Letters | Feb. 15, 2019



The Abortion Issue

The RCA and Agudah are being disingenuous (“Orthodox Rabbis Compare Abortion to Murder — And Orthodox Women Are Angry About It,” Feb. 8). The bottom line is if abortion constituted murder, the accidental death of a fetus (Exodus 21:23) would cause the perpetrator to flee to a refuge city, which is not the case. Check out (Talmud) Arachin 7a-b, or S.R. Cohen’s excellent JT column, “Judaism Takes Middle Ground on Abortion” (July 3, 2018).

The JTA article points out that today is “a time when the Orthodox Jewish world is moving to the right politically and voting along the same lines as conservative Christian communities.”

The word for this development is assimilation. And it is taking place not just politically, but also culturally, as
evidenced by the anti-evolution and anti-vaccination stances that have intensified in various Orthodox — and especially ultra-Orthodox — circles.

Indeed, the late Rabbi Moshe Feinstein, who was the leading decisor in American Orthodox circles in the latter half of the 20th century, is quoted as having said that “we can’t afford to have the Church outflank us from the right on this issue (of abortion).” Hence his stringent approach to this subject, cognizing it more as a policy matter than a strictly exegetical one.

Rachmiel Gottlieb


Md. Legislators Ahead of EPA

Trump’s State of the Union address included statements to fight to end HIV/AIDS and childhood cancer, and everyone can support that. However, the president’s actions are at odds with those pledges and sound health policy. The Environment Protection Agency (EPA) could easily be renamed the “Environmental Pollution Agency.” Under Trump appointees Scott Pruitt and now Andrew Wheeler, that agency has rolled back policies that protect the environment (and us), and it has essentially stopped enforcing existing rules.

For example, the EPA continues to allow use of chlorpyrifos, an organophosphate insecticide, despite the overwhelming evidence that it harms the workers who apply it to crops, the Chesapeake Bay and the animals that live in it, and the bees and other pollinators that are dying off at a rapid rate. Worse, it is especially toxic to children at all stages of development. If the president really cares about children, pre-born and post-womb, he’d order the EPA to change its ways.

Fortunately, Maryland state legislators are stepping up. Del. Dana Stein and Sen. Shirley Nathan-Pulliam are sponsoring legislation (HB275 and SB270) to ban the use of chlorpyrifos in Maryland. We should support that effort.

Dan Morhaim, M.D.

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