Jewish community to join ACLU and abortion providers in lawsuit against Ohio’s six-week abortion ban

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The following article was originally published on News5Cleveland.com and is published in the Ohio Capital Journal under a content sharing agreement. Unlike other OCJ articles, it is not available for free republication by other news outlets because it is owned by WEWS in Cleveland.

Members of the Jewish community gather to tell the Ohio Supreme Court that the six-week abortion ban violates their religious freedom.

Although not fully redacted, the Religious Action Center for Reform Judaism said its Ohio branch (RAC-OH) was working with other Jewish groups to file an amicus brief, jumping on the original lawsuit from the ACLU and Planned Parenthood to share their agreement.

There are about 150,000 Jews in Ohio, according to census data. Like Marisa Nahem, many Jews are coming together to oppose the abortion ban.

“To see Republicans like Mike DeWine, like JD Vance, like Republicans at the state level and at the local level, telling me that other religious beliefs, it seems, are more valid – it’s so sad and it’s is so wrong,” says Nahem.

Nahem and her family in northeast Ohio believe the new six-week abortion ban infringes on their freedom of religion.

Reform and Conservative Judaism supports access to abortion. Orthodox Judaism has no clear answer, which caused divisions following the overthrow of Roe v. Wade. However, the Orthodox believe that abortion should always be permitted to save or prevent pain for the pregnant person, Suffolk University has found.

“For me, being Jewish teaches me that not only do I believe in access to abortion, but I believe that the rights that exist and the opinions that people have, they are entitled to have,” added Nahem.

The ACLU and Planned Parenthood filed a lawsuit against Ohio’s six-week abortion ban, but the Ohio Supreme Court rejected their bid for an emergency stop, which would prevent its application.

This is a huge victory for pro-life families, said Michael Gonidakis of Ohio Right to Life.

“The pursuit and protection of life is actually entrenched in our Ohio Constitution, as well as the United States Constitution,” Gonidakis added.

Freedom of religion does not cover abortion, he said.

“The issue of abortion really has nothing to do with religious faith, but in fact it is a human rights issue,” he said. “We are focused on saving the lives of all human beings, born and unborn.”

The Talmud states that a fetus is “a mere fluid” before 40 days of gestation, however, it is not considered to have a life of its own or independent of the pregnant person’s body until “labor and birth begin”. ‘childbirth’, according to the National Council of Jewish Women (NCJW).

The Torah also states that Jewish law does not consider a fetus to have the status of a person, nor can it be murdered, as it is not alive.

“It’s not based on my personal faith or anyone else’s,” Gonidakis said. “It’s based on the really fundamental nature of the sanctity of life, which is in our Constitution.”

This debate was debated at the end of May, when a total ban on abortion had its third hearing.

“First, it equates to the life of the mother, even above the fetus, but her life takes precedence,” said Sharon Mars, senior rabbi at Temple Israel Columbus after the hearing. “Secondly, the child is not considered a child until it leaves the womb – a soul is not a soul, a person is not a person until hasn’t left the womb. And thirdly, the important thing that I’m trying to point out is that not only is the physical health of the mother at stake, but also the mental health, which is key in this whole conversation.

Jewish law recognizes both a fetus and a pregnant person as having worth and value, but the pregnant person is always more important than the fetus, Mars added. The viability of a fetus is approximately 24 weeks in law.

“I am incredibly proud and grateful of the leaders of the Jewish community, leaders of all faiths, politicians, different people who speak out and talk and stand with the majority of Ohioans and the majority of Americans who have made their views very clear on this,” Nahem said. “I am grateful for the leadership of Jewish community leaders and rabbis and only the Jewish community across the state who say this is not is not right.”

The ACLU of Ohio said they look forward to the Jewish community joining them in this legal fight. So far, professors from Ohio State and the University of Cincinnati have also filed amicus briefs.

Follow WEWS Statehouse reporter Morgan Trau on Twitter and Facebook.

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