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Jews, Abortion, and Wichita’s Wailing Wall

A Jewish-themed anti-abortion monument grows in Kansas

Adam Chandler
July 17, 2012

Over at The National Review, Yuval Levin has a bone to pick with DNC Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz. In a post titled “Abortion as a Jewish Value,” Levin takes aim at her for an answer she gave during an interview with Jewish Life Television:

LEE LAZERSON: Has the president done anything wrong with respect to the Jewish vote?

DEBBIE WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: No. On the contrary, the president has an incredible record of support and advocacy on the issues, domestically, that Jews care about–fighting, for example, to make sure that women have the right to make their own reproductive choices; fighting to pass the Affordable Care Act, to make sure that being a woman is not a pre-existing condition, and that insurance companies can’t drop us or deny us coverage, making sure that we have access to affordable birth control without a deductible or a co-pay, while Mitt Romney and the Republicans fought to take us back to a time when we couldn’t make our own reproductive choices, when you didn’t have access to birth control. And we’re re-fighting the same cultural and social battles with the Republicans because they’re controlled by the extremists in the Tea Party. So President Obama’s earned the support of the Jewish community.

Following the quote, Levin quips:

Politicians used to insult Jewish voters by implying that all they cared about was Israel. Surely this is much worse.

Fortunately (h/t Dan Klein), I had a copy of the Public Religion Research Institute’s 2012 Jewish Values Report handy, which had to say this about Jewish attitudes on abortion:

American Jews are overwhelmingly in favor of abortion in all (49%) or most (44%) cases. There is little denominational or demographic variation on this level of overall support.

That’s 93%, folks. The report goes to explain that while opinions are more varied by political affiliation among Jews, over 75% of Jewish Republicans believe that abortion should be legal in all or most cases. From the data, it seems that Wasserman Schultz isn’t saying anything that isn’t reflective of the vast majority of Jewish opinion. In fact, it seems that access to abortion is the issue upon which the most Jews agree.

Now if Levin really wants to fret about the politicization of abortion and Judaism, I’m inviting him to fly to Wichita, Kansas. Just mere miles from the spot where Dr. George Tiller was shot in 1993 as well as the church where he was assassinated during Sunday morning services in 2009, evangelical pastors are building a full-sized exact replica of the Western Wall as part of The International Pro-Life Memorial and National Life Center.

The activists view the Western Wall as the embodiment of remembering Jewish suffering during the Holocaust. Now they want the wall, which they refer to by another of its names – the Wailing Wall, to memorialize the death of some 60 million fetuses killed by abortion.

Pundits used to insult Jewish readers by implying that all they cared about was Israel. Surely this is much worse.

Adam Chandler was previously a staff writer at Tablet. His work has appeared in the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, the Atlantic, Slate, Esquire, New York, and elsewhere. He tweets @allmychandler.