If you are anywhere near my age, i.e. ancient, you will recall one of the most notorious and heinous crimes committed in America. In August of 1969, a visibly expectant actress named Sharon Tate was brutally murdered by a vicious cult leader named Charles Manson. Manson died in prison in 2017 – too long on this earth for him, if you ask me. Naturally, the murder of any human being is horrible. But when we find that the victim was expecting a child, the tragedy is compounded. The country was rendered numb by this unspeakable crime. The thought kept on haunting us. A bloody crime indeed, but how could he possibly do that to a woman carrying an innocent child??
Think about it. This was a murder. But not your garden-variety, crazed killing. Everyone then was doubly focused on the horror of the crime because of the disposition of the victim. People inherently understood then, as they really do now, that a woman carrying a fetus is blessed to be nurturing a growing little human being. Hence, the intensity of the crime is increased when the victim is “carrying.”
This is not only true of a crime, but even in, say, a car accident. If the victim is, G-d forbid, an expectant mother, people are all the more shocked. It is human instinct to feel that way.
We live now in a very “progressive” society. That means anything goes. Free medical care for everyone – even illegals – free definition of gender, free to use the restroom of your choice, free to marry whomever – free everything. And it is going more and more in that direction. Now New York State has passed the “Reproductive Healthcare Act.” Like everything else these days, it’s a euphemism. This act has taken the penal aspect out of performing abortions right through the point of birth, and has been coded as a healthcare issue. It’s not a big deal now to terminate a pregnancy if the mother has some sort of health concern – real or imagined. The unborn child is disposable.
The progressives argue that it is a woman’s right to control her body. In other words, if she has an unsightly wart, she goes to her dermatologist and has it removed. It is now the same with terminating the little human being she is carrying because she finds it bothersome. Fetus equals wart.
If a woman dies in a car crash, will the reports say she recently gained weight? Obviously not. It is not relevant to the story. So why do they mention that she was expecting? Big deal – it’s just an appendage that the mother can decide to discard at will. Why is it relevant to the story?
Remember the recent terror incident in Israel in which an expectant mother was shot in the torso by a Palestinian terrorist? Remember the valiant efforts made by the doctors to save the little unborn boy’s life? Remember the thousands of Jews who came to the baby’s funeral? Remember those incredibly moving words from the brave parents at the time?
The human instinct knows that a fetus equals a human being in development. Yet, the same “progressives” who argue against capital punishment, even for the most heinous of crimes, on the grounds that the state has no right to take any human life, are the same ones who push for the state to take the life of the most innocent of all – the unborn child. Go figure. I can’t.
Now I know that many of you are thinking that this is easy for me, a man, to be so quick to dismiss abortion. I will never have to deal with pregnancy on a personal level. True enough. But I still have a right, a duty, to point out how our society has reached a level of a totally perverted sense of values. The guilty are treated royally while the innocent are terminated. Sodom-like thinking.
The Torah (B’reishis 9:6) states, “He who spills the blood of man in a man, his blood shall be spilled.” The Rabbis (Talmud, Sanhedrin 57b) understand this to refer to the human inside a human, i.e., the fetus. Yet the same Rabbis rule, unlike some other religions, that the life of the mother remains of paramount concern. If there is a genuine fear for the mother’s life, physically or emotionally, due to the fetus, then an abortion is not just allowed but required – under proper halachic guidance. Halachah is absolutely understanding of the mother’s well-being, but there must be a balance in navigating the sanctity of one life versus another. It’s not a free-for-all.
I once heard that Rav Yaakov Kamenetsky zt”l was asked about the Jewish approach to abortion. He said that in his town of Tzitavyan in pre-war Europe, where he served as rabbi, a Jewish man was framed for a murder that he definitely did not commit. The accusers were reputable, and the man’s fate seemed doomed. It was almost impossible for him to refute the accusers and their concocted facts. Finally, the man turned to the judge and said, “Your Honor, if you check the entire history of Tzitavyan, you will find that there was never a case where a Jew was accused of murder.” The judge ordered the town’s archives be reviewed and indeed no Jew had ever been accused of murder. On that basis, the judge acquitted the Jew. Rav Yaakov said that Jews in their nature abhor the taking of human life and sanctify the concept of life. It’s in our DNA. This starts with the precious value we give to human life right from its very beginnings.
This perversion of thought, of upside-down values being promoted by the left today, leads to scary ends. A few decades ago, Judge Robert Bork was nominated to the Supreme Court by President Ronald Reagan. By all accounts, he was brilliant, although controversial. Leading the charge against him was Senator Ted Kennedy, who said that if Bork becomes a Supreme Court justice, we will have a slippery slope leading women to being forced into having “back-alley abortions.” So look what we have instead: a slippery slope that leads to the demise of countless little babies, all sanctioned by our state and its governor.
Scarier yet is the fact that this craziness can affect the normal thought process in all matters. This is something that, as Jews, we must be very concerned about. Already the champions of the Left are accusing Israel of wholesale terror. With impunity, they refer to Israel as a racist state. Some of their elected officials spew their anti-Israel and anti-Jewish hatred and are not only not reprimanded but are promoted. Slippery slope, indeed.
I must conclude by thanking our State Senator Joe Addabbo for voting against this bill. I have spoken to other politicians who explained to me their “Yes” vote, and from a political standpoint their position may have credibility. But Joe has to be commended for his brave vote. According to an article in the Wall Street Journal, he will likely face the wrath of some of his political colleagues, as well as some constituents. He will need our support. Let’s make sure he gets it.
Rabbi Yoel Schonfeld is the Rabbi of the Young Israel of Kew Gardens Hills, Vice President of the Coalition for Jewish Values, former President of the Vaad Harabonim of Queens, and the Rabbinic Consultant for the Queens Jewish Link.