Abortion is a very controversial social issue that has existed for many decades. The controversy behind this issue is caused by the different views that people and societies have regarding abortion. The social science disciplines of political science and religion will be used in getting a better understanding of the opposing views of abortion. In discussing the religious aspects of abortion, this paper will focus on the Jewish and Catholic views of abortion and how the two faiths effect an individual s decision upon having an abortion. When discussing the political controversy regarding abortion, this paper will discuss the abortion laws in Canada and the United States as well as the pro-choice and anti-choice movements of abortion. Society is greatly affected both socially and politically by abortions due to the different moralistic views regarding abortions and the controversies surrounding abortions. What are the views of the Catholic and Jewish religions on having abortions and how do their different views effect society? How is society effected by the political controversies behind abortions? Religion and Abortion
Abortion is an issue that causes extreme divisions among various religious groups due to the laws of the religions, in particular, those of the Jewish and Christian religions. The Jewish religion is based on the belief in one G-d as well as respecting the laws that G-d imposed on the Jews. The Jewish people are expected to do what is just and merciful in the eyes of G-d (World Book, 1990). The Talmud, written by scholars who greatly respect G-d s wishes, is a collection of legal and ethical writings which serves as a primary guide to the civil and religious laws of Judaism (World Book, 1990). It states that the fetus is a part of the mother rather than a person or an independent entity, abortion is not considered murder, since the fetus is not a person until it comes into the world (Butler et al., 1992). Therefore, when having abortions under the proper circumstances and not for reasons of convenience, the Jews are abiding by the religious and ethical laws that G-d imposed on his people, which are inscribed in the book of laws. Depending on one s religious beliefs, one may view abortion as acceptable. Judaism is divided into three religious groups: the Orthodox, Reform and Conservative. The Orthodox Jews accept all the traditional Jewish beliefs and ways of life and strictly observe all Jewish laws and greatly respect G-d (World Book, 1990). Orthodox Jews therefore, discourage abortions expect if a pregnancy will threaten a woman s life (Butler et al., 1992). Conservative Jews however, de- emphasize the rituals of Judaism but they follow more of the traditional practices than do Reform Jews (Kolatch, 1985). Reform Jews believe that moral and ethical teachings form the most important part of Judaism and feel that many rituals and traditions do not have significance over them (World Book, 1990). Therefore, they have eliminated many of the traditional customs and ceremonies of Judaism (Kolatch, 1985). The Reform and Conservative Jews believe that a fetus is not a person and there is no restriction against having an abortion (Butler et al., 1992). The political issue of abortion in Judaism began before the case of Roe v. Wade in 1973 (Butler et al., 1992). In 1967, the Central Conference of American Rabbis said that legitimate abortions were valid and urged all states to permit abortions for the emotional and physical well being of the woman and in cases which involve sexual crimes (Butler et al., 1992). The Jewish religion strongly supported the case of Roe v. Wade, especially since this case allowed abortions to be legalized (Butler et al., 1992) as well as, since the Jewish religion accepts abortions as long as it can be justified (Kolatch, 1985). In 1985, the Rabbinical Assembly of Conservative Jews implied that abortion is not only permitted but mandated by Jewish law when the woman s life or well being is...
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