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Nation's Largest Jewish Organization Criticizes House Vote to Restrict Minors' Access to Abortion

"By eliminating the option for minors to trust and rely on other responsible adult family members or trusted family friends, including clergy, the House does more to isolate vulnerable children than to strengthen families."

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Contact: Jeff Mandell, 202-387-2800

WASHINGTON, June 30, 1999 - In response to the House of Representatives vote today in favor of the Child Custody Protection Act, Mark J. Pelavin, Associate Director of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism, issued the following statement:

The House of Representatives's vote this afternoon on the Child Custody Protection Act -- which would make it a felony to transport a minor across state lines to get an abortion -- shows how out of touch our representatives are with the problems facing real families in America today.

This Act is an unacceptable infringement on reproductive rights of women in this country and compromises the safety of American teenagers. While parental involvement is always our first choice for pregnant teenagers, the House's imposition of these rules fails to take into account the complexities of modern families and, especially, the dangers that some children face within their own families. By eliminating the option for minors to trust and rely on other responsible adult family members or trusted family friends, including clergy, the House does more to isolate vulnerable children than to strengthen families. Ultimately, Congress cannot force kids to talk to their parents; the real result of this bill will be to force young women into explicitly dangerous situations, including back-alley abortions, self-induced abortions, and hitchhiking across state lines. One of our greatest sages, the Baal Shem Tov taught us that when children err, we must love them even more, and not abandon them. The CCPA, ostensibly about protecting our children, instead prosecutes those who seek to help them.

While we do not celebrate abortion, we recognize the fundamental importance of reproductive freedom and a woman's right to make an independent decision based on her conscience and the counsel of those she trusts. This vote today is an unacceptable attempt to abridge reproductive freedom in America. A woman's right to act upon her own conscience and to make her own decisions within the purview of her beliefs should not be abridged. Limitations on that freedom are immoral and unconstitutional.

We hope that the Senate will reject this ill-conceived legislation, legislation that creates many more problems than it solves. In passing this bill, the House has infringed upon the Constitution and set the stage for injuries to countless young women.

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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 1,800 Reform rabbis in 875 congregations throughout North America.



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