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Rca Urges State Legislature, Supreme Court to Study Social Effect of High Court’s Ruling on Abortion

January 31, 1973
See Original Daily Bulletin From This Date

The Rabbinical Council of America today deplored the Supreme Court ruling on abortions. Meeting here in midwinter session, the 500 delegates called on the New York State legislature to name a special study commission composed of doctors, legal and religious leaders and representatives of womens groups to study the problem of legalized abortion in terms of its social implications.

Elaborating on this theme Rabbi Fabian Schonfeld of New York, first vice-president of the RCA, said “we accept the high court’s decision even if we disagree with its wisdom. As religious leaders, however, we must continue to teach the moral imperative and religious dictates which frown upon the taking of the life of fetuses even during this early period.” On the other hand, he noted, “it is important that we examine the social implications of the unlimited practice of abortion and the impact it will have upon our society.”

Rabbi Schonfeld asserted that current figures indicate more than 600,000 abortions were performed last year and that the number of abortions this year is expected to be closer to 1.5 million “Will the decision of the high court create a climate for additional permissiveness?” he asked. Rabbi Schonfeld suggested that the Supreme Court study this possibility and also the effect of its abortion ruling on the psychology and morality of the American people.


In a symposium on Orthodox Jewry and political activism, a group of leaders agreed that the religious community has a right, even a duty, to involve itself in the political process for the purpose of creating conditions conducive to the free exercise of religious rights for the protection of vital religious concerns.

Rabbi Walter Wurzburger editor of Tradition, said “the religious community has the responsibility to promote the social and economic well-being of all humanity, to protect the dignity of people and their right to privacy and that religious bodies must seek to promote peace through political action.” Similarly, he continued, religious bodies must also involve themselves In obtaining legislation in support of education and the protection of religious practices, specifically, the rights of Sabbath observers to be protected against all economic discrimination in the public and private sectors.

Julius Berman, vice-president of the Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations, observing that “the rights of the Jewish Orthodox community are constantly being challenged these days, declared that “it must convert its tremendous latent capacities into a dynamic political force in order to preserve its status.” Berman, a New York attorney and a member of the Board of Directors of the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, added, “The Orthodox community looks to its rabbinical leaders to be in the vanguard of this momentous effort to preserve our rights.”

Rabbi Wurzburger stressed, however, that “religious bodies must not be allowed to be used for political purposes.” He said that Involvement is Justified “only to the extent that it attains religious ideals” and warned that it is a “disaster of the first magnitude” when religious bodies or leaders use their standing for purely secular or selfish interests.

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