Pelavin: Religious matters are best left to religious communities, and decisions about health and what constitutes a life-saving procedure to physicians with medical training… Today is a sad day, and may well mark the beginning of a new and dark era.
Contact:Alexis Rice or Sarah Lipton-Lubet 202-387-2800
WASHINGTON, June 5, 2003 - Today, Mark J. Pelavin, Associate Director of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism, responded to the passage of the so-called Partial Birth Abortion Ban by the House of Representatives with the following statement:
We are profoundly saddened by the House of Representative's passage yesterday of the so-called Partial Birth Abortion Ban.
Yesterday's vote is an unacceptable abridgement of reproductive freedom in America. A woman's right to act upon her own conscience and to make decisions within the purview of her beliefs should not be impinged upon.
Opponents of choice continue to use inflammatory and inaccurate rhetoric about "infanticide" and "partial-birth" abortion in a nationwide strategy to further their goal of ending legal abortion. These legislators and advocates say they are banning only one abortion procedure, but the vague and broadly worded legislation indicates another motive - they want a political tool to use against women and politicians to undermine support for the freedom to choose. Moreover, their continued refusal to consider amending the bill to contain an exemption to protect women's health makes clear the political agenda at hand.
All life is sacred in Judaism. Although an unborn fetus is precious and is to be protected, Judaism views the life of the mother as paramount placing a higher value on existing life than on potential life (Exodus 21: 22-23). Women are commanded to care for the health and well being of the their bodies above all else. It is due to the intrinsic Jewish belief in the sanctity of life that abortion is viewed as both a moral and correct decision under certain circumstances.
Abortion is a deeply personal issue. Women are capable of making moral decisions. Women should, and do, consult their clergy, families and physicians, about whether or not to have an abortion - not politicians. Religious matters are best left to religious communities, and decisions about health and what constitutes a life-saving procedure to physicians with medical training.
Today is a sad day, and may well mark the beginning of a new and dark era. We must now be evermore vigilant, refusing to return to the days of back alley abortions which would severely threaten the health and well-being of countless women.
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 .