The bastard clause November 19, 2010Posted by Ezra Resnick in Equality, Ethics, Religion.
Two happy parents gave birth to a child in June, and yet the State of Israel will not allow the father to be listed on his daughter’s birth certificate. Why is that?
The Population Registry Law of 1965 states that no man can be listed as the father of a child unless he was married to the child’s mother or, in the case of unmarried parents, if the mother had not been married to another man 300 days prior to the child’s birth.
The law stems from the Jewish religious law forbidding a woman to remarry for 90 days after a husband’s death or a divorce. The law is meant to prevent uncertainty over the father’s identity and to lift the suspicion of mamzer (bastard) status from any child subsequently conceived.
So because the child was born less than 300 days after the mother’s divorce was finalized, the biological father (the mother’s new partner) cannot be recognized as such, cannot take his daughter to her medical check-ups, cannot register her for school, cannot take her abroad.
Notice, by the way, that this law doesn’t even make sense on its own terms. If we were really worried about the child’s paternity, merely omitting to document the problem wouldn’t solve it. And we could simply do a DNA test and settle the issue. But none of this matters, because the premise upon which the law is based is utterly immoral: penalizing a child for the circumstances of its birth. The Bible says explicitly that a “bastard” (and his or her offspring) can never be married to a legitimate Jew, but what could be more unfair than punishing a person for something done by his parents before he was born? And the parents didn’t even do anything wrong.
Yet another instance of religion insisting that everyone follow its stupid, irrational rules with no concern for the injury caused to innocent people.