Largest Jewish Organization Calls Of Intrusive' Abortion Bill An Unwarranted Threat' To Women's Health, Urges Clinton To Exercise Veto
WASHINGTON, May 20, 1997 - The Senate's passage today of a bill to restrict late-term abortions was called "grossly intrusive" and "an ominous and unwarranted threat to women's health," by the Union of American Hebrew Congregations and the Central Conference of American Rabbis, representing 1.5 million Reform Jews and 1,800 Reform rabbis throughout North America. Rabbi David Saperstein, director of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism, issued the following statement after today's vote:
Today's Senate vote in support of the so-called Partial Birth Abortion Act of 1997 is an ominous and unwarranted threat to women's health and reproductive rights. Unable to overturn the decision reached by the Supreme Court in Roe v. Wade, those who would greatly limit, or eliminate altogether, a woman's right to choose now seek with this legislation to undermine, weaken, or limit that ruling.
This grossly intrusive legislation interposes the government between a woman and her doctor and, in doing so, gravely curtails the reproductive freedom of women everywhere. The bill's narrow "life exception" fails to provide an exception to preserve the woman's health, no matter how seriously or permanently damaged the women's physical or psychological health or future fertility would be.
Jewish law mandates that protecting the life and health of a woman come before protecting her fetus. In fact, a woman is forbidden to give her life in exchange for the life of her fetus. Imposing a ban on the intact dilation and evacuation (D&E) procedure, a procedure used in the rarest of instances to protect the health and life of a woman, directly contradicts a basic tenet of our faith. In this light, the vast majority of the organized Jewish community has consistently affirmed its vigorous opposition to efforts -- no matter how disguised -- to weaken the Court's Roe decision.
The bill's proponents have sadly politicized the most personal and difficult of decisions a woman can make in order to advance the moral agenda of some; in doing so, the proponents have sacrificed the reproductive rights of women, their autonomy, and their ability to make the best health choices for themselves and their families. We call on President Clinton to stand firm in his promise to veto this legislation.
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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 1800 Reform rabbis in more than 850 congregations throughout North America.