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May 13, 2015, Washington D.C. – In advance of today’s House of Representatives vote on the Pain Capable Unborn Child Protection Act (H.R. 36), Rachel Laser, Deputy Director of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism, and Rabbi Marla J. Feldman, Executive Director of Women of Reform Judaism, issued the following statement:
We urge the House to reject the Pain Capable Unborn Child Protection Act (H.R. 36), a dangerous bill that would prohibit abortions after 20 weeks of gestation, with only narrow exceptions in cases of rape or incest or to protect the woman’s life. Even with the recent changes to the bill to address concerns over its original rape reporting requirement, the bill still requires assault survivors to overcome significant obstacles in order to access the health care they need. These strict provisions increase the burden of a ban that already unduly restricts a woman’s autonomy over her own body, further denying her the ability to make moral medical decisions according to her own beliefs and conscience.
The women who need access to later abortions are often facing desperate circumstances, such as birth defects or fetal diseases that are undetectable until around the 20-week mark. To cut off abortion access at 20 weeks—an arbitrary point in gestation without medical basis—leaves these women without access to a critical health care service. Government policies must not restrict a woman’s right to make medical decisions in concert with her family, her doctor, her clergy, and whomever else she chooses to include.
As people of faith, we respect the different faith teachings that exist around abortion. But public policy impacting people of all faiths and no faith must not be based on the tenets of any one religion, or impose those tenants on others by enshrining them into law. We stand firm in our opposition to H.R. 36, and we look forward to the day when women do not face barriers to accessing the reproductive health care they need.