropriate (and certainly in the style my readers have come to expect….). From the archives:

Well, that got your attention, didn’t it?

Of course, I realize that it’s utterly inappropriate to introduce religion into the abortion debate.

(Thankfully, South Dakotans appear to be much smarter than their elected officials.)

As you probably have heard by now, the South Dakotan legislative solons have decreed that the only legal abortions allowed in that state are those that prevent the death of the mother. Not the health of the mother, or her ability to have additional children. If childbirth were to result in a stroke or brain damage, you still couldn’t have an abortion. If childbirth were to make it impossible a woman to have any more children, too bad.

When it comes to the excesses of the Christian Republicans, I’m tired of reading off the Tinkerbell script. What the South Dakota lege has done is immoral, and an infringement on the religious freedoms of others. The South Dakota forced childbirth law that means a Jewish woman (even one just passing through who needed medical care) would have to violate Jewish religious law.

Regarding abortion, there is no debate in Jewish law whatsoever on one point: if carrying a pregnancy to term would harm the physical welfare–not the life, the welfare–of the mother, or her ability to bear future children, the fetus is termed a “pursuer” (rodef). In other words, if a pregnancy were carried to term and would cause long-term damage to the woman, the fetus is the moral equivalent of a criminal chasing after her with the intent to do harm. It is not a blessed little ‘snowflake.’ Under these circumstances, the moral option is to terminate the pregnancy.

Regarding the title of this post, I’m not backing away from it. The state of South Dakota has made a decision that makes living a Jewish life incompatible with following the law of the land. So much for the vaunted ‘Judeo-Christian’ tradition that conservatives keep blathering about. It’s clear that the ‘Judeo’ part was nothing more than a fig leaf to mask the ‘religious’ right’s bigotry–although how this wasn’t obvious from the get-go escapes me. For any conservative Christians reading this, you are not the ‘oppressed’, you are the oppressors. Stop with your ‘Daniel in the lion’s den’ complex

And to Jewish Republicans: you were warned this madness would happen. If the South Dakota forced child birth law is not found unconstitutional, it will be passed in other states. Did your parents and grandparents come to this country so their children and grandchildren would be forced to live according to the dictates of Christian zealots? Did you learn nothing from 1,500 years of history? Shame on you.

an aside: I hope someone out there is preparing an amicus brief based on the separation of church and state. Yes, it’s like nailing Al Capone on income taxes, but take it where you can get it.

Comments

  1. #1 J-Dog
    September 21, 2006

    Nothing wrong with nailing Capone for income tax evasion.. he was a criminal after all. IMO, the way to deal with South Dakota is to move them all down to the Real South, somewhere around Alabama or MI… Their red nceks won’t stick out quite as much that way. If I can quote from a great American, I believe Cris Rock said it best, “Cracker ass crackers”.

  2. #2 Free Operant
    September 22, 2006

    A nice post, Mike. It’s important to teach others that Judaism is more than just Christianity without Jesus.

    Have a happy new year.

  3. #3 E. Goldstein
    September 22, 2006

    “The fetus is the moral equivalent of a criminal chasing after her with the intent to do harm”.

    Your ignorant lying here is nauseauting.

    The fetus didn’t ask her to create it. And it has no consiousness, right? So how could it have an “intent”, equivalent or other wise?

    And the state of S.D. had made a law making it impossible to live a Jewish life following the laws of the land?

    Leaving aside the question of what “leading a Jewish life” is (according to which Jewish leader?) you obviously have no problem with making laws that make it impossible to lead a “Christian” life following the laws of the land.

    I agree that the health of the mother is determinative here, but your analgogy is stupid AND dishonest.

    Go bellyache at Kansas Citizens for Science if you think someone is picking on Jews…some of the posts are arguing for the ending of support to Israel.

    What the hell does that have to do with “science” education in Kansas?

  4. #4 Louis
    September 22, 2006

    Science education in Kansas? Sounds a bit like an oxymoron to me. Intent, in legal parlance, can have the meaning as applied above.

    Also, leading a Christian life is not hindered, just live it. Don’t want an abortion, then don’t get one. Where the Christians get off base (and why separation of Church and State is critical) is that “they” believe they have a “God given right” to shove their opinions and lifestyles upon us diests, muslims, jews, etc, etc.

    Roe v. Wade was the perfect solution. It said basically that during the 1st trimester pregnancy is a matter of private concern, after that the State can bring in compelling arguments to stop an abortion.

    So long as there are religious whackos, the rest of us have to tolerate their intolerance. This ain’t going away anytime soon but I do hope the good citizens of South Dakota strike down this barbaric law which is absolutely unconstitutional on its face.

    However, keep in mind, we are 1 (one) Supreme Court Justice away from overturning Roe v. Wade. Time is running out if we do not turn Washington around in November.

    And let’s not forget the 299,987 frozen embryos (which could be used for research) will be heading for the municipal landfill soon. I guess this is what the GOP calls “compassionate conservatism.” Throw in capital punishement while you’re at it. Disregarding that 1 in 15 are innocent, mostly minorities, etc, etc, isn’t the state sponsored killing of a convicted criminal an act of “vengence”? I thought that was in God’s domain.

  5. #5 Dan R.
    September 22, 2006

    Goldstein,

    I refer you http://www.aish.com/societyWork/sciencenature/Abortion_in_Jewish_Law.asp for a thorough discussion of the Orthdox Judaism take on abortion — but in general, what Mike said in his post holds (orthdox require life threatening not merely health — but include psychiatric and chronic illnesses which could cause loss of life due to a full term pregnancy). They consider the fetus a pursuer and an agressor.

    This opinion is well documented in the Talmud, and I have heard of no credible Jewish authority disagree with the general premise (disagrement about the degree is a different issue). More liberal branches acknoledge the opinion as a valid interpretation of Talmud, but don’t value the Talmud the same as binding.

  6. #6 Stogoe
    September 22, 2006

    Please, don’t try to reason with Legion. I get the feeling that, like Miss Coulter, even he doesn’t believe his lies. He just spews the most outrageous thing possible out so he can get attention.

  7. #7 Grumpy Old Man
    November 3, 2009

    Wow! Just wow. Mike thank you for the post/treatise on law and religion and abortion – what a revelation this look at Jewish law is.

    Thanks

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