Tragic and Ironic: Israel Expands Abortion in 2014

This article from Israel’s Ha’aretz newspaper ends the year on a downer for me.

Beginning in 2014, Israel will fund all abortions for women 20-33. While such news isn’t surprising for me, it is certainly heartbreaking and tragic. The “progressive” attitude of Israelis toward abortion is ironic in at least four ways:

1. The expansion of abortion in Israel contradicts a very famous Jewish dictum sourced from the Talmud:

“Whoever destroys a soul, it is considered as if he has destroyed a whole world. And whoever saves a life it is considered as if he saved a whole world. ” – Babylonian Talmud, Sanhedrin 4:8 (37a)

Adam was created alone, some suggest, to demonstrate the value and potential of a single human life.

According to the article, because of the new rule “another 6,300 additional women are expected to have state-funded abortions next year.” Therefore, in Talmudic terms, the expansion of abortion in Israel will destroy the whole world an estimated 6,300 additional times in 2014.

2. The expansion of abortion in Israel contradicts the Israeli mantra “never again.” One outcome of the holocaust in which some 6,000,000 Jews were murdered is a social/national/military commitment “never again” to allow others to come close to destroying the Jewish people. Yet, Israeli Jews are doing it to themselves.

If this number of additional abortions weren’t bad enough, state health officials say “they hope to make eligibility for state funding universal in the future.”

3. The expansion of abortion in Israel contradicts the demographic concerns of Israeli Jews. It is common knowledge that many Israeli Jews are concerned about the low Jewish birth rate as it compares to a relatively higher Arab birth rate in Israel because of the democratic nature of the government of Israel. In other words, if Jews continue to kill their children in increasing numbers before they are born, the Arab population will continue to inch forward as a result of a higher birth rate, and theoretically could surpass the number of Israeli Jews. And thus, endanger the existence of the only Jewish state in the world.

4. The expansion of abortion in Israel contradicts the Jewish principle of Tikun Olam (“repairing the world”), which is appropriately credited as a motivating factor for the many positive contributions of Jews to the betterment of the world (see Michael Ordman’s Good News From Israel for examples).

Of these additional 6,300 children who are expected to be killed through abortion in 2014, how many would have become educators? Scientists? Doctors? Good neighbors? I wonder how many children those 6,300 children would have had, and among that generation, how many would have been educators, scientists, doctors, and good neighbors? Of course that 2nd unborn generation would also have had children. How many is impossible to know, but I wonder how many of them would have contributed to Tikun Olam. That question can be extrapolated out endlessly as is explained in point 1 above . . . saving a life equals saving the world.

To this point, I have only considered those babies that are expected to be killed in 2014. What about those killed through abortion in 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, . . . and their generations of descendents?

This decision may appear to some to be both generous and an expansion of women’s rights and protections. However, a quick scratch of the surface reveals that it is only fool’s gold.

Choosing Thomas

The Dallas Morning News has published a beautiful article Choosing Thomas, which details the heartbreaking and joy giving story of TK and Deidra Laux whose son Thomas was a victim of Trisomy 13.

As a parent who has walked this path, I want to complement the staff of The Dallas Morning News on a wonderful job of presenting this story, capturing the heartache and disappointment and fear that parents feel when faced with the terrible news: “There appear to be some serious problems.” The staff also did a wonderful job in capturing the surprising joy that a baby with “serious and fatal problems” brings to his/her parents and family and friends.

As I watched the video and read the accompanying article(s) and journal, I continually thought: This is our story. That’s what happened to us.

However, our story was different in that our Abigail Hope didn’t survive to birth; she was stillborn. Our story was also complicated by the fact that it took place in Israel, far away from our family and most of our life friends.

We were thankful that there were a few people here who hurt with us, but so many seemed to dismiss our situation as nothing too serious. Perhaps some just didn’t know what to say, which is common. But in many cases, it was simply a cultural callousness toward these types of things. At least one person assumed Abigail didn’t have a name yet, thus she didn’t have “person hood.” He was wrong on both counts. Others blindly followed the traditional Jewish thought that a life duration of more than thirty days establishes a human being as a viable person. If a child dies before that time, he is considered to not have lived at all.

The medical community offered no comfort either since they could only think of one thing to say: “TERMINATE NOW!” In fact, the country’s expert in 3-D ultrasound and genetic abnormalities was shocking in his callousness: In response to our question regarding the reasonable expectation of length of life for Abigail should she survive to full term, he said, “Not long, but I would hope she wouldn’t live one second! Her problems are too severe to want her to live. My advice is to terminate NOW!” Unfortunately, that wasn’t his only disaster in bed side manner, but I’m not interested to recount the others here.

“Terminate now,” was so foreign to our thoughts, the doctors all thought we had parachuted in from another galaxy. We insisted that we wouldn’t even consider killing Abigail, and the doctors looked at us in utter disbelief and disdain. Who were we to be so resistant to their advice? They were the experts; and they know the outcome of these situations. I knew our position was right, but it was nice to hear other parents in our situation agree with us – even three years later: Toward the end of the video report [in a voice over the funeral scenes] Deidre Laux clearly articulated our thoughts: “We didn’t not terminate because we were hanging onto some sort of hope there was a medical mistake or there was going to be some some sort of medical miracle. We didn’t terminate because he’s our son.” Because Abigail was our daughter! We loved her, broken body and all; how could we even consider breaking her body more?

Burial is another point at which our story and the Lauxes’ diverge. In Israel, most cemeteries are religiously segregated, which is to say that Abigail couldn’t be buried in a Jewish or Muslim cemetery, the most abundant cemeteries here. As it turned out, she wasn’t welcome to be buried in the evangelical Christian cemetery either, which is a story in itself.

This all happened so fast, and the hospital staff was pressing us for an answer regarding the disposition of the body. Dealing with death, especially that of our own child, in Israel was all new to us. We didn’t know to whom to turn. And it was late Thursday afternoon, which is to say that the Sabbath was quickly approaching and things would be shutting down for the weekend. We made a few phone calls, only to reach dead ends or endless stalling, which we understood to be a no without actually saying, “no.” Meanwhile, the hospital was pressing for an answer.

Finally, we decided to use the service of the Jewish burial society, who gathers the bodies of all children under the age of 30 days and buries them in an unmarked grave. I guess to their credit, even though they don’t consider the children to have genuine person hood, at least they give them a somewhat proper burial.

I recommend this video report to you. If you aren’t familiar with the emotions and thoughts and struggles that take place when parents are told, “there are some problems,” this report will give you some insight.

If you are struggling with the issue of termination, please watch the video – to the end.

In our days on this road, we leaned heavily on each other, but more heavily upon the Lord: “Hear, O Lord, and be merciful to me! O Lord, be my helper! (Psalm 30:10)” He was, and continues to be.

A Matter of Survival?

Dr. Wendy Chavkin offers her memories of Dr. Tiller in a New York Daily News opinion piece. Clearly, she is trying to paint her colleague, the good doctor who claimed to have performed some 60,000 abortions, as a saint. However, in her efforts to canonize the good qualities of Dr. Tiller, she actually gives us an insider’s view of the motivation of one of the leaders in the industry.

Here’s one interesting quote:

He resolved to care for the patients who turned to him for help, just as his father had. And as he did, George learned firsthand of the urgency and complexity of his patients’ predicaments, which fueled his determination to keep going. He said, “The women in my father’s practice for whom he did abortions educated me and taught me that abortion is about women’s hopes, dreams, potential, the rest of their lives. Abortion is a matter of survival (emphasis added).”

There it is in Dr. Tiller’s words: “. . . abortion is about women’s hopes, dreams, potential, the rest of their lives.” After all, an unwanted pregnancy might change a woman’s hopes, dreams and potential. In fact, it might change the rest of their lives. You think so? However, none of those things are really about survival; they are about S. E. L. F.

And the above quote puts the lie to the Pro-Choice mantra regarding women’s health. It’s overwhelmingly NOT about women’s health; it’s about S. E. L. F.

“That’s just one doctor’s opinion,” you say. According to a 2006 New England Journal of Medicine article that is very sympathetic toward abortion and abortion providers, “nationwide [in the USA] about 1 in 14 abortions is sought for health reasons.” That’s 7.142%! And that percentage is divided between the mother’s and the child’s health concerns, which includes birth defects like Spina Bifida, Down’s Syndrome, malformed limbs, etc. All of these are overwhelming challenges, no doubt, but I personally know wonderful people who live with those challenges and have productive lives.

If the NEJM statistics hold true in Dr. Tiller’s case, then he killed 55,715 babies because they might affect “women’s hopes, dreams, potential, the rest of their lives.”

Why isn’t this same logic extended to include thieves or drunk drivers or child molestors? They all affect men’s and “women’s hopes, dreams, potential, the rest of their lives.”

Folks, it’s not about women’s health, it’s about S. E. L. F. Why can’t we admit that? The answer is simple: because we don’t want to admit the level of brutality our selfishness can produce. It’s easier to face the barbaric nature of abortion if we convince ourselves it’s about health.

Controversial Thoughts

I’m trying to work through the whole Dr. Tiller assassination. My thoughts are all over the place.

However, I can say this: I hope all the discussion regarding Dr. Tiller’s death will bring more to the forefront the horror that is nicely packaged as “a woman’s choice.” In other words, the 1,000,000s of deaths performed by the hands of Dr. Tiller and those like him should not be forgotten simply because he was gunned down.

I fear that many in the “pro-life” camp don’t take very seriously the horror that is abortion. I’m certain that those in the “pro-choice” camp don’t take seriously the brutal deaths of the not-yet born.

The ’08 Presidential Candidates Speak

The United States Supreme Court just upheld the law commonly known as the Partial Birth Abortion Ban and the major 2008 presidential candidates have all offered their reaction to the court’s decision.

However, before I let them speak for themselves, I think it is appropriate to give some background to the “partial birth abortion” procedure.

For the purpose of the law to ban partial birth abortion, the US Congress defined a partial birth abortion as,

“An abortion in which the person performing the abortion, deliberately and intentionally vaginally delivers a living fetus until, in the case of a head-first presentation, the entire fetal head is outside the body of the mother, or, in the case of breech presentation, any part of the fetal trunk past the navel is outside the body of the mother, for the purpose of performing an overt act that the person knows will kill the partially delivered living fetus; and performs the overt act, other than completion of delivery, that kills the partially delivered living fetus. (18 U.S. Code 1531)” [Emphasis added]

Wikipedia has a fairly comprehensive entry titled “Intact Dilation and Extraction,” (a.k.a. partial birth abortion and PBA) that outlines the historical, medical and legal background of this controversial procedure. Additionally, Wikipedia’s entry, Partial-Birth Abortion Act Ban, provides a good summary of the issues that surround the law itself.

The National Right To Life organization offers a series of slides that provide a visual overview of the PBA procedure. This set of 5 black and white illustrations are fairly simple, but give an objective representation of what happens when a mother chooses to abort her late term baby. WARNING: Though the slides are simple and without sensationalism, they may be very disturbing and probably very enlightening to most people.

Other links that I think offer helpful insight to the PBA procedure are:
The Naitonal Right to Life
Priests for Life

Now that you have had a chance to be informed about the PBA procedure, I offer the presidential hopeful’s thoughts about the US Supreme court’s decision to uphold the ban on PBA.

John Edwards
John Edwards for President

Apr 18, 2007

Chapel Hill, North Carolina – Senator John Edwards released the following statement about today’s 5-4 Supreme Court ruling upholding the federal abortion ban.

I could not disagree more strongly with today’s Supreme Court decision. The ban upheld by the Court is an ill-considered and sweeping prohibition that does not even take account for serious threats to the health of individual women. This hard right turn is a stark reminder of why Democrats cannot afford to lose the 2008 election. Too much is at stake – starting with, as the Court made all too clear today, a woman’s right to choose.” [Emphasis added]

[According to this press release, Senator Edwards believes it is vitally important that Democrats win the 2008 election so that they can preserve a woman’s right to choose to have her baby partially delivered before killing it.]

Rudy Giuliani

“The Supreme Court reached the correct conclusion in upholding the congressional ban on partial birth abortion,” Giuliani said in a statement on the 5-4 decision. “I agree with it.” [Emphasis added]

[According to this article, when Giuliani ran for Senate in 2000, he said he would not vote to restrict a woman’s right to undergo the procedure [PBA]. So, one must wonder if Rudy has had a genuine change of heart, or an expedient, politically motivated one.]

Hillary Clinton
From the Senate: Statement on Supreme Court’s Gonzales v. Carhart Decision


Washington, DC — “This decision marks a dramatic departure from four decades of Supreme Court rulings that upheld a woman’s right to choose and recognized the importance of women’s health. Today’s decision blatantly defies the Court’s recent decision in 2000 striking down a state partial-birth abortion law because of its failure to provide an exception for the health of the mother. As the Supreme Court recognized in Roe v. Wade in 1973, this issue is complex and highly personal; the rights and lives of women must be taken into account. It is precisely this erosion of our constitutional rights that I warned against when I opposed the nominations of Chief Justice Roberts and Justice Alito.” [Emphasis added]

[In discussions like this, I always wonder about the rights and lives of the children, the most vulnerable and unwilling participant of this activity. In this case of PBA, we’re talking about a live baby that has it’s head all the way outside the mother’s body; or, in the case of a forced breach birth, has all of it’s body save it’s head outside the mother’s body. ]

Sam Brownback

“I am very pleased that the U.S. Supreme Court has ruled to uphold the ban on partial birth abortions. This ban was enacted to put an end to one of the most grotesque forms of abortion, and it is completely in line with the respect for life that is at the very heart of our Constitution. This is a great step forward for our nation’s citizens, born and unborn.” [Emphasis added]

Barak Obama

I strongly disagree with today’s Supreme Court ruling, which dramatically departs from previous precedents safeguarding the health of pregnant women. As Justice Ginsburg emphasized in her dissenting opinion, this ruling signals an alarming willingness on the part of the conservative majority to disregard its prior rulings respecting a woman’s medical concerns and the very personal decisions between a doctor and patient. I am extremely concerned that this ruling will embolden state legislatures to enact further measures to restrict a woman’s right to choose, and that the conservative Supreme Court justices will look for other opportunities to erode Roe v. Wade, which is established federal law and a matter of equal rights for women.” [Emphasis added]

[Please allow me a few questions Mr. Obama: Would it matter to you if the baby was “aborted” one hour after full delivery? Would it matter to you if a mother and father agreed to kill their 2-year old daughter because she was terribly inconvenient to their desired lifestyle, or because they realized they can’t love her the way a child deserves to be loved? Should the government interfere in the very personal decisions between parents? What if they asked a doctor to be involved? Should the presence of a doctor prevent the government’s interference in the very personal decisions between a doctor and patients. I wonder why I don’t ever hear about equal rights for the most vulnerable among us. ]

Tom Tancredo
Tancredo Applauds Supreme Court Decision to End Late Term Abortions

4/17/2007 Contact: Alan Moore 703.255.9898

(Washington, D.C.) Congressman Tom Tancredo (R- CO) rejoiced over today’s Supreme Court decision, ending partial birth abortions. In these abortions, usually performed late in a pregnancy, the infant’s skull is crushed and extracted from the womb.

Today the Supreme Court put an end to this barbaric practice of infanticide, Tancredo said. One can only hope this is the first step towards ending the tragedy of abortions.

This ruling, won by a 5-4 margin, is the first major victory for pro-life activists since Chief Justice John Roberts and Justice Samuel Alito were appointed to the Supreme Court. Both of them voted in the majority, along with Justices Clarence Thomas, Antonin Scalia, and Anthony Kennedy.

Congressman Tancredo concluded by saying, I am pleased the Court has finally begun to address the moral and intellectual travesty of Roe vs. Wade. [Emphasis added]

Mitt Romney

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE CONTACT: Kevin Madden (857) 288-6390

Boston, MA – Today, Governor Mitt Romney issued the following statement praising the U.S. Supreme Court ruling upholding the Partial Birth Abortion Ban Act:

“Today, our nation’s highest court reaffirmed the value of life in America by upholding a ban on a practice that offends basic human decency. This decision represents a step forward in protecting the weakest and most innocent among us.” [Emphasis added]

John McCain

For Immediate Release
April 18, 2007 Contact: Danny Diaz 703-650-5550

“Cherish The Sanctity Of Life:” Statement By Senator McCain

ARLINGTON, VA – U.S. Senator John McCain’s presidential campaign today released the following statement:

“Today’s Supreme Court ruling is a victory for those who cherish the sanctity of life and integrity of the judiciary. The ruling ensures that an unacceptable and unjustifiable practice will not be carried out on our innocent children. It also clearly speaks to the importance of nominating and confirming strict constructionist judges who interpret the law as it is written, and do not usurp the authority of Congress and state legislatures. As we move forward, it is critically important that our party continues to stand on the side of life.” [Emphasis added]

In reality, I don’t think there is any significant difference between a late-term partial birth abortion and a late-term enutero abortion. In both cases, a living child, has its life taken from it. I guess the PBA “seems” more ghastly because the child is so close to being outside the mother’s body, thus reaching the arbitrary point of medical and legal protection.

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