16 February 2016
Liberal Judaism’s senior rabbi, Rabbi Danny Rich, could be heard this weekend on radio throughout the UK speaking up for a woman’s right to choose.
Danny spoke to seven different radio stations, supporting the right of women in Northern Ireland to have access to abortion and supporting the decriminalisation of ‘self-induced’ abortions throughout the UK.
Danny was interviewed on radio in the West Midlands, Northampton, Cornwall, Sheffield, Guernsey, Oxford and Kent.
His intervention followed last week’s rejection by Northern Ireland’s Stormont Assembly to allow terminations in cases of rape and incest, or where foetus cannot survive outside womb.
At present, under a 19th-century law, medical teams in Northern Ireland could be sentenced to life in prison for carrying out abortions even under these circumstances. Currently, a termination is only permitted in Northern Ireland if a woman’s life is at risk or if there is a risk of permanent and serious damage to her mental or physical health.
Stormont Assembly members voted 59 to 40 against amending the legislation. One commentator put the result down to “the traditional alliance of Catholic and Protestant conservatism, plus election anxiety and anti-choice lobbying”.
Speaking today, Danny said: “Religion can and should be first and foremost compassionate, putting the needs of individuals before doctrine and dogma.
“I am horrified by the idea that people would seek to compel a woman to give birth to the child of a man who has raped her. Unless that woman is able to choose the right route for herself then we are compounding the original tragedy and placing both mother and child in an impossible position.
“That that should be done in the name of religion, I find a strange perversion of the values of caring and compassion which should underpin all faith which seeks to maintain its relevance to the modern world.”
Danny added: “Women need a genuine choice at this difficult time. The criminal law is not the appropriate way.”
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