On June 24 the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, which guaranteed the right to abortion, in its Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization ruling. JCPA condemned this decision, which we do not believe represents the will of the people nor is in the best interest of the country. Access to safe, affordable, and legal abortion and reproductive health care is a priority for JCPA, rooted in our long-standing support for reproductive rights and religious liberty. According to the Pew Research Center, 83% of Jews believe that abortion should be legal in all or most cases.
Judaism compels us to stand for all life, and we prioritize the life and health of a pregnant person. While we treat a fetus with great significance, it does not merit the status of a person until birth and then it has equal status with the person giving birth. If the fetus endangers a person’s life physically or through mental anguish, Jewish law supports abortion. Rabbis and other clergy should not fear liability when providing counseling consistent with their religious beliefs. Jewish law never supports abortion bans without exception.
This ruling is already having devastating outcomes, undermining reproductive freedom, endangering public health, and criminalizing of those who provide, support, or obtain abortions. It disproportionately impacts people of color, those who are low-income, and young people.
Our nation is facing a public health crisis. States with “trigger laws” banning abortion are already in effect while dozens more are taking up bills to ban and criminalize those who seek abortions and those who provide abortion care. States where abortion is already banned are considering even more extreme measures, including criminalizing crossing state lines to get an abortion, and removing exceptions for rape, incest, or health of the person.
We believe that people have a right to make decisions about their own bodily autonomy. The government should never be allowed to compel its citizens to compromise that autonomy. The state is not allowed to mandate even life-saving organ donation, even after death.
We know that abortion bans do not stop abortions; they only stop safe abortions. Studies show that they lead to poor health outcomes, long-term poverty, and other adverse health and economic impacts.
- 1993 Principles on National Health Care Coverage
- “We seek a national health care plan that serves everyone living in the United States. Health care should not be employment dependent and should not exclude anyone with prior medical conditions.” (emphasis mine)
- “We seek a health care plan that provides […] comprehensive reproductive health services for men and women.”
- 1995 Resolution on Violence Against Reproductive Health Facilities
- “[C]ondemns the outrageous terrorist attacks committed against reproductive health clinics, health care providers and clients.”
- 2004 Resolution on International Family Planning
- “Repeal the Global Gag Rule.”
- 2005 Resolution on Reproductive Choice
- “JCPA believes that reproductive health decisions are best made by individuals in consultation with their families and health care professionals and based on personal religious beliefs.”
- “Restrictions on the right to choose and lack of access to services threaten this constitutionally-protected individual right.”
- 2014 Resolution on Reproductive Health
- ”The question of abortion is a sensitive one and personal decision in this area should be made in consultation with recognized halachic authorities.”
- “Merely completing a form notifying an insurance company or third-party administrator of a religious non-profit organization’s objections to furnishing contraceptive coverage should not be seen as imposing a “substantial burden” on the organizations religious exercise.”
Orthodox Union’s Abstention from JCPA’s Reproductive Care Policy
The Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations of America, a JCPA member, has long standing policy of not joining in JCPA statements on reproductive rights:
[The Orthodox Union] cannot endorse a public policy that does not reflect the complex response of halacha to the abortion issue. In most circumstances, the halacha proscribes abortion, but there are cases in which halacha permits and indeed mandates abortion. The question of abortion is a sensitive one and personal decisions in this area should be made in consultation with recognized halachic authorities.