WASHINGTON, January 27, 1998 - Reform rabbis last week joined with other pro-choice activists to commemorate the 25th anniversary of Roe v. Wade and to assert that the historic 1973 U.S. Supreme Court decision, which first recognized a woman's constitutional right to have an abortion, should remain intact.
At a rally held Tuesday, January 20, on the steps of the Supreme Court, Rabbi Lynne F. Landsberg, executive director of the Union of American Hebrew Congregation's Mid-Atlantic Council, joined Rabbi Shira Stern and her husband, Rabbi Donald Weber, in opposing the efforts of the anti-choice lobby to supplant the highly personal decisions of women, and their families, clergy and doctors, with that of politicians.
"The issue of abortion is profoundly religious and profoundly religious people are overwhelmingly pro-choice," Landsberg said. Recalling the dark days before the Roe decision, Landsberg remembered a time when clergy "sat at the bedsides of women fighting for their lives after botched back-alley abortions," and "consoled distraught families at the graves of those women who didn't make it."
Offering a personal account of her own anguished decision to abort her anencephalic fetus, Stern, of Morganville, N.J., spoke passionately of the duty to provide women with access to safe and legal abortions. "Education on birth control will reduce the numbers of abortions far more quickly than violent protests at clinics, shooting doctors, or abusive rhetoric ever will," Stern said in pointed remarks aimed at anti-choice protesters rallying noisily nearby.
Weber, spiritual leader of Temple Rodeph Torah in Marlboro, N.J., criticized anti-choice advocates for threatening the religious liberty of all Americans. "Make no mistake," said Weber, "those who oppose us are not against freedom of choice, they are against freedom of religion. They demand that we live our lives in accordance with their view of morality, with their view of life, and with their view of God."
The Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism is the Washington office of the Union of American Hebrew Congregations and the Central Conference of American Rabbis, representing 1.5 million Reform Jews and 1,800 Reform rabbis in 875 congregations throughout North America.