WASHINGTON – In response to the U.S. Supreme Court decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization overturning a half century of judicial precedent established by Roe v. Wade and Planned Parenthood v. Casey, Rabbi Marla Feldman, Executive Director of Women of Reform Judaism; Yolanda Savage-Narva, Assistant Vice President of Racial Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion of the Union for Reform Judaism; and 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 of American Rabbis, and Women of Reform Judaism:
Rabbi Marla Feldman: “We are outraged that the Supreme Court today has stripped women and others who can become pregnant of the fundamental right to make essential health care decisions free of governmental interference. Abortion access is a critical component of reproductive health care. Pregnant individuals are capable of making ethical decisions based on their own beliefs and medical best interest without government officials imposing their personal religious views on others. As we navigate the catastrophic results of the Court’s decision, we will work to ensure that Congress and state legislatures do everything in their power to protect and improve access to abortion and our fundamental rights. We will not be silent as the Court tries to turn back the clock fifty years.”
Yolanda Savage-Narva: “This decision, which is rooted in anti-Black racism, white supremacy, and other systems of oppression, will have disastrous consequences. It disproportionately impacts those already facing discriminatory obstacles to health care and other human rights including Black, Indigenous, and other People of Color, people with disabilities, people in rural areas, undocumented people, and low-income people—people in our Reform Jewish community and outside the Movement. For many, this reality is not new, and many have been navigating abysmal abortion access in states that have eroded this right for decades, even with Roe. We must come together to take sustained action to support those whose human dignity and fundamental rights are and will be violated and stripped away. As Jews, we are commanded to do so.”
Rabbi Jonah Dov Pesner: “We vehemently condemn the Supreme Court decision in Dobbs, which overturns Roe v. Wade and Planned Parenthood v. Casey. This decision is wrong, full stop. It gives the green light to abortion bans that will eliminate or severely restrict access in nearly half of U.S. states and threatens other fundamental rights, including access to contraception and the LGBTQ+ rights affirmed by Lawrence v. Texas and Obergefell v. Hodges. Efforts to restrict abortion access also undermine the religious freedom of people who, as in the Jewish tradition, uphold abortion care as a medically necessary and righteous procedure.
We are a Movement that includes people who have received abortion care, abortion providers, people who love someone who has had an abortion, and people who will one day need an abortion-- all of whom are deeply impacted by this decision. I take to heart the words of our Movement’s clergy and lay leaders in communities nationwide who have shared how devastating this decision will be including congregant and abortion provider Dr. Sara Imershein, MD, MPH, who said:
‘As a healer and an abortion provider I am deeply disappointed in the Supreme Court’s decision – but not at all surprised. Sadly, the poor and marginalized will suffer most from abortion restrictions – with greater poverty, forced childbirth and higher maternal mortality.’
And Rabbi Rachael Pass, who has spoken and written about her own abortion, who said:
‘It is imperative that Jews, and all people, have access to abortion in all places where we live. I know this professionally as a rabbi, and personally as a cis-woman who has received an abortion. Judaism permits and sometimes requires abortion in the case that the life and wellbeing of the pregnant person is endangered. Depriving trans and nonbinary individuals and women with uteruses in our country of access to abortion undermines the freedom of minority religions - like Judaism - upon which our country was built.’
I stand with Dr. Imershein, Rabbi Pass, and all who will be profoundly impacted by this decision.”
The Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism is the Washington office of the Union for Reform Judaism, whose 850 congregations across North America encompass 1.8 million Reform Jews, and the Central Conference of American Rabbis, whose membership includes more than 2,000 Reform rabbis. Visit www.RAC.org for more.
Women of Reform Judaism (WRJ) is a network of Jewish women working together to empower women and communities worldwide through the bonds of sisterhood, spirituality, and social justice. WRJ, founded in 1913, is the women's affiliate of the Union for Reform Judaism, the central body of Reform Judaism in North America. For more information about WRJ, please visit www.wrj.org.