Inquiries about Agudath Israel positions and activities regularly land in Rabbi Avi Shafran’s inbox. So do commendations... and complaints.
A recent example of the latter was an email about a new law in Texas banning very early-stage abortions -- one of a number of so-called “heartbeat laws,” which forbid the procedure as soon as a rudimentary heartbeat of a fetus can be detected.
The writer was “upset and disturbed” by the fact that Agudath Israel hadn’t sought to intervene in the passage of the Texas law. The writer noted that there are cases when a posek might see a threat to the life of a mother that isn’t so regarded by physicians, and thus the posek would mandate the ending, R”l, of a pregnancy. The Texas law has no religious exemption clause.
Rabbi Shafran explained that, indeed, over many years, while the Agudah has supported legislation limiting the current right to abortion, it has always taken pains, in legislatures and courts, to stress that it can only support such laws if they include a religious exemption clause.
He went on to point out that the “heartbeat laws” and the larger issue of abortion are bound to end up before the U.S. Supreme Court, likely in the near future. That, he explained, will be the meaningful opportunity, when the justices may revisit the Supreme Court’s famous 1973 Roe v. Wade decision, for the Agudah to communicate its position clearly to the Court.