Reform Synagogue Sues DeSantis Over Abortion Law, Argues It Violates Freedom of Religion

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FILE - Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis holds up a 15-week abortion ban law after signing it on April 14, 2022, in Kissimmee, Fla. A synagogue claims in a lawsuit filed Friday, June 10, 2022, that a new Florida law prohibiting abortion after 15 weeks violates religious freedom rights of Jews in addition to the state constitution’s privacy protections. (AP Photo/John Raoux, File)

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A new Florida law prohibiting abortion after 15 weeks with some exceptions violates religious freedom rights of Jews in addition to the state constitution’s privacy protections, a synagogue claims in a lawsuit.

The lawsuit filed by the Congregation L’Dor Va-Dor of Boynton Beach contends the law that takes effect July 1 violates Jewish teachings, which state abortion “is required if necessary to protect the health, mental or physical well-being of the woman” and for other reasons.

“As such, the act prohibits Jewish women from practicing their faith free of government intrusion and this violates their privacy rights and religious freedom,” says the lawsuit, filed Friday in Leon County Circuit Court.

The lawsuit adds that people who “do not share the religious views reflected in the act will suffer” and that it “threatens the Jewish people by imposing the laws of other religions upon Jews.”

The lawsuit is the second challenge to the 15-week abortion ban enacted earlier this year by the Legislature and signed into law by Republican Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis. Planned Parenthood and other reproductive health providers also sued earlier this month to block the law from taking effect.

In a previous statement, DeSantis’ office said it “is confident that this law will ultimately withstand all legal challenges.”

The two lawsuits are likely to be consolidated into a single case. A hearing on a proposed injunction to block the Florida abortion law is likely in the next two weeks.

The law mirrors a similar measure passed in Mississippi that is now before the U.S. Supreme Court, which may use it to overturn the Roe v. Wade abortion decision based on a leaked draft opinion. A final ruling on Roe is expected by the end of June.

In Florida, Rabbi Barry Silver of Congregation L’Dor Va-Dor — the name means “Generation to Generation”— said it practices “cosmic Judaism,” which he defines on the synagogue’s website as “the Judaism of tomorrow today” that respects science, tradition and spirituality.

Silver is an attorney, social activist and former Democratic state legislator who styles himself as a “Rabbi-rouser” on his own website. In an interview Tuesday, Silver said when separation of religion and government crumbles, religious minorities such as Jews often suffer.

“Every time that wall starts to crack, bad things start to happen,” he said, noting that DeSantis signed the law at an evangelical Christian church.

The new Florida abortion law, contains exceptions if the abortion is necessary to save a mother’s life, prevent serious injury or if the fetus has a fatal abnormality. It does not allow for exemptions in cases where pregnancies were caused by rape, incest or human trafficking.

Under current law, Florida allows abortions up to 24 weeks.

No faith is monolithic on the abortion issue. Yet many followers of faiths that do not prohibit abortion are aghast that a view held by a minority of Americans could supersede their individual rights and religious beliefs such as the position of Judaism as outlined in the lawsuit.

“This ruling would be outlawing abortion in cases when our religion would permit us,” said Rabbi Danya Ruttenberg, scholar in residence at the National Council of Jewish Women, “and it is basing its concepts of when life begins on someone else’s philosophy or theology.”

(AP)


25 COMMENTS

  1. Based on the logic behind the lawsuit (if) there is a religion who believes it is their religious obligation to kill infidels then the laws against murder need to make an exception for them

  2. Persons of Jewish descent who have abandoned Yiddishkeit, often many generations ago, often have very weird ideas especially matters related to religion, politics and sex. As they are increasingly likely to be goyim, we should perhaps consider their perspectives no more important than those of Christians (who originally were OTD Jews rejecting the yoke of Torah and the kingship of the Creator). l fairness, the gap between eating cheeseburgers, working 24/7 and killing babies isn’t all that great.

  3. Just what situations does Jewish Law require abortion that is prohibited by the Florida law? I read this article, and it seems that those exceptions are detailed. Or maybe this a pro-choice liberal donning a rabbinical hat to advance a pro-abortion agenda?

  4. At first, I thought that the name of the synagogue was ironic. Then I saw that they practice “the Judaism of tomorrow today”, and I realized that their generations are going backward.

  5. I would love it if all streams of observant judaism including chassidic, sfradic etc issued a joint proclamation that american reforms are not jews and that no jew is permitted to marry someone from the american reform background.

  6. Check with the major poskim, obviously not these people, but when the life of the mother is in danger, abortion is possible. Radical republicans want to remove that option from everyone in all situations.

  7. Our laws require us to annihilate certain nations (Amalekites) should we say that all laws banning murder are violating our freedom of religion?!
    Freedom of religion doesn’t give you the right to end someone’s life even if your religion were to require you to take someone’s life in certain circumstances.

  8. As a religious Orthodox Jew, i happen to agree almost fully with the lawsuit. This is a very slippery slope towards christian intolerance of other religions. this could easily be a ban on circumcision as according to them we shouldnt be having it – or anything. very dangerous when religous dictums take over a free country for many different types of ppl.
    Disclaimer: I do Not think these guys are jewish in any way shape or form – just pointing out that in this case, they happen to have good point

  9. In the Reform and Conservative religions (whose adherents have a large percentage of non-practicing Jews, though a majority of Reform are gentiles/non-Jewish by this time in history), they have a “religious” mandate to kill unwanted babies.

  10. I would like to know where Barry Silver got his Smicha from before calling him a Rabbi. His father Sam was one of the first “rabbis” to perform intermarriages, a fact of which he is very proud and follows in his footsteps to this day. He practices something he calls “Cosmic Judaism” which I’m pretty sure is even further from authentic Judaism than Reconstructionist Judaism (if that is even possible). From reading his past newspaper articles he appears to be an anti-Frum Apikores of the worst kind. Just another left wing liberal Jew trying to be relevant in todays wacky world.

  11. The headline is incorrect. This sinagogue is not Reform. It’s “non-denominational”, meaning it doesn’t belong to any movement, and just makes its religion up as it goes along. Apparently in its religion, at least this week, abortion is a sacrament!

  12. Milhouse:
    Apparently they’re too radical to even identify with Reform. That should put them somewhere between paganism and satanism.

  13. The name of their synagogue is B’lashon Sagi Nahor – as each generation progresses fewer and fewer of them remain Jews because of intermarriage and I think in another generation or two there won’t be any Dor with Jews left in their fold. They are marching strong into oblivion.

  14. Chaylev Halyah;

    Please find healthier outlets to satisfy your need to vent your extremely naïve Chidushim.

    Or, better yet, just don’t share them at all.

    YWN is not a place you should be visiting/ obsessed with on a daily basis.

    Thanks!

  15. rt now I can add to your list “doesn’t know how to read English “. You are a nebuch case of the highest caliber. I feel sorry for you. What a waste of a life.

  16. YWN needs Kiruv June 15, 2022 3:53 pm at 3:53 pm
    Chaylev Halyah , you are correct …..your falsifier is diminishing a woman, continue in your voice I agree, as far as YWN needing Kiruv, I believe now it lost or never had a soul or understands the rules of print for a religious jew…..the article is non denominational like the crystal church…

  17. Ader, that is ridiculous. NOBODY thinks parents have a right to kill their child. Determining that can have no bearing on whether parents can decide on surgery for their child.

    RT lies AS USUAL. NOBODY proposes banning abortion when the mother’s life is in danger. Nobody. RT is just making it up because he is incapable of ever telling the truth.

  18. Even though I live in Israel I sent a thank you note and encouragement to Governor DeSantis. It is a chilul HaShem if people believe that Judaism permits abortion if the mother desires it.

  19. besalel : Reform Jews are “safek” Jews (also “safek” mamzerim). Clearly by halacha, one can’t loan them money at interest, not ear hametz they’ve owned over Pesach, not allow them to open non-mevusal wine, nor use them as a Shabbos goy. While be should be wary about them being Jews, we also have to consider there is a very high chance that some of them are Jews.

    Re: when halacha allows abortion. Since under the “common law”, there is a doctrine of “necessity” applicable to any criminal case (e.g. if a child is trapped in a car, you are not criminally liable if you smash the window to save the child, even though smashing the window to someone else’s car is illegal), and under the well established rule that the common law can only be repealed by a explicit repeal by the legislature, the very unusual situations under which halacha allows abortion would not result in criminal prosecution even if a state law fails to mention them, i.e., the default is to allow the defense of “necessity”.