The Jewish Response to Reproductive Justice
The Jewish Response to Reproductive Justice
Mena Kates and Judy Leavitt
The Jewish Perspective (National Council of Jewish Women ((NCJW))/Rabbi Jenny Solomon)The Written and Oral Torah conclude:
• The fetus does not have the status of personhood.
• The full status of personhood and therefore the protections of personhood do not begin
at conception but begins at a viable birth.
• The fetus does not have meaningful status for the first forty days; thereafter, it is
considered part of the body of the pregnant woman until it breathes on its own.
• Termination of a pregnancy is required if a mother’s life is at risk, the risk. This can be
understood to concern her physical and mental wellbeing.
In Summary: (interpretations by NCJW)
- Jewish teachings command us to care for our communities and our neighbors. That
includes making sure everyone has access to safe health care, including access to
abortion and reproductive care.
- Abortion care is health care, and health care is a human right. The Jewish value
includes believing in a world where everyone can access abortion care when they
- Bans on abortion aren’t just a violation of the human right to bodily autonomy,
they’re a violation of our religious rights as Jews. Jewish tradition doesn’t just allow
abortion, it commands it in some cases — and we need to make sure abortion stays
accessible for everyone.
- Is abortion still legal in the U.S.? In some states.
The U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Roe v. Wade guaranteed the constitutional
right to have an abortion in the U.S. The Supreme Court has now overturned Roe v.
Wade with their decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization.
- Roe being overturned is not the same thing as there being a federal ban on
abortion. Roe being overturned means the constitutional protection that was in place
has been removed, and the states are no longer limited in what kinds of abortion
restrictions they can pass. Some states have legal protections in place that will ensure
that abortion remains legal there. Others have banned or severely restricted abortion.
- It is legal to travel out of state to get an abortion, no matter what state you’re located
- 8 states completely ban abortion
- 36 states ban abortion after a specified point in pregnancy
- 19 states (including North Carolina) require a person seeking an abortion to
wait a specified period of time before their abortion
- 28 states require some type of parental involvement for a minor to get an abortion
- North Carolina - Abortion is legal in North Carolina until "viability"; which is the stage of pregnancy when a fetus has developed enough to survive outside the uterus with medical help. It usually happens around 24 to 26 weeks of pregnancy. For more info go to: https://www.abortionfinder.org/abortion-guides-by-state/abortion-in-north-carolina.
If the injunction is removed, abortions will still be legal in the first 20
weeks of pregnancy or in a medical emergency, unless new legislation is passed by
the General Assembly and signed into law by the Governor.
Before Roe v Wade, abortion was illegal in most states. One of the most effective responses, was
the creation of the Jane Collective, started by Heather Booth (https://www.heyalma.com/a-brief-history-
of-the-jane-collective/), a Jewish woman. Officially known as the Abortion Counseling Service of
Women's Liberation, it was an underground service in Chicago, Illinois affiliated with the Chicago
Women's Liberation Union that operated from 1969 to 1973, a time when abortion was illegal in most of
the United States.
In 1973, the Supreme Court held in Roe v. Wade that the constitutional right of privacy implicit
in the Fourteenth Amendment’s Due Process Clause protected a woman’s right to choose
abortion. In Planned Parenthood of Southeastern Pennsylvania v. Casey, decided in 1992, the
Court clarified that the right to have an abortion could be exercised at any time before viability.
83% of Jews support abortion – more than any other religious group.
Abortion action is a matter of religious freedom. We as Jews must act on our teachings!
- State action is a priority –
o Vote for pro-choice candidates for state offices
o Protest efforts to gerrymander districts
o Support Medicaid expansion and maintain reproductive healthcare
o Support health providers freedom to give care
o Know the facts: 1 in 5 women will have an abortion – whether it is legal or not
- Federal action
o Ask our Senators to support the Women’s Health Protection Act
- Individual action:
o Donate to the Carolina Abortion Fund, and independent clinics such as Keep Our
Clinics to make sure people can get the care they need.
o Contribute to the Jewish Fund for Abortion Access, an initiative of the National
Council of Jewish Women that resources the National Abortion Federation.
o Support Pro-Choice NC - sign up for their Rapid Response list to stay informed
about actions you can take now and in the future.
o Support Planned Parenthood of NC, to continue reproductive health care and support
women coming from other states to NC.
Join Carolina Jews for Justice to expand access and support! See the Reproductive Justice page on the CJJ website.
Contact Mena Kates ([email protected]) or Judy Leavitt ([email protected])
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