FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
January 20, 2022
Sarah Garfinkel, firstname.lastname@example.org; 202-765-4290
To commemorate the 49th anniversary of Roe v. Wade, organizations representing the major Jewish denominations joined together in support of abortion access, urging Senate passage of the Women’s Health Protection Act.
WASHINGTON — Tomorrow, Jewish organizations representing millions of people across the United States affiliated with all of the major denominations of Judaism are holding a day of action calling on the Senate to pass the Women’s Health Protection Act (WHPA). WHPA protects the right to access abortion free from medically unnecessary restrictions and bans on abortion — including mandatory waiting periods, biased counseling, two-trip requirements, and mandatory ultrasounds. WHPA would create a statutory right for health care providers to provide abortion care, and a corresponding right for their patients to receive that care, free from medically unnecessary restrictions that single out abortion and impede access.
Jewish tradition permits and in some case require abortions, and teaches us to recognize the dignity of every human being, kavod habriot. We have an obligation to care for our health and to ensure all others can do the same. With increasing attempts to ban abortion in states across the country, as well as multiple abortion-related cases in the federal courts and at the US Supreme Court, passage of federal legislation to protect and advance the right to control our bodies, lives, and futures is urgent.
The House passed WHPA in September and it has languished in the Senate. With each passing day, access to abortion is under seige, most harming those already facing barriers to accessing health care and who are bearing the brunt of the pandemic and economic crisis — particularly Black, Indigenous and People of Color (BIPOC), women, and those working to make ends meet. Thirteen states are already planning copycat laws to Texas’ SB8 bounty hunter six week abortion ban scheme.
Organized by National Council of Jewish Women, Keshet, The Jewish Democratic Council of America, Union for Reform Judaism, and Women of Reform Judaism on behalf of the Jewish Abortion Access Coalition, the Jewish community is a critical part of the push for abortion access, which includes Senate passage of WHPA. We are committed to harnessing the power of the Jewish community to see this historic legislation signed into law.
Quotes from representatives of each organization are below and each is available for interview on this subject.
Sheila Katz, CEO of National Council of Jewish Women:
“Passing the Women’s Health Protection Act (WHPA) is an important step toward becoming a country where every person — regardless of who they are or where they live — is free to make the best health care decisions for themselves and their families. As Jews, we recognize abortion as essential health care, that is not only permitted, but in some cases, required by our tradition. Existing abortion bans and restrictions fall hardest on those already facing barriers to accessing health care — including Black, Indigenous and People of Color; those working to make ends meet; members of the LGBTQI+ community; immigrants; young people; those living in rural communities; and people with disabilities. As we’re seeing in many states across the country, without the right to safely access abortion care in their own states, pregnant people are often forced to travel lengthy distances, to scramble to find childcare, and to contend with the threat of losing their jobs. They could be forced to carry an unwanted or non-viable pregnancy to term or even criminalized for exercising their basic constitutional and human rights. National Council of Jewish Women urges swift Senate passage of WHPA to ensure we can all make our own moral and faith-informed decisions about our bodies, health, and future.”
Idit Klein, CEO of Keshet:
“We all deserve to live our lives with dignity and to decide how we use our bodies – and no one should be forced to be pregnant, place a baby for adoption, or become a parent against their will. LGBTQ people also become pregnant and must have the same dignity to make deeply personal decisions for ourselves and our families. Americans must have safe access to abortion, no matter where they live or how they identify.”
Rabbi Marla Feldman, Executive Director of Women of Reform Judaism:
“Women of Reform Judaism (WRJ) has advocated for reproductive freedom throughout its history, mobilizing our communities to oppose efforts to restrict access to abortion and the full range of reproductive health services that we all deserve. In 1977, we proclaimed: ‘We believe that the right to choose on the matter of abortions is a personal decision based on religious, moral, or cultural values and beliefs; it should not be determined for others by special interest groups whether religious or otherwise, nor should government be the enforcing agency for their points of view.’ In keeping with Jewish values and tradition, WRJ, with the Jewish Abortion Access Coalition, urges the Senate to swiftly pass the Women’s Health Protection Act to protect access to abortion and uphold the health and dignity of all people, regardless of their beliefs.”
Barbara Weinstein, Associate Director of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism:
“The Union for Reform Judaism, encompassing over 1.8 million Jews across North America, is firmly committed to advocating for equal access to abortion, regardless of race, income, or geography. We also stand firmly against efforts to infringe upon religious freedom through the imposition of abortion restrictions. As Reform Jews, we know that every person deserves bodily autonomy and access to health care, including abortion care, free from barriers and stigma. Banning potentially life-saving medical procedures and interfering with a patient’s decision-making and moral agency runs contrary to Jewish teachings. We urge the Senate to honor the anniversary of Roe v. Wade by swiftly passing the Women’s Health Protection Act.”
Halie Soifer, CEO of the Jewish Democratic Council of America (JDCA):
“Every person must have the right to choose the reproductive health care that makes sense for themselves and their family. JDCA supports the vital work of organizations providing critical health services and access to abortion for all who need it, particularly vulnerable communites and marginalized populations. On this day of action, we’re calling on the Senate to codify the right to access abortion care and contraception into law, by joining the House in passing the Women’s Health Protection Act. We also reject partisan efforts to use the courts to limit access to life-saving reproductive health care. With state legislatures working to prevent access to abortion for millions of Americans, we must pass federal legislation to ensure abortion access and reproductive justice.”