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Synagogue sues Florida over 15-week abortion ban, says it violates religious freedom

Synagogue sues Florida over 15-week abortion ban, says it violates religious freedom

According to Jewish law, abortion is required if necessary to protect the health, mental or physical well-being of a pregnant woman.

A synagogue is suing the state of Florida for restricting abortions and violating religious freedoms. According to Jewish law, abortion “is required if necessary to protect the health, mental or physical well-being” of a pregnant woman. A South Florida congregation is now contending that the state law restricting abortion violates their religious freedom. The state is being sued after governor Ron DeSantis signed into law a bill that banned most abortions after 15 weeks. The anti-abortion movement is propelled by Christian conservatives and the movement is now facing a challenge for potential violation of religious freedom. The lawsuit was filed by Congregation L’Dor Va-Dor, a progressive synagogue in Palm Beach County, reported New York Times.



 


"The act prohibits Jewish women from practicing their faith free of government intrusion and this violates their privacy rights and religious freedom," reads the lawsuit that was filed Friday in Leon County Circuit Court. The lawsuit states that people who "do not share the religious views reflected in the act will suffer" and that it "threatens the Jewish people by imposing the laws of other religions upon Jews." Reproductive health providers including Planned Parenthood have also sued to block the law from taking effect from July 1 and it is likely that the lawsuits will be consolidated with a hearing on a proposed injunction likely in the next two weeks. DeSantis' office has maintained that it "is confident that this law will ultimately withstand all legal challenges," reported NPR.



 

Rabbi Barry Silver said the Congregation L'Dor Va-Dor respects science, tradition and spirituality. The synagogue's website states that it practices "the Judaism of tomorrow today." Silver, who's an attorney and social activist is also a former Democratic state legislator. He lamented that the separation of religion and government was eroding slowly. "Every time that wall starts to crack, bad things start to happen," he said, pointing out that DeSantis signed the law at an evangelical Christian church. Florida's restrictive abortion law only contains exceptions in cases where the mother's life is at risk or if the fetus has a fatal abnormality. The law does not contain exemptions where pregnancies are caused by rape, incest or human trafficking. "This ruling would be outlawing abortion in cases when our religion would permit us," said Rabbi Danya Ruttenberg, scholar in residence at the National Council of Jewish Women.

WASHINGTON, DC - JANUARY 22: Sam Goldman of Refuse Fascism speaks at a rally put on by the "Rise Up 4 Abortion Rights" group in front of the U.S. Supreme Court on January 22, 2022, in Washington, DC. (Photo by Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images)

 

The Supreme Court will revisit Roe v. Wade judgment but a leaked opinion of the court earlier this year revealed that it was ready to vote to strike down the judgment, reported POLITICO. “Roe was egregiously wrong from the start,” wrote Justice Samuel Alito. “We hold that Roe and Casey must be overruled. It is time to heed the Constitution and return the issue of abortion to the people’s elected representatives.” This comes at a time when states with conservative majorities are passing bills to restrict access to abortion. The anti-abortion law passed in Texas encourages vigilantism by rewarding civilians $10,000 for successful lawsuits against anyone who "aids and abets" a woman who gets an abortion after fetal activity can be detected. "A physician who made that determination in the moment would be doing so knowing that if someone second-guessed their judgment, [anyone] could file a lawsuit saying that you violated SB 8," said Molly Duane, an attorney with the Center for Reproductive Rights, reported NPR. Duane said healthcare providers are "extremely and understandably fearful" of providing abortions, even in medical emergencies, because of the way the law is written.

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