To the editor:
I find the commentary by Rabbi Avi Shafran on the overturning of Roe v. Wade very puzzling (Wisconsin Jewish Chronicle, August 2022).
Shafran is quite clear that Jewish law permits (and in some cases requires) abortion, and acknowledges the variety of approaches within Orthodox legal opinions.
But on an individual basis, with an actual Jewish woman in a particular pregnancy, the halachic process requires not only thorough knowledge of the “different approaches to the nature of the issue” but also the specific circumstances of the woman and the medical advice of her doctor.
The laws now being permitted by the Supreme Court’s decision fly directly in the face of that. A Jewish woman should be able to consult a rabbinic authority in making a decision on abortion. Laws being passed in many states make it impossible for rabbis to exercise that authority.
There are already cases in certain states of women being denied care until their situation becomes critical, because doctors and hospitals are not sure that they can act according to their best judgment under newly passed laws. How can an Orthodox rabbi be able to render meaningful guidance with such laws in place?
Jay H. Beder