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Synagogue challenges Florida abortion law over religion

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP) — A new Florida law banning abortion after 15 weeks with some exceptions violates Jewish religious freedom rights in addition to the privacy protections of the state constitution, a synagogue claims in a trial.

The lawsuit filed by Congregation L’Dor Va-Dor of Boynton Beach argues that the law that takes effect July 1 violates Jewish teachings, which state that abortion “is required if necessary to protect the health, welfare, mental or physical being of the woman”. and for other reasons.

“As such, the law prohibits Jewish women from practicing their faith without government intrusion and this violates their right to privacy and religious freedom,” says the lawsuit, filed Friday in Leon County Circuit Court. .

What do you want to know

  • Synagogue files lawsuit against state of Florida
  • Suit says Florida abortion law violates Jewish teachings
  • Governor DeSantis’ office said it “is confident that this law will ultimately withstand all legal challenges.”

The lawsuit adds 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 on Jews.”

The lawsuit is the second challenge to the 15-week abortion ban enacted earlier this year by the legislature and signed into law by Republican Florida Governor Ron DeSantis. Planned Parenthood and other reproductive health providers also filed a lawsuit earlier this month to block the law from taking effect.

In a previous statement, DeSantis’ office said it “is confident that this law will ultimately withstand all legal challenges.”

The two lawsuits are likely to be consolidated into one case. A hearing on a proposed injunction to block Florida’s abortion law is likely within the next two weeks.

The law mirrors a similar measure passed in Mississippi that is now before the U.S. Supreme Court, which can use it to overturn the Roe v. Wade based on a leaked draft opinion. A final decision on Roe is expected by the end of June.

In Florida, Rabbi Barry Silver of congregation L’Dor Va-Dor – whose name means “from generation to generation” – said she practices “cosmic Judaism”, which he defines on the website of the synagogue as “the Judaism of tomorrow today” which respects science. , tradition and spirituality.

Silver is a lawyer, social activist and former Democratic state legislator who identifies himself as a “rabbi-rouser” on his own website. In an interview Tuesday, Silver said that when the separation of religion and government breaks down, religious minorities such as Jews often suffer.

“Every time that wall starts to crack, bad things start to happen,” he said, noting that DeSantis had signed the law at an evangelical Christian church.

Florida’s new abortion law contains exceptions if the abortion is necessary to save a mother’s life, prevent serious injury, or if the fetus has a life-threatening abnormality. It does not allow exemptions in cases where the pregnancies were caused by rape, incest or human trafficking.

Under current law, Florida allows abortions up to 24 weeks.

No faith is monolithic on the issue of abortion. Yet many followers of religions that do not prohibit abortion are dismayed that a view held by a minority of Americans could supersede their individual rights and religious beliefs, such as the position of Judaism as described in the court case.

“This decision would prohibit abortion where our religion allows us to do so,” said Rabbi Danya Ruttenberg, Scholar-in-Residence at the National Council of Jewish Women, “and it bases its concepts on when life begins on the someone else’s philosophy or theology.”