Sunday, March 28, 2010

From a discussion at Vox Day's blog (not my comment):

Learn how to think. As far as lip service to the lives of people after birth, orphanages, hospitals, adoptions, charities,etc., those things are products of Christianity. The posters here who are arguing for the life of a baby in the womb are being entirely consistent with Christianity (and Judaism for that matter). As far as my opinion, I will merely echo what our God taught us.

Response (also not my comment):

Not sure where you got the idea that abortion is inconsistent with Judaism, but it certainly wasn't from a Jew. For at least the last thousands years Rabbis have taught that the child in the womb is no more than an appendage of the mother. Thus child has no right to life. Who do you think was the most powerful group in support of legalized abortion?

Since there are a couple of people that post comments at Vox's blog and that I have seen make rather hyperbolic claims where anything Jewish is concerned, I asked for documentation backing up this assertion, and was provided with the following:

"If a woman suffers hard labor in travail, the child (fetus) must be cut up in her womb and brought out piecemeal, for her life takes precedence over its life. If its greater part has already come forth, it must not be touched, for the [claim of one] life cannot supersede [that of another] life." Mishna (Ohalot 7:6).

Health of the mother, psychological and physical, takes precedence over the life of the child in Judaism. Sound familiar? Also the child is fair game in the first trimester, and has some protection in the last trimester (but not much). Judaism is in perfect accord with the law of the land. Ain't that interesting.

The portion quoted speaks specifically of a situation in which the mother is already in labor and may die - which is not abortion as it is practiced in our country today. But, clearly, this was not something that could be classified as hyperbolic, and thus I began a search for Ohalot and Halakhah. Ohalot is part of the Halakhah, which is "the collective body of Jewish law."

Feel free to do your own search, but from what I determined, the Ohalot and the Halakhah are essentially the written records of Jewish theological discussions which were given weight and embraced into the Jewish way of life. They are something outside of the Christian Bible. I found this paper on abortion from a historical Jewish perspective to be interesting.

As noted, I definitely favor adopting the first possibility, based on the proof-text regarding the Noachide. Indeed, the Mekhilta records the position of Isi ben Akiva that whatever is forbidden to the Jew: "Before revelation we were enjoined from shedding blood, after revelation in place of forbidding such an action shall we now permit it?! Verily they said people who commit these acts are exempt from human punishment but are liable for divine retribution" (Mishpatim, Mesekhet Nezikin, 4). Though the punishment of the Jew in certain types of homicide may be lighter, the fact that he has violated the prohibition of homicide does not vary. Therefore, it seems clear that in any case where a Noachide abortionist is liable for murder, a Jew is considered a murderer as well.

The short answer: not allowed.

The long answer...

Here, however, we enter the area of the second fundamental issue: the scope of the prohibition. Does it apply to all fetuses in all situations or only to certain ones? If there are limitations, how are they determined? This question can, of course, be raised in relation to all the possible rationales listed above. Clearly, these rationales are not mutually exclusive. Some abortions may come under all the categories of prohibition; some may be permitted. To return for the moment to the violation of homicide and the proof from Noachide law, it seems to me that the Noachide is only liable in those instances where the fetus had developed to the point of independent viability (outside the uterus) at that time. In such circumstances, a Jew committing an abortion is exempt from capital punishment only because of the child's status as a fetus, i.e., not having left the womb and entered the world; this exemption is not granted to the Noachide. Hence the Jew would violate the prohibition of homicide and would be subject to divine punishment. In the early stages of pregnancy, however, the missing element of full life is not merely that birth has yet to occur, but rather the absence of full development and the fact that in its current state it is not viable outside the womb. It would thus be logical to assume that such an abortion would not be classified as an act of murder. Murder, it would appear, is defined as the termination of currently existing life, and not the curtailment of potential life. Therefore, it would seem that the prohibition of murder proper should be limited to the latter part of pregnancy – practically speaking, more or less the last trimester. (emphasis mine)

Really? Logical? That sounds like mental contortions to me. Full life? How exactly is 'full life' determined?

I have said it before. I will say it again. Science cannot prove or disprove the existence of a human soul. But it can prove that from the moment of conception, the entity created is a living organism; human and separate, genetically, from the mother. So describing it as "potential life" is spurious. It is alive and it is human.

In my musings, it occurred to me that we do 'pull the plug' on people in whom brain activity has ceased, because they are considered to be dead whether or not other bodily functions continue. So I did a quick search on when brain activity can be detected in a pregnancy and discovered that the infant will have detectable brain waves a mere eight weeks into gestation.

After this, I returned to reading the paper in question and was surprised that though I found their definition of life versus potential life to be inaccurate, that the writer had actually come to the conclusion that abortion really should be avoided - even if having the child would cause psychological, social or financial burdens to the parents. I could not post the entire article here because of space issues, but I would recommend reading the entire thing.

Despite this emphasis, I imagine that some may view the ideas presented above as, overall, excessively severe and inflexible. Hence my second concluding remark. Judged by the standard prevalent today in most of the world, at least the Western world, the halakhic approach presented here appears rather stringent. This requires no apologetics. But it is worth making clear, certainly to those who, in seeking a humane approach, are liable to adopt slavishly an overly liberal attitude in this area, that from the perspective of the fetus and those concerned with its welfare, liberality in this direction comes at the expense of humanity, insofar as the caution of Halakha is tied to its intimate concern for the values of kindness and mercy. It is not only the honor of God which obligates us, regardless of the cost, to avoid what is prohibited and to obey the commands of the Almighty that are expressed in this Halakha. It is also the honor of man in Halakha, the humane and ethical element which insists on the preservation of human dignity and concern for human welfare, that rises up in indignation against the torrent of abortions. If the Halakha's course is sometimes onerous for certain families or for those responsible for them – and this fact should neither be denied nor ignored – let us remember, paraphrasing the famous words of Byron, that Halakha loved not the parents less, but the child more.

So, while I admit my research is not extensive, my conclusion is that Judaic texts do not, in fact, support abortion or 'abortion rights' any more than the Bible supports the pre-Tribulation Rapture or other 'mainstream' Christian doctrinal beliefs whose source can be traced to man, not God.

EDIT: Somehow I missed that the article I stumbled across in my search is the very same article linked in the comment at Vox Popoli. Which means the person that left the comment either did not read the entire article, or fails to comprehend what they are reading. Especially since they claimed "
Health of the mother, psychological and physical, takes precedence over the life of the child in Judaism."

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

I hate this.

This is a farce that anyone should be able to see through.

Our dear, delightful commander-in-chief has to 'sell health care reform to a reluctant public.'

That is perhaps one of the most blatant examples I have seen recently that show just what a joke our elections actually are. In truth, we have a political ruling class and the only thing they care about is amassing power at the expense of the underclass.

Even better - an article that mentions that the bill is supposed to save $138 billion over a decade. Later, in the very same article, they mention that funding will be provided by raising taxes by $400 billion over the next decade.

Monday, March 15, 2010

This article left me giggling. Clearly people that mock soccer as being somewhat less than manly have a basis for their mockery...

He limped off the field and was stretchered away in tears as medical staff and players consoled him.

Milan coach Leonardo said: "I saw him and he was suffering. In the dressing room, I took him in my arms and told him that if he wanted, he will be with us next year."

Saturday, March 06, 2010

When my husband and I began dating, I determined that he had some pretty crazy ideas about women. He had this weird, warped view of how women behaved and what made them tick and seemed to be fully convinced that most women were crazy. I assumed he was just exaggerating for comedic effect; laughed over it and shook my head.

Of course, I was basing my opinion of what women were like on myself, my sisters and my mother. My mother home schooled us and never tried to instill a feminist attitude or outlook on life. I had not had many female friends growing up, and the few along the way were usually from other, similarly-minded families.

I had a handful of friends when I met my husband, almost exclusively male. My husband, on the other hand, had an extensive network of friends and friendly acquaintances, many of whom were female. Suddenly I was introduced to a whole new concept: the female hive mind. This chilling phenomenon is best illustrated by the following story...

One day, my husband-to-be, myself and a large group from his extended social network got together for the purpose of tubing down one of Florida's beautiful spring-fed rivers. Afterward we returned to the apartment of the young man that had organized the trip, where we watched the movie Empire Records (which, incidentally, started my loathing of the airhead actress Liv Tyler). Part of this otherwise quite-forgettable movie included a scene in which the main character is confronted on a rooftop by the object of his affection over behavior of his which she found objectionable. Not only does she lecture and scold him, she shoves him, so hard that he stumbles backward.

The apartment living room is overcrowded with young men and the young women they are dating. One of these young women, the girlfriend of our host, pipes up - "And that's what makes women so cool!" Her comment is followed by a wave of girlish laughter and heads nodding in agreement. The males in the room are completely, uncomfortably silent. I, on the other hand, am in shock, having just been plunged into the Twilight Zone and having witnessed the Feminine Hive Mind at its most unholy.

Really? This female character throws a childish temper tantrum over a young man's perceived moral failings and... this is cool? My mind boggled. Even now I can only imagine what the reaction would have been had the male character belittled and yelled at the female character before shoving her in the chest.

This was the beginning of my new found understanding that my husband was not, in fact, living in some kind of fantasy realm where women were unfathomable, illogical, emotional messes. This was really what he had dealt with growing up and attending public school. Yeowch!