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.

Description

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.

Take Action

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Protestors holding pro choice signs outside the Supreme Court

Protect Access to Abortion

The Women’s Health Protection Act would create a federal safeguard against countless state regulations, bans, and restrictions that prevent people from accessing the abortion care they need. Urge your members of Congress to pass the Women’s Health Protection Act (WHPA).

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Sign reading KEEP ABORTION LEGAL

Repeal the Hyde Amendment

​​​​​​The Hyde Amendment prohibits federal health insurance coverage of abortion, with very narrow exception, disproportionately impacting low-income individuals and limiting their access to abortion services. ​Urge Congress to support the EACH Act, which would restore moral agency to all pregnant individuals, regardless of income.

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Tell Congress to Permanently End the Global Gag Rule

The global gag rule, also called the Mexico City Policy, prevented foreign NGOs that receive U.S. global health assistance from using their own, non-U.S. funds to discuss abortion with their patients, perform legal abortions, or advocate for the legalization of abortion. Urge your members of Congress to support the Global HER Act.

Related Issues

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Abortion Access

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.

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Family Planning & Contraceptives

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.

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Student raising hand in classroom

Comprehensive Sexuality Education

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.

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woman holding sign in front of supreme court about legal abortion

Reproductive Justice

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.

What's New

Related Press Releases

Reform Jewish Movement Denounces Supreme Court Decision Allowing Government Funding of Religious Education

In response to the Supreme Court decision in Espinoza v. Montana Department of Revenue permitting state funding of private religious education, Rabbi Jonah Dov Pesner, director of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism, released the following statement on behalf of the Union for Reform Judaism, the Central Conference on American Rabbis and the wider Reform Movement institutions:

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Reform Judaism's Resolutions on Reproductive Rights

Learn more about the position of the Reform Movement on these key issues, and read the formal resolutions by URJ and CCAR.

View URJ Resolutions View Other Reform Judaism Resolutions

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learning books

Engage Your Congregation

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Two women wearing Justice buttons at a womens march

Join the Brit Olam

Learn more about the RAC Brit Olam, and consider joining the Reproductive Health and Rights Cohort, run in partnership with Women of Reform Judaism, to join a network of congregations working to advance reproductive health and rights on a local, state, provincial, and federal level.

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Printable Resources

Utilize the WRJ-RAC Reproductive Health & Rights Printable Resource to find a list of Jewish texts and suggestions on programs to kickstart your advocacy efforts.

Contact our Staff

For more information on this issue, contact WRJ-RAC Reproductive Health & Rights Campaign Associate Ally Karpel at (202) 387-2800.