THE BLOG
07/08/2013 11:18 am ET | Updated Sep 07, 2013

Abortion: Does My Faith Get a Voice?

Though I've hesitated from doing so until this point, I'm going to reflect briefly on abortion. I am not going to engage in the conversation -- as a man -- of what women ought be permitted to, or prohibited from, doing with their bodies. The policy makers in Texas and North Carolina seem to have that well covered, tragically. Rather, I'm going to speak as a person of faith to my fellow brothers and sisters of faith. Please know this comes from a place of respect, love, and shared service to God.

You first need to know that I seriously admire your advocacy on behalf of life. To battle for deeply held convictions in this age is no small thing and deserves praise. You possess a (not THE) definition of what constitutes life and you won't back down from trying to defend it. There is much integrity to that consistency.

But, like all things religious, it is also potentially dangerous.

So this is the part I don't understand. Your definition of when life begins is not based on scientific fact. It is your religiously held belief. But it isn't mine.

My religious tradition -- which prioritizes life above all else -- generally assumes that potential life doesn't become its own living entity until 40 days into the pregnancy. And, for the entire pregnancy, the mother's life is always given priority. Right up until birth. (See Mishnah Ohalot, 7:6.) That includes both physical health, and even in certain cases (like rape), emotional health as well.

You may disagree with my religion's definition. That I understand and respect. But here's the rub: when you attempt to legislate what my community (or any community) can and can't do based on your faith's definition, you don't just simply disagree with me. You are saying, to be blunt, that your religion is correct and mine is incorrect -- coercively. That takes a considerable amount of hubris that isn't worthy of either of our faiths, or our great country's principles, for that matter. And that doesn't mean your opinion isn't relevant and shouldn't be part of our country's dialogue. Of course it should.

But when we both base our imperatives on religious values -- we need to recognize that that gives us no right to impose them on anyone else. I know you wouldn't want me to enforce my definition of life on you and your family. You'd fight that, even. If we truly value one another, as people of faith dedicated to the service of God, then we owe each other nothing less. Can we please agree to disagree and let faith communities dictate only to their own?