Aug 3, 2022 - News

Tampa rabbi joins lawsuit against Florida's abortion ban

Illustration of a group of business peoples' raised fists at the bottom of an image with a justice gavel above them.
Illustration: Rae Cook/Axios

Three rabbis, three reverends and a Buddhist lama are coming together to try overturn Florida's 15-week abortion ban.

Driving the news: A Tampa rabbi, Jason Rosenberg, joined a group of Florida faith leaders in Miami and Coral Gables to file a lawsuit against the state this week, claiming the abortion law violates their religious freedom.

Details: In the suit, the rabbis say abortions for Jewish people are sometimes "mandated, in certain narrow circumstances, by their religious faith."

  • "The view that abortion should not be legal is a Christian idea," Rosenberg told Axios. "I support Christians' right to practice it, but the government telling me I have to follow the law according to the Christian faith, that's horrific."

Lama Karma Chotso, a Buddhist leader in Miami-Dade County, said in the suit that lamas should be able to counsel Buddhists "to use self-determination to make choices to access abortion services and birth control with no restriction on movement, autonomy, type, or timing."

  • The other plaintiffs say that by imposing criminal penalties, lawmakers have inserted themselves into the basic principles of their faiths.

Flashback: The legal challenge follows another religious freedom suit filed against the state by a Jewish congregation in Palm Beach County in June.

  • The ACLU and Planned Parenthood were able to get the law temporarily blocked by a judge last month, but it was reinstated minutes later after Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody filed an appeal.

What they're saying: Rosenberg told Axios that permitting abortion is a well-established Jewish principle.

  • "Judaism has discussed abortion for 2,000 years and has a complicated nuanced view about it," Rosenberg said. "This is not simply coming out of left field for us as Jews."

Editor's note: This story has been corrected to note that three reverends (not two) have joined the lawsuit against Florida's abortion ban.

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