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Reform Jewish Leader Decries Enactment of Legislation Restricting Access to Abortion Services

Saperstein: This vague and broadly worded law subjugates the medical expertise of doctors, the personal beliefs of patients, and the rights of women across the country to political decisions.


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Alexis Rice or Beth Kalisch 202-387-2800

Washington, November 5, 2003 - In response to today's ceremony at which President Bush signed into law the so-called Partial Birth Abortion Ban, Rabbi David Saperstein, Director of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism, released the following statement:

Today's enactment of legislation to curb the reproductive rights of women is a tragic restriction of the Supreme Court's landmark 1973 Roe vs. Wade decision. This vague and broadly worded law subjugates the medical expertise of doctors, the personal beliefs of patients, and the rights of women across the country to political decisions. Indeed, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, the American Medical Women's Association, the American Nurses Association and the American Public Health Association oppose this ban.

For years, anti-choice activists have worked to use legislation to chip away at the reproductive rights protected by the Court's 1973 decision. Enactment of this law now puts women at needless risk. In fact, the "partial birth" abortion ban contains no exception for the health of the woman. Equally disturbing is that the vague wording of this bill may result in a chilling effect among medical professionals who may become reluctant to perform a medically necessary and legal procedure for fear of the filing of criminal charges.

Efforts to ban medical procedures that are safe and potentially life-saving run counter to the Jewish belief in the sacredness of life. Women should be allowed to make decisions about their medical health and well-being in consultation with family members, doctors and clergy and without political calculations.

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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(CCAR) whose membership includes more than 1800 Reform rabbis .



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