When it comes to The Facts of Life– just whose facts are we being subjected to?
Christian Bible interpretation as U.S. law is fast becoming a fact of life nearly every day from banning books to banning abortion at the moment of conception.
Freedom of religion was once a fact of life in America. So was the separation of church and state.
One of the facts of life I learned early on in grade school, long before I even understood the idea of a fertilized egg, was the fundamental guarantee of our Bill of Rights to protect the state from religious influence. Separation of church and state meant that others religions should not be able to impose their policies as legislation in our country.
As a Jew and a member of a minority religion that meant something.
Yet today, conservative Christian governors and legislators are invoking their faith stating every life is a sacred gift from God. They are using Biblical scripture to argue that a fetus represents a human life making abortion murder. All life, they declare begins at fertilization.
It is the word of God. It must be so.
Whose Bible Is It?
One Christian perspective offers this explanation on whose facts we should believe:
“When did life begin? Is this a theological question, one for a scientist, or a legal question? The ultimate answer can have no authority unless the answer is based squarely on the Word of God. The Bible because it is true will not disagree with genuine science.
The Bible is the only valid and consistent basis for making moral judgments about life since it comes from the Creator of the whole world and the people in it.
Any other basis for judgment is useless, just man-made opinions.
But this is a religious definition of life, not a scientific one. Our laws should be evidence-based not faith-based, and decidedly unscientific language should not be used.
The Jewish interpretation of abortion is different and it is insulting and problematic to lump us all together.
Jews don’t share Christian Biblical beliefs that life begins at conception nor do we legally consider the fetus to be a full person deserving of protection equal to the mother.
In Jewish law, a fetus attains the status of a full person only at birth. A fetus is not considered a separate person, but a part of the mother until birth.
It does not have a soul.
In the Talmud, the primary source of Jewish religious law, ancient rabbis regarded a fetus as part of its mother throughout pregnancy dependent fully on her for its life- a view that echoes the position that women should be free to make decisions concerning their own bodies.
Both Christians and Jews read from the Old Testament, but their interpretations are often different.
What is so often left out of the conversation is how Jews who have read many of the same scriptures argue that their traditions condone abortion. We are clear about a woman’s right to choose. Jewish tradition holds that existing life should take precedent over potential life and a woman and her pain should take precedent over a fetus.
The Bible has a place in one’s life. But not in one’s law.
Don’t prescribe rules for me and my decisions based on your interpretation of scriptures.
Not as a Jew, an American, or as a woman.