Hope this works. For obvious reasons, I’m not terribly optimistic. But it’s worth a shot.
The rabbi whose progressive synagogue sued the state of Florida over a bill that would ban abortions after 15 weeks, arguing that it infringes on religious liberty, has created an initiative to help other faith organizations — and atheists — push back against anti-abortion legislation across the U.S.
Rabbi Barry Silver’s initiative, Helping Emancipate Abortion Rights Today (HEART), seeks to “restore abortion rights in a post-Roe v. Wade world” and defy the “theocratic tyranny” of laws that clash with the Jewish belief that abortion is a basic right and life begins at birth, not conception, he said in a phone interview Tuesday.
The initiative is designed to be able to allow any person of any belief system to challenge the anti-abortion laws on religious grounds,” Silver said. “It’s the height of chutzpah for people to tell the Jewish people what the Bible means and lecture the Jewish people on the sanctity of life.”
Silver’s synagogue, Congregation L’Dor Va-Dor, sued this month challenging Florida’s anti-abortion law, which is scheduled to take effect Friday. In the Jewish legal tradition, the suit says, “abortion is required if necessary to protect the health, mental or physical well-being of the woman.”
Silver said HEART will allow religious and atheist leaders in other states to essentially copy the text of his lawsuit, editing it as needed to fit the specifics of their communities and state laws. HEART will also be on hand to advise anyone who is interested in fighting anti-abortion bills on religious freedom grounds.
In the eyes of many Jewish leaders, anti-abortion laws are particularly distressing because they contradict Jewish halakha — the laws drawn from the Torah, the Mishnah and the Talmud, the most sacred and authoritative texts in the tradition — according to Rabbi Ed Feinstein of Valley Beth Shalom synagogue in Los Angeles.
This story was from a couple of weeks ago, and I haven’t seen any further news for it. Court cases take their time. It’s easy to find all kinds of massive logic holes in the Dobbs decision and I certainly appreciate the efforts to expose and try to exploit them, but let’s keep our expectations in check. There is likely rhetorical value in this exercise, and hopefully some political and electoral value, but we are not going to get this lawless and arbitrary Supreme Court to admit to any error. They will have no trouble deciding the case in the manner that suits them, in the same way I’d expect them to bat aside any SB8-like legislation that targets assault weapon ownership or voter suppression. It’s going to take a bigger fulcrum than that to make the changes we need.