Many members have reached out to us to share profound concern about the news that the Supreme Court is poised to overturn Roe v. Wade, once again making it possible for states to outlaw abortion in this country. For now, abortion is still a legal and constitutionally-protected right.
From Torah to Talmud, from 12th century rabbinic scholar Maimonides to the sages of this 21st century, our teachings cherish the sanctity of life, including the potential of life during pregnancy, but does not believe that personhood and human rights begin with conception, but rather with birth. This week the Reform, Conservative, and Orthodox Movements issued separate statements expressing concern about the pain that will be caused by such sweeping changes and the ways in which this reversal would infringe upon personal medical decisions and undermine the ability to make intimate choices in-line with religious doctrine.
Our Movement is also concerned about the impact of overturning Roe v. Wade for communities suffering from economic disparity. While those with means may seek access to necessary healthcare through traveling at their own expense, the implications could be far more dire for those without means (financial and otherwise). A change in the legal landscape could ban or restrict access to medically-provided abortion, but in times during which safe practices were unavailable, pregnant people found other ways to end pregnancies, often resulting in serious injury or death. Furthermore, the position raises fears about other rulings which rely on the same legal argument that the Supreme Court could overturn, particularly around same-sex marriage and LGBTQ+ rights so recently hard-won.
We also recognize that Judaism holds space for multiple opinions, and there are members of our congregation who agree with all or parts of the potential decision. As always, members of the Jewish community hold a wide-range of beliefs.
In moments like these, we want to make sure you know that our clergy team is here for you. We care about you and are available to speak.
In the days and weeks ahead, we will continue to monitor the situation with our Movement’s partners and we will update you about actions that members of our community might choose to participate. In the meantime, here are some immediate opportunities and resources:
- Jewish Rally for Abortion Justice: The National Council of Jewish Women is organizing a rally in Washington DC on May 17th, and Rabbi Klass is planning to attend. If you are interested in attending, register yourself for the rally and let Rabbi Klass know you’ll be there by filling out this form by May 15.
- Sign up for updates with the National Council of Jewish Women on the coordinated Jewish response to this decision.
- Per the Union for Reform Judaism’s Religious Action Center (RAC),
- Urge the Senate to pass the Women’s Health Protection Act, which would establish a legal right for health care providers to provide, and for their patients to receive, abortion services free of restrictions and bans that delay or obstruct access to care
- Join the RAC on Zoom for the May 17th launch of the Reform Movement’s nonpartisan Every Voice, Every Vote campaign.
- Early voting for the North Carolina primaries has already begun. The final day to vote is May 17. Make sure your voice is heard at the polls.
- Abortion and Reproductive Justice: A Jewish Perspective, an excerpt from ‘The Social Justice Torah Commentary,’ Rabbis Joshua R. S. Fixler and Emily Langowitz that provides a Jewish perspective on abortion.
- Statement on Draft Supreme Court Opinion Overturning Roe V. Wade, written by the Central Conference of American Rabbis (CCAR), the Reform Movements rabbinic professional leadership organization, urges the Supreme Court not to restrict abortion rights and promises that “if the leaked opinion is in fact a harbinger of a Supreme Court decision soon to come, CCAR rabbis will grieve; and then, without delay, we will act.”
- Confessional to the Women We’ve Failed, a prayer by Rabbi Zoe Klein Miles styled after the Viddui, a prayer meaning “confession,” recited during Yom Kippur.
The Jewish position and its teachings on these issues are clear, as is the Jewish imperative to not stand idly by while people suffer. Again, please reach out to clergy if you would like to talk, and stay tuned for more information as the situation unfolds.