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Rollback of Reproductive Rights, Tone of Debate Must Change


Rabbi Saperstein: "We will continue to sound a strong, moral, Jewish voice for the full range of reproductive rights -- including the right to a safe and affordable abortion, the right to comprehensive sex education, and the right to accessible and affordable contraception."

Contact: Eric T. Harris or Deborah Swerdlow
202.387.2800 | news@rac.org

WASHINGTON, D.C., January 21, 2011 -- In recognition of tomorrow's 38th anniversary of the Supreme Court's landmark abortion rights decision in Roe v. Wade, Rabbi David Saperstein, Director of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism, issued the following statement:

Almost four decades have passed since the Supreme Court recognized a woman's constitutional right to make decisions about her own body. On this 38th anniversary of the landmark Roe v. Wade decision, we rejoice that the decision still stands while we deplore the current fragility of reproductive rights in our nation and the acrimonious behavior and rhetoric that often characterize debates over these issues.

According to the latest research from the Guttmacher Institute, more than 950 anti-choice state measures were introduced in 2010, and 89 new anti-choice state laws were enacted. From mandatory ultrasound requirements to onerous waiting periods that disproportionately impact low-income women and other vulnerable populations, these new measures unfairly restrict women's reproductive rights.

The Reform Movement has been a strong supporter of reproductive rights since before Roe v. Wade. We are greatly concerned by reports that the U.S. House of Representatives may consider legislation to reduce federal funding for family planning services, prevent private health insurance plans from covering abortion services and take other actions aimed at undercutting Roe v. Wade. We will continue to sound a strong, moral, Jewish voice for the full range of reproductive rights -- including the right to a safe and affordable abortion, the right to comprehensive sex education, and the right to accessible and affordable contraception.

Furthermore, at a time in our society when many of us are re-examining the rhetoric of our public debates, we note that the rhetoric around reproductive rights, particularly a woman's right to choose, is often particularly sharp and heated. Thus, in addition to recommitting ourselves to preserving those rights on this 38th anniversary, we also commit ourselves to -- and call on others to join us in -- engaging in civil, respectful and honest political discourse.

As we mark the 38th anniversary of one of the Court's most monumental decisions, we must remember our responsibility to the women whose rights the decision defends and to the ideals that our democratic institutions are meant to protect.

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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 1,800 Reform rabbis. Visit www.rac.org for more.



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