Through a Jewish Lens: An Argument for Safe, Legal Abortion

Congressman Lee Zeldin has represented New York's 1st congressional district in the United States House of Representatives since 2015.

Dear Congressman Zeldin,

My name is Madisen Siegel. I am an 18-year- old, soon-to-be-registered voter in the first district of New York. As one of your constituents, and a young adult who just moved to New York–fresh from the malls and suburbia of northern New Jersey–I am concerned about your stance on healthcare, and I am asking you to re-think your position, especially when it comes to abortion.

In May 2015, you voted in favor of H.R. 36, a bill that would prohibit abortions of fetuses at 20 weeks or later, and incriminate doctors who violate the law. Later that year, in September, you voted to defund Planned Parenthood unless the organization stopped providing abortions. Lastly, on May 4th of this year, you voted to repeal the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare, and to pass President Trump and Speaker Ryan’s American Health Care Act (AHCA). It is clear from your actions over the past few years that you support a more conservative approach to federal healthcare, with a distinct opposition to abortions.

I strongly believe that women deserve the right to accessible, affordable, and safe abortions. The healthcare plan put in place by President Obama ensured just that, with most insurance carriers covering elective abortions in the state of New York. However, the health care bill that you have shown clear support for severely limits the availability of abortion services. According to an analysis by NPR, the GOP’s American Health Care Act will significantly reduce the number of people who are able to buy plans that cover abortions. Additionally, federal tax credits cannot be used towards institutions that perform abortions or help with insurance plans that include abortions. The end result? Abortions become “more expensive” and “difficult” to access. In an article for Vice News, Janel George, director of federal reproductive rights and health for the National Women’s Law Center, agrees. George comments that the ACHA is essentially “trying to end private health insurance coverage of abortions.” 

It is clear that the AHCA makes it more difficult for American women to get safe abortions. While religious beliefs are often used as justification for opposing abortions, my faith–Judaism–does the opposite: it supports the choice to have an abortion. In Jewish law, a fetus is not considered a full person until it is actually born. Simply put, a fetus acquires the rights of a real person at childbirth. Over the centuries, numerous sections of Talmud and interpretations from Rabbis and commentators like Rashi support this belief. If the continued growth of the child threatens the health of the mother, or in the cases of incest or rape, abortions are undeniably acceptable in the Jewish faith.

Congressman Zeldin, we share one thing in common: we are both Jewish and understand what it’s like to be in the minority. In the House of Representatives there are merely 18 members who identify as Jewish, out of a total of 435 seats. In the Senate, 9 of 100 Senators are Jewish. As a Congressman, it is important for you to accurately represent your constituents and their beliefs. As one of very few Jewish members of government, I strongly urge you to take this into consideration when deciding your views on healthcare and ACHA’s effect on abortion accessibility.


Madisen Siegel

This piece was written as part of JWA’s Rising Voices Fellowship.

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How to cite this page

Siegel, Madisen. "Through a Jewish Lens: An Argument for Safe, Legal Abortion." 9 June 2017. Jewish Women's Archive. (Viewed on April 13, 2024) <>.