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The Busted Halo Question Box
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This is the place where you can ask all of those burning questions that you wouldn't dare ask in person. We will post questions here (using your byline only with permission); we guarantee an answer to everyone.

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Caitlin Kennell Kim
Fr. Rick Malloy, SJ
General Questions
Fr. Tom Ryan, CSP
Ecumenical, Interfaith
Neela Kale
Culture, Moral Theology
Ann Naffziger, M.A., M.Div.
Mike Hayes
Our readers asked:

Is Judaism Pro-choice or Pro-life?

Thomas Ryan, CSP Answers:

The answer is neither and both. Judaism strongly opposes the wanton destruction of a fetus and at the same time permits abortion in a range of circumstances and therefore champions the civil rights that allow the Jewish legal decision-making process to operate freely. It is for this reason that in the United States, Jewish leaders have favored leniency in the law at the expense of a religiously-driven agenda.

The system of Jewish law, “halachah,” is not easily given to grand public policy decisions. It is more the sum of its parts, the collective works of rabbinic authorities produced throughout the generations. The focus of Jewish law is not to determine the rights of the individual, but rather to determine which is the correct course of action in each unique situation.

The decision by Jewish organizations to support, oppose, or remain neutral in a dispute where certain people desire to expand their civil rights is not determined solely by whether the group under discussion is one generally in compliance with Jewish law or morality. Jews feel that it is in the best interests of Judaism to support the continued granting of basic civil rights to all, while making clear their own moral opposition to the underlying conduct of those who exercise their freedom in violation of basic ethical norms of Judaism. Indeed, the record is full of even Orthodox Jewish organizations advocating support for religions and beliefs that are completely foreign to Jewish law or ethics

The Author : Thomas Ryan, CSP
Fr. Tom Ryan, CSP, directs the Paulist North American Office for Ecumenical and Interfaith Relations in Washington, D.C.
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