Analysis: New York State Declares War on Life

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By Rabbi Avrohom Gordimer

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, once known as a fairly conservative Democrat, has run full speed ahead into the winds of the far-left, “progressive” agenda. After being accused by gubernatorial challenger Cynthia Nixon of not being sufficiently progressive, Cuomo appears to be seeking to outdo New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, whose ultra-progressive agenda is totally destroying the city. (Please see here, and – if you have a tough stomach –  this new article is an absolute must-read as well.)

For decades, New York State allowed abortion until 24 weeks of pregnancy, and only when performed by a physician. Abortions performed in violation of the law were subject to criminal prosecution. As of this week, under Governor Cuomo’s brand-new Reproductive Health Act, late-term abortions may be performed literally until right before birth and even by non-doctors, and not only in order to save the mother’s life but also “to protect a patient’s health” – something defined quite broadly by the law’s own language, which endorses abortions at will, for no health reason whatsoever. (“Every individual who becomes pregnant has the fundamental right to choose to carry the pregnancy to term, to give birth to a child, or to have an abortion, pursuant to this article”). Furthermore, abortion performed in violation of the law (although it is hard to imagine that any abortions will now be illegal) has been removed from the New York State Criminal Code.

Decriminalizing illegal abortion is not a mere abstract formality. To quote one prominent news source:

Livia Abreu of the Bronx lost her baby in a 2018 domestic violence attack. Charges against her ex-boyfriend, Oscar Alvarez, include abortion in the first degree.

“The passing of RHA will exonerate him from those charges. I cannot imagine living in a world where harming or killing an unborn child is not a crime,” Abreu said.

New York State’s Reproductive Health Act, under the guise of progressiveness and liberality, is in truth a regressive act of intolerance toward the state’s religious communities. By sanctioning abortions literally until a moment prior to birth, in deference to women’s “right to choose”, and by decriminalizing illegal abortions, Governor Cuomo and his political allies have declared war on human life, which is a reflection of God’s image. This brazen offense to Biblical law and values and to the millions of New Yorkers who object to the Reproductive Health Act’s radical message speaks volumes about the state government’s respect for faith and human life.

The hypocrisy is biting. Progressive politics is used to serve special, liberal interests, whereas the sensitivities of large religious constituencies in the state who oppose this new law are trampled upon without comment.

But worse is the offense to Biblical morality, which protects the unborn. New York State has in effect asserted that a woman’s convenience and whim are more important than taking the life of another. Have any of the politicians who supported this law ever really thought about this, or have they brushed this concern under the carpet in their idolatrous quest to satisfy every senseless progressive goal?

But let us go a bit deeper. It is not only Cuomo and his allies who are to blame for this unprecedented assault on religion. In fact, the blame in large measure lies on the religious communities themselves.

With the glaring exception of Brooklyn New York State Senator Simcha Felder, who votes Republican in line with his district’s Orthodox Jewish constituency, other regions of the state which are comprised of religious communities are frequently represented by liberal Democrats (!). A quick look at New York State’s legislative districts and their elected representatives underscores this fact, which is a given for us New Yorkers. For whatever (insane) reason, most New Yorkers continue by rote to elect liberal Democrats, irrespective of the Democratic candidates’ values. Case in point: Even the vile socialist Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez hails from a heavily Catholic district (New York’s District 14); although the district is not overwhelmingly religious, it has heavy pockets of regular worshippers in its quite numerous houses of prayer, as well as those who take their religion in general very seriously. So too for the so many other New York districts, comprised of various religious communities, that are woefully represented by progressive Democrats.

It is time for people of religious conviction to take their conviction to the poll booths and make seismic political change. Rather than voting by rote, religious people must start to vote with their minds and hearts. Otherwise, they can only blame themselves for the retched results of the progressive political machine. In the case at hand, it is a documented fact that the Reproductive Health Act was passed by the votes of Democrats from religious-oriented districts.

We conclude with the words of one of American Jewry’s greatest sages, Rabbi Joseph B. Soloveitchik, who stated concerning abortion:

If the sinfulness of murder were only a result of our moral judgment, then why not permit abortions? As a matter of fact, it happens in modern society. Abortion is murder according to Jewish Law. The fetus is alive. The liberals of today don’t like that position.  The liberals of today have simply lost the criterion of morality, what is moral and what is immoral; they are absolutely confused and perplexed.

“A fertilized ovum, after it has lived for forty or fifty days, is a living organism. Potentially, it has everything that a human being at the age of forty possesses… But if human conscience is the judge, then of course inconvenience on the part of the mother is more important than the extinction of life. The human psyche does not find abortion as repugnant as the killing of a child. But if the Almighty is the judge, we refrain from murder not because the act is abominable, but because we abide by His Will, then abortion is murder.

“If murder is based solely on moral reasonableness and sensitivity, then why not allow euthanasia? Left to its own conscience, society, little by little, simply destroys the very fabric of its morality. Why not kill a person who is suffering from an incurable disease? If euthanasia is permitted, then the road to murder is open.

“Rabbi Akiva maintained that man must not rely solely on his own morals and sensitivities, even pertaining to religious commandments whose moral message we feel that we understand. Certain areas are not accessible to human moral exploration and illumination…

“That is the basic reason why secular ethics has failed. Because the element of adherence to an objective Divine Command is not comprehensible to secular man. When everything is reduced to religious commandments whose moral message we feel that we understand, there (in truth) is no morality.”

“I can never predict what modern society will come up with. Everything is possible. The most abnormal, obnoxious, repellent ideas may be introduced in the form of legislation to Congress. And now, since it is modern to be liberal, it’s quite in vogue to be heretical, so any law can be adopted. The Supreme Court in America is the most unpredictable body. Did you see, did you read carefully, the decision about abortion? (Roe vs. Wade)…

“The birth of every child is an important event for the mother. The birth of the first child is the greatest and most cathartic experience for a mother, if a woman is ready to be a mother. Being a mother is not simple. It is a physiological relationship, a psychological  relationship, a spiritual relationship. More than that, it is a metaphysical relationship – somehow complete identification between mother and child.

“That is why I cannot understand it, I cannot grasp it, to me it is something vulgar, this clamor of the liberals that abortion be permitted. It’s not a clamor anymore – it’s a legislated fact.

“How can a mother kill her baby? I can’t understand it, I cannot grasp it…

“I consider the society of today as insane. Not sick, but insane… If you kill the fetus, a time will come when even infants will be killed. The mother will get frightened after the baby will be born. Usually the mother expresses certain stages of depression after the birth of a baby. So she comes to the doctor, a psychiatrist this time, and the doctor will say her life depends upon the murder of the baby. And you have a word, ‘mental hygiene’ – whatever you want you can subsume under mental hygiene…

“I don’t know the difference if you’re killing an infant one day old or at birth, or killing a fetus which is three months old…

This article originally appeared in American Thinker.

Avrohom Gordimer is chairman of the Rabbinic Circle at Coalition for Jewish Values, a public policy institute reflecting traditional Jewish thought. He serves on the editorial board of Jewish Action magazine, is a staff writer for the Cross-Currents website, and is a frequent contributor to Israel National News, Yated Ne’eman, and a host of other publications. He is a member of the Rabbinical Council of America and the New York Bar, and he works as an account executive at a large Jewish organization based in Manhattan. The views expressed in the above article are solely those of the writer.



  1. This has happened because the Jewish community (religious) views all political questions through the lens of what is good for getting money for yeshivos, etc. Larger questions are ignored if the candidates promise money. Now we are stuck with Cuomo and DeBlasio and soon we will have a “progressive” president and congress. What will the religious comnmunity do when Shechitah, Bris Milah and Mechitzos in shuls are outlawed. And don’t argue that they are protected by the the 1st amendment. That will be interpreted as necessary to allow for bans on these things. As this article points out, it’s time of religious people (Jews, Catholics, Muslims) to take their religious beliefs into the voting booth.

  2. Once again, as people are stunned by the brazenness and enormity of the assault on faith and tradition now underway upstate, Rabbi Gordimer shlit”a has eloquently, in his typical sophisticated manner, incisively diagnosed the problem, and, like the Biblical Abraham, verbally smashed to smithereens the prevailing idolatry.

    May G-d watch over and bless this Abraham, and may his words be heard and impact far beyond what might be his typical audience in this time of crisis. May the G-d fearing residents of New York be somehow spared from the nightmare of from Sodom on the Hudson, and from ensuing Divine wrath (Sandy was only a few years ago and that is not the only example of difficulty NY has faced in recent times), may G-d have mercy upon us.

    חזק ואמץ רב אברהם שליט”א

  3. Thank you Rabbi. This is truly a very sad day in the State of New York. Wickedness and sinfulness have become the norm. It’s all nice and good that our so-called askanim are all busy with the upcoming Siyum Hashas and finishing chelek gimel in mishna berura. Wonderful. Keep celebrating. Make sure the band is good and have a great performer. But where is their achrayus to fight for morality??? Why the silence? Aren’t we the am nivchar? Aren’t WE supposed to be the light unto the Nations? Why do we always have to rely on the Catholics and Christians to speak out? Where are OUR representatives??? If god forbid some little kid scribbles a swastika on his test paper, OMG, the askanim go crazy with statements and non stop press conferences. Meetings with the Mayor and Governor. But when the State WE pay taxes in pass hashchasa laws (be it gay marriage, late term abortion, transgender rights), we’ve become as quiet as a sleeping lamb. We don’t want to rock the boat. We’re in galus. Shaa shtill. It doesn’t really affect us. And other nonsense immature lazy statements. The silence and lack of leadership by our self proclaimed askanim is a Chillul Hashem of the highest order and I pity them after 120. The Chofetz Chaim wouldn’t of remained silent.

  4. The same cruel politicians who are advocating murdering babies up to birth claim that having a wall is immoral. How do they explain this?

  5. Rabbi Gordimer,

    Can you describe the exact wording of the abortion law that you would support ?
    What if later in the pregnancy, the baby is found to have health issues ?

  6. I just heard on the radio (AM 970 in the NYC area), that a number of Catholic bishops have called for the excommunication of NY Gov. Cuomo.

    And indeed, one can see multiple stories related to it online, e.g.

    He should have been excommunicated years ago when he rammed toeivah ‘marriage’ through the legislature.

    • While we should stay out of the affairs of catholic clergy and their bishops and their excommunications – lest they have extra excuses to justify intruding in our business, which they love doing – I could not care less about whom they excommunicate and why.

      Besides, probably they also have “excommunicated” us all. Don’t you think?

      • The point is that even his Cuomo’s fellow Catholics are outraged at his extreme actions.

        It is not just us who are appalled and outraged.

        • They would be equally appalled and outraged at something which is halachically permissible but goes against their religious guidelines. They attribute no legitimacy to other religions, much less to the “old testament”. Wake up and smell the ….

          • No, the extreme nature of the Liberal assault this year is a lot greater, and therefore there is a much greater reaction against it now.

  7. Rabbi Gordimer this is what your keep yourself busy with? whether goyim abort or not? have you ever written an article about the flippant attitude about Jewish kids life or death without yeshivas?
    focus on your own backyard!

    • Everyone knows today that pollution is a dangerous threat.

      Polluted air can, and has, killed many people.

      When the air of a state is polluted by immorality and improper legislation, it is a threat to our health like air pollution is.

      Yes, some people might claim things are okay, like the people who scoffed at the notion, breathing in asbestos and cigarette smoke for years, and then later paid a heavy price for their cavalier attitude, ה’ ירחם.

      • and how does abortion have anything todo with immorality? let’s say a posek rules an abortion can be performed but the state rules no. whose side do you pick? because it seems you picked the side that doesnt leave abortion open as a option!

  8. rabbi how about leave the politics out of it. let’s be honest. if a posek allows a abortion but the laws of the state say no abortion what is your opinion.

  9. how does this law trample anybody’s rights? those who are against abortion wont do abortion and those for it will. so how exactly is loosening abortion rights trampling the rights of religion?

    • Thank you Esav. You’ve made your same immature point several times now. You keep bringing up the exception to the rule. The Governor is not passing this law in order to save a mothers life. That is the furthest thing from his evil mind. He wants any selfish self aggrandizing female to be able to murder her baby because of convenience, or lack thereof. This is all part of his plan to run for President in 2024. He will then be able to appeal to the hard left and feminist movement that, hey I passed gay marriage. I passed partial birth abortion. I made reading Heather has 2 mommies a mandatory reading in our public schools. I made NY a sanctuary State. Vote for me and I’ll guarantee to make these hashchasa laws the laws of the Country.
      I’m sure if you were around during Noach’s time, you would also find excuses why that generation was so great and ehrlich and Noach was an extremist.

      • very nice. calling somebody esav talk about acting childish. curious whats your opinion on a young jewish girl who gets pregnant before marriage should they abort? do you really think it doesnt happen? what about using the pill while married what’s your opinion?
        what about the day after pill?

        what’s your opinion on ifv. is it against halacha?

  10. how does this law trample anybody’s rights? those who are against abortion wont do abortion and those for it will. so how exactly is loosening abortion rights trampling the rights of religion? it’s funny everybody up in arms about abortion what do peope pretend to give a damn. do you care about a rochal (or sara etc.) thrown out of beis yacov because of a rumour do you care about mordechai or ( sruli etc.)because he is expelled for being caught in a hangout?
    but continue to get all bent out of shape and pretend like you give a damn!

  11. Read (or re-read) R. Gordimer’s article carefully.

    His carefully crafted argument answers questions some people are raising here.

    Cuomo and the NYS legislature has basically not just opened the door a bit, or even just halfway, it has blown the door off entirely, and thrown the remains away. A recipe for real hefkeirus.

  12. In ignoring the Halachik issues, mainly the widely accepted lenient views about when abortion is permitted, Gordimer grossly overstates his moral case. That’s pretty typical of him though.

        • You are conjuring up a nightmare scenario which is in the realm of fantasty.

          There is already sufficient latitude and discretion in the law and among the authorities to deal with such a situation. Did you ever hear of people getting into trouble due to such a case in the jurisdiction under discussion?

          It is a scare tactic lacking basis in reality.

          To throw out the baby with the bathwater is not the way to go.

  13. I am not a catholic. Let catholics fight their battle, which is imposing their own view onto others via legislation.
    Perhaps those who are so passionate about life should devote forces e.g. to hospitals where unsuspecting and costly patients are “accompanied” towards exitus (death) by measures which are acceptable according to xian religions. To this end patients and their families are deceived and lied to. Of course patients who bring in a handsome profit get the unneeded surgeries, the million dollar funeral and all that.
    BTW I am very surprised that people are incensed at whatever books are read in public school. It should go without saying that no Jewish child should attend public school. Yet, if we want freedom of education, we must respect other people’s.

  14. We are Jews. We believe we are the chosen people. We do not force people into our religion. If they want to join, they must follow the rules. Personally, I believe a woman should have the right to choose what happens with her own body, but I respect that some may disagree with this on halachic and religious lines. However, we don’t impose our rules on others. That’s not how Jews do things. And America has separation of church and state. That’s not how America does things. So I’m a little confused what the issue is everyone has with this law. If you’re ideologically opposed to an abortion, don’t get one. But I’m not sure it’s any of our business what women we don’t know do with their bodies.

    • Just weeks ago,” added Rabbi Steven Pruzansky, East Coast Regional Vice President of the CJV, “Israel was shocked when a terrorist shot a young expectant mother in her abdomen, leading to the death of her baby. An entire country mourned for what New York State would have us believe was a matter of no consequence. Under the guise of progressivism, New York is taking us back to a primitive age when infanticide was also accepted — and the fact that these ‘progressives’ want to take up euthanasia next should surprise no one.”

    • Wrong, we do force Sheva mitzvos if possible.

      PS in 1950 all states banned abortion except in outstanding cases, so don’t bring up American based arguments either.

  15. י[ “שמעתי מהגה”צ הגרא”א דסלר זצ”ל, שבעת השואה האיומה כאשר

    צדיקים וקדושי עליון נחנקו ונהרגו בעינויים קשים יחד עם רבבות מעם

    ישראל שנזרקו לתוך כבשן האש, אז שאלו כולם “איפה אלוקיך ישראל”

    ואיך הקב”ה מיצר כל כך אפילו לצדיקים וקדושי עליון, וביאר אז הגרא”א

    דסלר זצ”ל, שנכון שהיו הרבה צדיקים וחרדים, אבל לא דאגו לשמירת הדת

    של אחרים ולא מחו ברשעים מספיק, ועל זה הקב”ה מאוד בחרון אף

    וכמוש”כ בחטא העגל “ואנכי אסתר אסתיר את פני בעת ההיא”, ובביאור

    תוכן העניין, אמר הרב דסלר זצ”ל, שזהו מידה כנגד מידה, שהקב”ה אומר

    “אתם לא מחיתם ולא התערבתם למחות על החילול ה’, אז גם אני לא

    מתערב למנוע את האויבים מלהרוג בכם”, רח”ל

  16. When R’ Boruch Ber came to New York in 1929 he was greeted by Mayor Walker. The mayor asked him “what can I do for you Rabbi?”
    His prompt response [in Yiddish] was ‘Separate the males and females at the beaches.’
    He did not ask him for special favors for the Jewish community or e.g. “religious liberty” for religious Jews in the workplace..
    Leaving aside the concept of Ohr lagoyim
    And the abandonment our role as descendants of Avraham Avinu who taught all the people of the world and preferring to follow the role of Noach who only cared for themselves “tzaddik in peltz”

    Are we filing chap.11 on our mission?

  17. DBS,et al
    a.There is a special rule for yiddenes Even if it would be applicable which it isn’t
    b.Nitpick & fritter to your heart’s content
    What does it say about
    רבי זכריה בן אבקולס
    & others
    And of what they bear culpability
    When would NY be deemed a land of Borderline Shmad
    as per
    Igeres Teiman

  18. Anon, Nussbaum, et al
    In the ’30s Fascism wasn’t directly our business, why go get involved?
    In the ’50s Communism wasn’t directly our business, why go get involved?
    Prior to that, Jim Crow and slavery wasn’t directly our business, why go get involved?
    Should the United States and for what it stands just close up?!


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