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North Dakota 'Personhood' Bill an Affront to Reproductive Rights

Pelavin & Rabishaw: “The passage of this troubling bill reminds us to be ever watchful of the continued battles that must be fought and won before reproductive justice can be fully realized in our nation.”

Contact: Kate Bigam or Jill Zimmerman
202.387.2800 | news@rac.org

WASHINGTON, D.C., Feb. 19, 2009 — In response to the North Dakota House’s passage this week of a bill that would give a fertilized human egg the legal rights of a human being, Mark Pelavin, Associate Director of the Religious Action Center, and Rabbi Dan Rabishaw, Director of the Union for Reform Judaism’s Great Lakes Council, issued the following statement:

We are deeply troubled by the North Dakota House’s passage of HB 1572, a bill that would grant fertilized eggs the same rights as human beings.  As its sponsors plainly acknowledge, this disturbing proposal is designed to present a legal challenge to Roe v. Wade, the 35-year-old landmark Supreme Court decision that guarantees women the right to obtain a legal abortion.

The significance of Roe v. Wade lies in its assurance of women’s autonomy and control over their reproductive decisions and reproductive health. While recognizing the right of religious groups whose beliefs differ from ours to follow the dictates of their faith in this matter, we vigorously oppose attempts to legislate the particular beliefs of those groups into the law that governs us all. We will continue to advocate for comprehensive sexuality education, access to reproductive health services and as always, for the preservation and protection of safe and legal access to abortion services.

The passage of this troubling bill reminds us to be ever watchful of the continued battles that must be fought and won before reproductive justice can be fully realized in our nation. We call upon the North Dakota Senate to oppose this bill when the time comes to vote upon it, ensuring all North Dakotan women the right to decide what is best for their own bodies.

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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.



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