Virginia Jews and Their Differing Views on Abortion – Don’t Ask Public Radio

by James C. Sherlock

Another day, and more intentionally misleading headlines in Virginia. This one from Radio IQ, written by Sandy Hausman.

Jewish community leaders will fight attempts to restrict abortion in Virginia

From the text.

Delegate Eileen Filler-Corn, the only Jewish woman in the General Assembly, organized an online gathering to discuss her religion’s view of abortion and of efforts by Governor Youngkin and his political allies to further restrict access. (emphasis added.)

Falls Church Rabbi Amy Schwartzman said amen.

“It is truly an outrage that women are being stripped of their fundamental right to make essential healthcare decisions free of governmental interference. Pregnant individuals must be able to make ethical decisions based on their own beliefs and medical best interests without government officials imposing their personal religious views on others,” she asserted. “It is devastating to hear our governor has aligned himself with the court’s religious authoritarians in denying freedom of religion for not only the Jewish community but for all of those whose beliefs allow pregnant individuals their full rights.”  (emphasis added.)

Rabbi Schwartzman leads a reform Jewish congregation. An official definition of Reform Judaism:

Reform Judaism maintains faith in the Covenant between God and Israel as expressed over the generations in the teachings of an ever-evolving Torah and tradition. (Emphasis added.)

Filler-Corn and Schwartzman believe what they believe, have a constitutional right to do so, and I wish both women well.

The issue is that there is not a word in the article about the views of other Jews, those who are members of conservative and orthodox Virginia congregations.

The omission misleads.

Virginia’s Jewish community is about 1% of the population of the state, so the average reader will see that headline and deduce that our Jewish citizens favor unrestricted abortion.

Some do. Reform Jews may. Some don’t. Conservative Judaism does not. Orthodox Jewish communities do not. Jewish religious tradition does not.

See the tracing of the Conservative/Orthodox religious view of abortion here. The summary offered:

Under normal circumstances it is forbidden to take the life of an unborn child, and it may be akin to murder (depending on the stage of pregnancy and birth).

As long as the unborn remains a fetus, it does not have a status of personhood equal to its mother, and therefore may be sacrificed to save the life of the mother.

In any case where abortion may be necessary, it is of paramount importance to consult halachic and medical experts as soon as possible.

Life of the mother. Certainly an exception supported by virtually all, and certainly by the Governor.

So Ms. Hausman has offered Rep. Filler-Corn’s and Rabbi Schwartzman’s views as the views of the entire Jewish religion. That is not true, and certainly both of those women know it. But they did not write the article. Ms. Hausman did.

Unfortunately, one-sided opinions presented as news represents the state of the practice by many reporters.

They should, but won’t, stick to the editorial/op-ed pages.