Reproductive Health and Rights
The Reform Movement's positions on reproductive rights are grounded in the core belief that each person should have agency and autonomy over their own bodies.
The Reform Movement's positions on reproductive rights are grounded in the core belief that each person should have agency and autonomy over their own bodies. Our advocacy around abortion access is inspired by the Jewish value of kavod ha’briyot, respect for individual dignity. This same sanctity underscores the vital need for medically accurate sexuality education, affordable family planning services, and high-quality maternal and women’s health care.
We strive to work in partnership with both secular and faith-based organizations and build relationships across lines of faith, race, and other differences to create a world in which every person is able to shape their reproductive lives with dignity.
The RAC is partnering with Women of Reform Judaism on the WRJ-RAC Reproductive Health & Rights Campaign to provide an organizing structure for congregations, women's groups, and other Reform Jewish communities to take collective action for reproductive health and rights on a local, state, provincial, and federal level.
Why Should Jews Care?
Life is sacred in Judaism. Banning potentially life-saving medical procedures and interfering with a patient’s decision-making and moral agency runs contrary to the Jewish commandment to protect life. This belief, combined with biblical and rabbinic emphasis on human dignity, has led the Reform Movement to view the life of the pregnant individual as paramount, placing a stronger emphasis on protecting existing life than on potential life (Exodus 21:22-23).
Furthermore, the rabbis tell us that a physician’s job is to heal, and if they withhold medical care, it is as if they have shed blood. “The Torah has granted the physician permission to heal, and it is a religious duty which comes under the rule of saving an endangered life. If he withholds treatment, he is regarded as one who sheds blood” (Shulchan Arukh, Yoreh De’ah 336:1). Regressive state laws that prevent physicians and other providers from providing health care is in direct opposition to this sacred duty.
The Hyde Amendment prohibits federal health insurance coverage of abortion, with very narrow exception. This is more than just a reproductive rights issue; it is also an economic and racial justice issue, as the Hyde Amendment disproportionately impacts low-income individuals and limits their access to abortion services. Urge your members of Congress to support the EACH Woman Act (H.R. 1692/S. 758), which would restore moral agency to all pregnant individuals, regardless of income.
Despite the fact that 7 in 10 Americans support the right to legal abortion, access to abortion services is limited by restrictions such as geography, mandatory waiting periods, biased counseling with medically inaccurate scare tactics, parental consent laws for minors, insurance coverage restrictions, and targeted regulation of abortion providers (TRAP) laws.
Access to affordable family planning services is a critical component of our reproductive health and rights advocacy, as access to these services equip individuals with the necessary tools to shape their lives and futures.
Comprehensive sexuality education is intrinsically linked to reproductive rights. Without it, individuals cannot make informed decisions about their bodies or futures. Accurate and comprehensive sex education provides students with the information they need to avoid unwanted pregnancies, sexually transmitted infections (STIs) and other health problems.
The legal right to have an abortion or obtain contraceptive care does not mean much if these rights are inaccessible. The Reproductive Justice Movement is a contemporary movement and a framework coined by 12 visionary Black women in 1994 that centers the voices and concerns of marginalized communities in conversations relating to reproduction, sexuality, and families.
Related Press Releases
Reform Jewish Movement Denounces Supreme Court Decision Allowing Government Funding of Religious Education
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As a religious minority, we strongly believe in religious freedom—yet as Reform Jews we reject the false binary between religious liberty and fundamental civil rights. It is vital that we remain committed to both.