Into a world not so far away where birth control is forbidden and it is not uncommon for women to have eight children in eight years, the outside world has crept in with a vengeance. That’s right – the financial crisis is making more and more haredi (ultra-Orthodox) women seek abortions because they and many others cannot afford another mouth to feed.
The strict and ever-evolving interpretations of Jewish law in haredi communities prohibit any form of birth control, including condom use, the pill, and abortion. Reproductive rights are completely taken away by the male rabbis who do not have to experience the repercussions of unplanned pregnancies. Haredi communities, which are insular and low-income (many of the men replace paying jobs with full-time study) have the some of the highest birth rates proportional to their populations in the world.
The rabbis that govern these communities are actively anti-choice. The chairman of Efrat, an anti-choice organization of rabbis that claim to “have the power to bring another child into the world,” states,
“Since the beginning of the financial crisis there has been an increase in the number of women opting for abortions, including religious and haredi women who can’t bear the costs of raising another child.”
The all-male staff of Efrat believe that women do not want to have the abortions and they are being coerced to do so by their husbands. They claim to advocate for women’s rights in order to take them away.
Efrat says, “One can suffer mental and emotional disability for the rest of their lives, the cost of which is heavier than that of financial distress. Many turn to us after the abortion and relate the suffering they have endured. They are sorry they succumbed to a husband who threatened to divorce or leave them.”
All women deserve the basic human right of reproductive choice. Just as they should have access to the preventive measures that would eliminate the need for an abortion in the first place (i.e. birth control), they should also have access to abortions. It’s all part of the right to choose.