SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — Oftentimes, anti-abortion ideology is associated with religion. However, not all religions have found abortion to be as hot a topic as is often seen within, for example, evangelical Christianity or Catholicism.
One such alternate point of view is found in Reform Judaism.
Reform Judaism is one branch of the faith, distinct from orthodox, conservative or reconstructivist. “We are part of the progressive arm of Judaism, where we welcome our LGBTQ community members; women are able to be rabbis and read from the Torah and lead services,” said Jen Dreiske, a member of the Mt. Zion congregation in Sioux Falls.
“Reform Judaism is a proponent of access to abortion,” said Dreiske. “As a Jew, I have a responsibility for the well-being of all humans for their health care.”
To Dreiske and other followers of Reform Judaism, reproductive health decisions are deeply personal ones.
“It’s our responsibility to trust others in knowing how they should proceed with the care that they need,” Dreiske said. “It’s not my place to make a decision on what is the best care for somebody else.”
That decision is effected with the overturning of Roe vs. Wade by the U.S. Supreme Court, and it is one which raises an interesting first amendment issue.
“Our government is telling us that I as a Jewish woman can’t be trusted in making a decision for my health care,” said Dreiske. “That violates my religious freedoms as a Jew who believes that I should have access to abortion care.”
This is not just a personal choice for those within Reform Judaism, but one they trace back to the book of Genesis.
“In Judaism, the beginning of life is when we take our first breath,” Dreiske explained. “If you go back to the book of Genesis, at the very beginning after God has created the world, he starts forming Adam out of the clay, and then he breaths life into him — Adam wasn’t alive when he was being formed in the clay, he was breathed to life by God after he was done.”
Dreiske says the focus of Reform Jews is on the life here and now, not on the potentiality of life. Ultimately, the choice of whether to carry or terminate a pregnancy is up to the woman who is carrying the fetus.
Despite this interpretation of the holy text, you will not likely hear those of the Jewish faith advocating for aborting 9-month old babies. This is in part due to the fact that the issue of abortion is not a fixation within the Reform Jewish faith.
“Abortion is left up to the woman and her choice,” Dreiske said simply. “There’s no need to have a conversation about it because we’re not trying to change anybody’s mind, and we’re not dangling an afterlife in front of people for making a decision about their health care.”
Abortion is not discussed during services within the congregation, Dreiske said. “We trust the women.”