Sohail Chaudhry, imam of the Islamic Center, said, “According to the Islamic perspective, the fourth month of pregnancy is the critical period because, according to Islam, that is when the angel blows in the spirit in the body. After the fourth month, it’s no longer just a body, it becomes a human being. So, anything you’re going to do after the fourth month is going to be a big issue, definitely it would be forbidden. Abortion would be forbidden after the fourth month unless you are in a life threatening situation where the mother’s life needs to be saved or some medical emergency occurs due to which abortion needs to take place. Before the fourth month there is a little bit of a difference of opinion. Once again the preferred position is not to go that route because you are messing up nature—let things happen naturally—whenever you try to intervene and try to do things that are not natural Islam says that you’re going to mess up things.”
Chaudhry said, “If this funding has to do with the health of women and their care and the facilities which are provided to them, then absolutely. Islam and the Muslims would say we need to have this funding available and we shouldn’t cut this off because if it is affecting lives, if it is affecting health then we provide the health and we provide the funds, we provide the facilities. This has nothing to do with the moral question of whether abortion is OK or not. Whether it’s okay or not is one thing and then to force an opinion on people by cutting off their funding is a completely different thing.”
Katie Diller, director of student outreach at St. John Catholic Church, had a similar opinion. She said, “Both me, personally, and the Catholic Church are both dedicated to being pro-life. Our dedication to being pro-life is not just about pregnancy it’s about what we call the seamless garment of ethics which means that we believe that life is precious from conception until natural death. We do not support the death penalty in any case. We do not support euthanasia of elderly people or very sick people. We basically believe that all human life is precious and the we should also do everything in our capability, not just individually, yes individually, but also as a community and as a culture to support people who are in positions that are difficult and are tragic in some circumstances.”
In contrast to Chaudhry’s view on a possible cut in funds to Planned Parenthood, Diller said, “I do believe that Planned Parenthood provides a variety of services that include issues surrounding women’s health, contraception, pap-smear screenings, cancer screenings, and I think that all those things are very, very, very important. At the same time, I think that there is such a large number of abortions that are performed by Planned Parenthood and it seems to be very focused on providing abortions. What I would rather see is that federal money be directed toward other clinics that are more focused on women’s health in ways that do not fund abortion. I guess what I would say is that I do support de-funding abortion providers.” Government funding may not be used at Planned Parenthood or other organizations for abortions.
Rabbi Rebecca Walker, senior Jewish educator of the Hillel Lester & Jewell Morris Jewish Student Center at Michigan State University, was more liberal in her views concerning abortion. She said, “In the Jewish tradition, we do allow abortion and the texts talk about it, especially in the case of when there is a danger to the mother and so a fetus is not seen as fully human until it’s been given birth to. So, when you’re trying to figure out in terms of values if the mother’s life is in danger then you would have to abort the fetus to save the mother. In Judaism, you do that because the mother is a person and she can produce more babies and the fetus is going to kill the mother. Unfortunately, it’s not a good trade-off. For me, personally, I definitely put myself in the pro-choice camp for abortion for a variety of reasons.”
Walker was straightforward with her opinion of Trump possibly cutting government funding to Planned Parenthood. She said, “I disagree with what the policies are. I think it’s very important to have access to family planning, abortion services, birth control.”
The doctrines and scripture of these faiths are different in many ways but most of their views agreed that abortion was a grey-area in the case of health risks to the mother and that access to health care was critical to all women. It’s enlightening to know that even when people have their differences they can find similar ground in some areas.