The important public health lessons of Leviticus

A sermon by Angela J. Davis, at Leo Baeck Temple, Los Angeles, May 4, 2007. Angela J. Davis is a member and Trustee at Leo Baeck Temple in Los Angeles, where she presented this talk during a Friday night service. She also serves as president of California Women Lawyers, which seeks to further the interests of women and girls.

We are honored to post this sermon on Leviticus with important lessons on public health and abortion. In her profound interpretation of the portion called Emor of the book of Leviticus, the third book of the Torah, Davis acknowledges that the book is widely used by "religious leaders who would consign gays and lesbians to eternal damnation and politicians who would consign them to second-class citizenship – or worse. There is also plenty in Leviticus to offend feminists and all who champion gender equality, as well as individuals with disabilities..."

But, she says, Leviticus's "approach to public health in which our leaders do not arrogate to themselves a supernatural understanding, but instead look unflinchingly at human illness and suffering is an urgent message for our time." Davis considers that message in light of the Supreme Court's recent decision outlawing a medical procedure for abortion -- and in light of her family's experience with the Tay Sachs genetic mutation; babies born with this mutation all die a painful death. Click here to read the PDF document.

TOPIC: Reproductive Rights