Feldman: These freedoms belong to and affect all women as well as their partners, their families, and all men who want to make smart decisions regarding their own sexuality, choices and family planning.
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Washington, DC | January 22, 2008 - In observance of the 35th anniversary of the Supreme Court's landmark decision in Roe v. Wade, Rabbi Marla Feldman, Director of the Commission on Social Action of Reform Judaism, issued the following statement:
Thirty five years ago today, the Supreme Court's landmark decision in Roe v Wade guaranteed women privacy and sovereignty over their bodies. We pause to commemorate this important victory in the fight for reproductive rights, and honor the work of those who have fought for more than three decades against those who would return us to the days of back alley abortions.
At the center of the Roe decision was the guarantee that women in need would have access to safe abortion services. In practice, this is too often not the case. The past decade has seen an alarming number of restrictions placed on women's autonomy, from parental consent laws that contain no judicial bypass to the Federal Abortion Ban, which criminalizes a procedure that can mean the difference between life and death for a pregnant woman. In 2007 alone, two states enacted legislation that would immediately ban abortions should Roe v Wade be overturned, and at least 23 states considered legislation that would restrict access to abortion or reproductive health services and information. Already, 87% of counties in this country have no doctors who provide abortion services, and the past months have seen increased violence directed at clinics.
The Reform Movement has long championed reproductive freedom. It is the Jewish belief in the sanctity of life that leads us to conclude that abortion is sometimes a moral and correct decision, and that a woman should only have children when it is her choice to do so. Choices regarding one's own reproductive health are intensely personal, and the Reform Movement vigorously opposes any attempts to impose the religious beliefs of a select few onto our society as a whole or to suggest that women are incapable of private moral judgments. For this reason, we call upon the 110th Congress to reaffirm a woman's essential right to choose by passing the Freedom of Choice Act, which will prohibit the federal or state governments from denying or interfering with a woman's reproductive rights.
The past 35 years have demonstrated that this is not just a woman's issue or concern. These freedoms belong to and affect all women as well as their partners, their families, and all men who want to make smart decisions regarding their own sexuality, choices and family planning. We will continue to work toward ensuring that everyone has the opportunity to fulfill their potential, lead rich and valuable lives, and to bear children if and when they so choose at a time when they can be prepared, capable and willing parents.