Staten Islander Exclusive
Anti-Abortion Laws Establish State Religion: Faiths Fighting Back With RFRA (Religious Freedom Restoration Act) – Under G-d Documentary Review
Focusing on the religious argument agsainst abortion laws across the country is proving successfuol in several states.
You may have seen the news recently of a girl who sought an exception to Texas’ anti-abortion bill on medical grounds – the woman’s fetus has an abnormality that makes it incompatible with life. In Texas, even this was not enough to sway the court and allow her to have an abortion.
However, in Texas and elsewhere, the focus of the abortion debate could also be religious. The documentary, Under G-d explores the religious argument against abortion laws.
For pretty much all religions, wih the notable exception of Christianity and Catholicism, life begins at birth, or at 40 days after conception in the case of some Jewish interpretations. However, under no circumstance does life begin at conception according to any other faith.
This is the case across the majority of non-Christian faiths, including Islam, Judaism, Buddhism, and Hinduism. The documentary follows the fight by members of these religious groups who are fighting the abortion laws on religious grounds.
One of the documentary participants is a Jewish woman from Indiana. According to statistics, Indiana has the highest maternal mortality rate in the country. And a near-total abortion ban.
This ban was applicable even in cases where the fetus was unlikely to survive to birth or even until delivery. In some states, even having a miscarriage is a crime.
This refers to a miscarriage, which is not in the woman’s control, which in some states has become a prosecutable offense. Women who have experienced this tragic loss should not be draggd to court and possibly jail for something they have no control over. But this is another matter entirely.
In the state of Indiana, the near-total abortion ban meant that even when the fetus was likely to be miscarried, or likely to suffer a tragically short life, a woman could still not get an abortion.
However, lucklly for women in Indiana, a Jewish rabbi, who is a male, brought a case against the abortion ban. The case relies on the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, a version of which has been eneacted in most states.
However, these laws have previously only been used by Christians in order to enforce their right to practice their religion over someone else’s right to practice ther own lifestyle. This act has been used to justify refusing to do business with gay and lesbian people on the basis of Christian faith, among other things.
Rabbi Silver’s question was simple: Is the RFRA just for Christians, or can Jews use it, too?
So far, Indiana has had its abortion ban paused permanently on the basis of RFRA challenges, and Florida’s case is still in court. Due to the court cases, the ban cannot go into effect in Florida.
Basically, what these RFRA acts say is that the state cannot pass a law that unreasobably infringes on one’s right to practice their religion, or to do something that their faith would allow in distinction to other faiths.
Since these other faiths do allow abortions in their religious teachings, this is certainly a cogent argument. By restricting access to abortion to all residents of a state, regardless of their religious affiliation, they are violating the religious freedom of all non-Christians in the state.
Members of faiths outside of Christianity are hopeful that the RFRA challenges are ultimately successful, as these challenges cannot be appealed.
Highest Maternal Mortyality Rate In The Nation
It can be seen as quite ironic that in the state with the highest maternal mortality rate in the nation, a near-total abortion ban would be enacted. This ban means that women must undergo pregnancy and childbirth, which is quite risky for women in this state.
According to the Commonwealth Fund, the maternal death rates were 62% higher in states with abortion restictions than in those where abortions are allowed. It is unclear why this is the case, but it raises some serious questions about motivations of the legislators.
It is likely that these mortality numbers would rise as more women are forced to undergo childbirth and pregnancy due to these laws.
This documentary was very compelling, providing cogent arguments for the repeal of abortion bans in those states that have bans, as well as in talking about why abortion bans are bad for women and for babies.
In states where maternal mortality is higher, there is a total limitation on the freedom of choice, and as far as the freedom of religion, this is guaranteed by the Constitution.
Religious freedom should apply to all, not just Christians, and establishing a state religion by making abortion illegal is quite unconstitutional. Residents of these and other states are watching what happens in Florida, and some are likely to decide to make their own case against these restrictive and religious-establishment laws.
Banner Image: Under G-d Documentary graphic. Image Credit – PBS