June 24th, 2022

In Jewish law, a fetus attains the status of a full person only at birth. Sources in the Talmud indicate that prior to 40 days of gestation, the fetus has an even more limited legal status, with one Talmudic authority (Yevamot 69b) asserting that prior to 40 days the fetus is “mere water.” Elsewhere, the Talmud indicates that the ancient rabbis regarded a fetus as part of its mother throughout the pregnancy, dependent fully on her for its life — a view that echoes the position that women should be free to make decisions concerning their own bodies.

The belief that abortion is “murder” is generally not one shared by scientists. So I think it’s reasonable to conclude that the opposition to abortion springs predominantly from a religious (read: Christian) perspective. Given this, how do we square today’s decision with the views of one of the chief authors of the Constitution, James Madison, whose belief that religion had no role in law or government was so absolute that he was appalled at the idea of Congress having a Chaplin? How does it align with the author of the Declaration of Independence, Thomas Jefferson, who wrote there would always be a “wall” between Church and State?

More crucially, how does this not violate the First Amendment? If a tenet of one faith at odds with that of another is codified into law, it is hard to make a sincere argument that there is true freedom of religion.

Before the Constitution, religiously based laws were commonplace. You could not hold a political office in New York if you were Catholic. In Maryland, you HAD to be Catholic to hold political office. One of the driving forces behind the Constitution was to eliminate the divisiveness of religion in public life once and for all. Today’s decision is clearly at odds with that aim. Ironically, the justices who overturned this precept view themselves as strict constructionists.

Published by Jack Canfora

I'm an award winning and losing playwright and screenwriter; I'm a dad of two great kids, an aggressive spoiler of dogs, and hopelessly addicted to baseball and The Beatles. I have no recollection of ever having worn a mullet, yet photos in the 80's say otherwise.

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