The James Wilson Foundation on Natural Rights and the American Founding

Jewish Pro Life Foundation Issues Statement Coauthored by Rabbi David Novak

James Wilson Institute friend Rabbi David Novak coauthored a recent statement by the Jewish Pro Life Foundation (JPLF) in response to the National Council of Jewish Women’s (NCJW) statement “The Jewish Case for Abortion Rights.” Rabbi Novak and his JPLF colleagues argue that a “right to abortion” finds no basis in the Torah and conflicts with the traditional Jewish understanding of rights and obligations in how people relate to each other. The JPLF further called on Jews to ally with Christians who are standing against abortion by acknowledging the common root of both religious communities’ objection to abortion in the Torah. JWI’s founder and director Prof. Hadley Arkes described the statement as “nothing less than magnificent,” writing to Rabbi Novak:

It’s not only…important in making the argument on abortion,  but you deal also with the corrupted tendency, long settling in, to overlook the Jewish moral foundation of Christianity and to tag the opposition to abortion as the distinct Christian villainy of our time. And of course, this quite flies past any recognition that the argument on abortion has been an argument with the principled reasoning of the natural law–that it’s a weave of embryology and principled reasoning.  The argument can be understood on the grounds of reason, but fortified with the convictions drawn from revelation about the dignity and sanctity of human life, and of course, the injunction, “choose life.”

The full statement is available below:

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Law and liberty cannot rationally become the objects of our love, unless they first become the objects of our knowledge.
— James Wilson, Lectures on Law, 1790