Wednesday, March 31, 2004

Halakhic Values and Fetuses

I try to avoid talking politics in this blog (though my policy may be subject to change in the future), but I was struck how something has missed the Jewish scene.
Last week Congress passed a law making it a Federal crime to kill fetuses. Not abortion (which was explicitly excluded from the law), but if one hurts a pregnant woman, there is a separate crimes to kill her baby.

Now clearly this is meant as a minor skirmish in the abortion debate, but this law reminded me of something. Like a Pasuk in Parshat/s Mishpatim about how killing a fetus is only a civil and not a criminal offense. This idea is backed up in several places in the Gemara.

I am not writing about this to make a pro- or anti- abortion statement, but wouldn't Jewish values require us to protest this law as a clear violations of the Jewish values which should inform every Orthodox Jewish organization's policy. But I have not heard a peep from anyone across the spectrum of the Jewish community. (To be honest, I am not an avid follower of Jewish public policy, except where it interests me.)

Now, of course I am blogging this to make a point. If we were to take the idea of "Jewish values" seriously, and using Halakha to inform our public policy decisions we should come out strongly against this law. However, noone will; at least not as a statement of halakhic principle. Which makes me question how much Orthodox Jewish organizations really use halakha to inform their decision-making.

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