A Texas rabbi who is heavily involved in abortion advocacy argued this week that it is a “religious right” to kill an unborn baby in an abortion.
Rabbi Joshua R. S. Fixler of Congregation Emanu El in Houston did not mention killing or babies in his column at the Houston Chronicle, even though the purpose of an abortion is to kill a unique, living human being, the woman’s own child.
Instead, Fixler described an abortion as “health care” and “sacred” and argued that it should be recognized as a “religious right.”
“As a participant in the Rabbis for Repro initiative and president of the Faith Leader’s Coalition of Greater Houston, I advocate for the protection of all people of faith in Houston to practice their religions freely,” he wrote.
“Any law that limits a person’s ability to access abortion or reproductive health services limits their ability to practice their faith, and thus violates the First Amendment’s protections of separation of church and state,” Fixler continued.
He shared a story about his grandmother’s abortion in the 1950s before abortions were legal in the U.S. Fixler said his grandmother contracted the measles while pregnant, and her doctor advised and later arranged for to have an abortion at a local hospital.
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He said she shared about her abortion openly, and he feels obliged to share her story, too.
“ … too many have been forced to feel a sense of shame over their decision to end a pregnancy and told almost no one,” Fixler wrote. “I truly believe that when we can affirm these stories as natural, human, love-filled experiences, we can begin to transform our lives as we work to build a city, state and country that demonstrates the values of liberty and justice for all.”
But killing an unborn child (in this case, Fixler’s aunt or uncle) is not a “love-filled” experience – as many post-abortive women will attest to. Abortions are violent, destructive procedures that violate the most basic of all human rights, the right to life. People of all faiths and no faith recognize this as truth, believing through religious teachings, scientific facts, logic and morality that intentionally killing another innocent human being is wrong.
Fixler, however, argued that his support for abortion is rooted in his faith.
“Judaism not only permits abortion, but even requires it when life is at stake. As a rabbi in the Reform Jewish movement, I also preach that our power and responsibility to make ethical choices is a gift from God,” he asserted. “Moreover, building a just society is ultimately a Jewish concern. We must not remain quiet while barriers to health care place any individual’s health, well-being, autonomy or economic security at risk.”
By this reasoning, Fixler appears to support abortion on demand (killing unborn babies for any reason without restriction), but other Jewish rabbis have condemned abortion as evil.
Last year in a column at Newsweek, Rabbi Yaakov Menken said Judaism teaches that every human life is valuable, born and unborn. He said Judaism is “unambiguously” and “emphatically” pro-life.
Menken, the managing director of the Coalition for Jewish Values, highlighted how from ancient to modern times, Jewish legal authorities have taught that abortions are a form of murder and scriptures teach that unborn babies are valuable.
Like Fixler, Menken acknowledged that the only time Jewish law allows abortions is when the mother’s life is at risk. According to the Mishnah, abortions are required when the unborn baby endangers the mother’s life “because her life precedes” the unborn baby’s.
But abortions to save the mother’s life are extremely rare, and, as Menken emphasized, the teaching makes it very clear that “a fetal life is indeed a life” and an abortion even when necessary to save a life is a tragedy, not a “choice.”