Reform Jewish Leader Honors the 34th Anniversary of the Roe v. Wade Supreme Court Decision
Wishner: Today, as we celebrate the 34th anniversary of the Roe decision, we are ever-mindful of the continued battles which must be fought and won before reproductive justice can be fully realized in our nation.
Contact: Rachel Slomovitz, Rslomovitz@Rac.org
WASHINGTON DC, January 22, 2007- In honor of the 34rd anniversary of the Supreme Court’s landmark decision in Roe v. Wade, Jane Wishner, Chair of the Commission on Social Action of Reform Judaism, issued the following statement:
On this 34th anniversary of the Roe v. Wade decision, we reflect upon the triumphs and disappointments of the struggle to uphold the word and spirit of the Supreme Court’s decision. Though today women in the United States are ensured access to abortion services, in 87% of counties across the country, there are no doctors to provide such services. Although Roe guaranteed women choice over their bodies and their reproductive health, women serving in our armed forces overseas cannot exercise that choice through military doctors. We celebrate the progress we have made in the fight for reproductive rights from the days of unsafe back-alley abortions. Yet we remain all too aware of the challenges we face from those who pursue an incremental chipping away of women’s reproductive freedoms on the path to their goal of overturning Roe.
With the swearing in of the 110th Congress, we are hopeful that we have seen an end to the harmful and medically unsound legislation considered and passed by both chambers over the last several years. In the last year alone, the House and Senate attempted to pass the Child Interstate Abortion Notification Act, proposing to make it a federal crime to knowingly transport a minor across a state line to obtain an abortion if that minor has not met the requirements for parental involvement in her state of residence. Similarly, the Child Pain Awareness Act, which would have forced doctors to provide patients seeking abortion services with scientifically unproven information about the fetus’s ability to feel pain, came dangerously close to passing. The Administration failed to fund the Congressional commitment made to the UN Family Planning Commission for a sixth year in a row, leaving women throughout the developing world without the education and resources they need to avoid unplanned, unsafe pregnancies and increasing their risk of contracting HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases. Additionally, abstinence-only-until-marriage programs that withhold truthful and medically accurate information from young people and endanger public health have continued to receive direct federal funding, while comprehensive sexuality education programs receive none.
The significance of Roe v. Wade lies in its assurance of women’s autonomy and control over their reproductive decisions and reproductive health. This past year has also seen advances in this realm. After much delay, Plan B emergency contraception was approved for over-the-counter use for women over the age of 18, although much work needs to be done to ensure greater access than currently allowed under the FDA’s decision. A vaccination which protects women from cervical cancer is now available in the form of the HPV vaccination. And South Dakota voters rejected the state’s draconian ban on abortion.
The Reform Jewish Movement has long affirmed its unwavering commitment to the protection and preservation of the reproductive rights of all members of our society. Today, as we celebrate the 34th anniversary of the Roe decision, we are ever-mindful of the continued battles which must be fought and won before reproductive justice can be fully realized in our nation.
On this, the anniversary of Roe, we must recommit ourselves to serving as advocates and voices for reproductive rights. We must advocate for comprehensive sexuality education, for access to comprehensive family planning and reproductive health services, for the rights of young women, for reproductive justice for women of color, and as always, for the preservation and protection of safe and legal access to abortion services.
The Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism is the Washington office of the Union for Reform Judaism, whose more than 900 congregations across North America encompass 1.5 million Reform Jews, and the Central Conference of American Rabbis, whose membership includes more than 1800 Reform rabbis.