Jewish Groups Back National Pro-Abortion March

National   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Nov 13, 2003   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Jewish Groups Back National Pro-Abortion March

by Steven Ertelt Editor
November 13, 2003

Washington, DC ( — Although sacred Jewish texts and traditions oppose abortion, most American Jewish groups have long supported the practice and pro-abortion lawmakers. It should come as no surprise to some, then, that leading Jewish organizations have announced they are co-sponsoring next years’ pro-abrotion march.

The march for abortion is planned for April 25, 2004 and is being organized by NARAL, the Feminist Majority Foundation, NOW, and Planned Parenthood. A expose in August revealed that the AFSCME labor union is also organizing the event.

Now, pro-abortion Jewish groups have offered to lend support.

The Union for Reform Judaism and its Washington-based Religious Action Center for Reform Judaism have agreed to be co-sponsors, as have the American Jewish Congress’s commission for women’s equality and Hadassah. The Anti-Defamation League supports the pro-abortion march, but has not yet decided if it will join as a co-sponsor an ADL spokeswoman said.

Nancy Kipnis, vice president of the National Council of Jewish Women said her group will also help organize the march.

"The strength of the April march in Washington will be in its numbers. The numbers will have to send a very strong message," Kipnis told Foreward magazine.

She said the march will be important to show strong opposition to pro-life President George W. Bush

"For us, it’s a matter of freedom — personal and religious freedom. There is a lot on the line, and we can’t leave it all to elections. It’s the grassroots activism that occurs between elections that influences policy."

Meanwhile, NARAL President Kate Michelman attended the Union for Reform Judaism’s biennial convention in Minneapolis last week.

She told convention-goers, "We are counting on groups like this — activists
like you — to pack the buses and come to Washington" for the pro-abortion march.

However, according to pro-life Jews, most American Jewish groups are out of step with religious teaching on abortion.

Rabbi Barry Freundel, a widely respected Jewish leader, said that, according to the Mishnah, which is a record of oral interpretations of the Hebrew Scriptures, abortion is only permitted when a woman is in "hard travail" and her life is in danger.

He said the instances where a pregnancy poses a serious threat to the mother are very rare — so Jews should oppose most abortions.

Not even in the most lenient interpretations, Rabbi Freundel told a group at a National Right to Life convention, is there anything that allows abortion on demand.

Freundel has worked with other pro-life Jewish leaders to organize efforts to oppose abortion.

Before Congress gave final approval to the partial-birth abortion ban, he obtained more than 200 signatures of rabbis from Reform, Conservative, and Orthodox traditions on a statement supporting the pro-life bill.

Freundel is currently vice president and Ethics Committee Chairman of the Rabbinical Council of America. He is an adjunct professor at American University, University of Maryland, Georgetown University, and Yeshiva University.