Jewish Groups Oppose Bill to Ban All Abortions After an Unborn Baby’s Heartbeat Begins

National   |   Erin Parfet   |   Dec 13, 2016   |   10:35AM   |   Columbus, Ohio

The Jewish Federation of Cleveland is urging the local Jewish community to contact Ohio Gov. John Kasich and urge him to veto a bill that would ban almost all abortions after an unborn baby’s heart begins to beat, the Cleveland Jewish News reports.

The Ohio state legislature recently gave final approve to legislation that would ban all abortions after an unborn baby’s heart begins to beat. The Ohio House and Senate also approved the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act (S.B. 127), landmark legislation which poses a historic challenge to Roe v. Wade. The bills now head to the desk of Governor John Kasich who has signed 17 Ohio Right to Life-supported measures since 2011.

The unborn pain legislation would prohibit abortions at the time in pregnancy that a child can feel pain, or 20 weeks gestation, challenging the 24-week “viability” limitation set in Roe. Since 2010, 15 states have passed similar legislation, and pro-life leaders in Congress have attempted to pass a federal version.

In Ohio, 478 abortions occurred after 19 weeks gestation in 2015 alone. The legislation is sponsored by Senators Peggy Lehner (R-Kettering) and Jay Hottinger (R-Newark).

Several Jewish groups in Ohio came out in opposition of the heartbeat bill this week.

“This bill imposes excessive restrictions that would strictly limit a woman’s right to obtain an abortion, even under circumstances resulting from mental health, and improperly ignores religious concerns. It takes medical decisions out of the hands of doctors by criminalizing those medical practitioners who perform procedures outside the narrow prescriptions of the bill,” the Jewish Federation of Cleveland said in a statement.

The group said they believe the bill infringes on “religious rights.”

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The concerns of some Jewish groups seems to be protecting religious and individual liberties, as well as women’s health, citing that some women may not know they are pregnant until after six weeks, which is when the Heartbeat bill would ban abortions.

Despite the Sixth Commandment in the Torah forbidding murder, and sensitivity Jews have toward the mass murder of their people and children in the Holocaust, 49 percent of American Jews support abortion in all cases, and 44 percent support abortion in most cases, according to the Public Religion Research Institution’s 2012 report. Furthermore, of the 93 percent of American Jews open to abortion in some circumstances, 95 percent of Jewish Democrats and 77 percent of Jewish Republicans support abortion in nearly all circumstances, according to the poll.

A Gallup poll suggests that Jewish views on abortion do not differ significantly from those with no religious affiliations. There are those in Jewish culture who jokingly state that life doesn’t start until graduation from medical or law school.

Yet there are pro-life Jewish groups that hold to traditional scriptural teachings about the value of the unborn.

“We believe that it is imperative to value all innocent human life-born and unborn-abled and disabled-perfect or imperfect – and that justifying abortion for Down’s Syndrome, Tay Sach’s, or other genetic abnormalities not only damages the birth parents but also eventually leads to justifying gross, legalized civil rights abuses against ‘undesirable’ minorities. We believe that elective abortion on demand contradicts the very essence of Judaism. We believe that abortion is dangerous and harmful to women, to Judaism, and to the Jewish community,” the Jewish Pro-Life Foundation states.

“The unborn child at 6 weeks has a beating heart and is therefore alive,” Cecily Routman, founder of the Jewish Pro-Life Foundation stated in an email. “It is a clear benchmark, and makes unnecessary the more scientific explanations of proof of life before that milestone is reached.”