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The Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism Commemorates the 30th Anniversary of Landmark Roe v. Wade Decision

Pelavin: As we look back on the last 30 years of reproductive rights, we see that those who seek a return to the dark ages of self-induced and back-alley abortions - through legislation, court packing, or anti-abortion violence - are gaining ground in their fight against the reproductive freedom and health of American women.


Contact:
Alexis Rice or Sarah Lipton-Lubet 202-387-2800

WASHINGTON, January 22, 2003 - In commemoration of the 30th anniversary of the Supreme Court's Roe v. Wade decision, Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism Associate Director Mark J. Pelavin today released the following statement:

Thirty years ago today, the Supreme Court recognized the legal and moral reproductive rights of women. These rights, as guaranteed in the landmark Roe v. Wade decision, not only save women from the horrors and dangers of illegal back-alley abortions, they enable women to more fully participate in the social, economic and political life of this country. It is a right without which others cannot be realized and one that cannot be taken for granted.

As we look back on the last 30 years of reproductive rights, we see that those who seek a return to the dark ages of self-induced and back-alley abortions - through legislation, court packing, or anti-abortion violence - are gaining ground in their fight against the reproductive freedom and health of American women. States continue to impose restrictions on abortion that make it increasingly inaccessible, especially for the poor. The federal government is working to deprive women of reproductive health care and the right to make informed decisions about their own lives and bodies. The so-called Partial Birth Abortion Ban, the Child Custody Protection Act, the Unborn Victims of Violence Act - all of which are top items on the agenda of the anti-choice Congressional leadership - seek to weaken the rights embodied in Roe. At the same time, there is a real threat of a new Supreme Court Justice who would shift the Court's current and precarious balance on abortion rights. Such an appointment could lead the Court to overturn Roe. The danger to women's fundamental liberties is real, fierce, and imminent.

The intrinsic Jewish belief in the sanctity of life is compatible with the strongly held belief in abortion as both a moral and correct decision under some circumstances. The decision of whether or not to terminate a pregnancy is a personal one, which must be made by the woman on the basis of her own religious and moral criteria. Efforts to restrict access to abortion and create a society in which the values of some govern the moral decisions of all cannot succeed. In such a society women have neither physical nor moral autonomy.

All people deserve the peace of mind granted by knowing that their choices are their own and that their freedoms are secure. No woman deserves to live without the ability to make her own moral decisions. Now more than ever, it is imperative that all those who value freedom of conscience must continue to make their voices heard. We must work to make sure that the safety, freedom, and rights of all women are well protected.

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The Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism is the Washington office of the Union of American Hebrew Congregations (UAHC) , whose over 900 congregations across North America encompass 1.5 million Reform Jews , and the Central Conference of American Rabbis(CCAR) whose membership includes over 1800 Reform rabbis .



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